MLB 10: The Show Review

MLB 10: The Show (Available on PS3, PSP, and PS2)
ESRB Rating: E
Number of Players: (PS3: 2, PSP: 2, PS2: 1)
Genre: Sports
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: SCE San Diego
Release Date: March 2, 2010
PlayStation Network: Online multiplayer, DLC

Parent Talk: MLB 10: The Show features no violence.  The ESRB rates all versions of the franchise the same, E for everyone, and I stand by that recommendation.  Even the music won’t fill your ears with profanity.  These are baseball games after all; you know what they’re about.  If children can grasp the sometimes complex nature of the series, by all means pick any of these three games up for them.  For technical purposes, the PS3 version is the only concern, as it supports Trophies, custom soundtracks, voice chatting via any USB or Bluetooth headset, DualShock 3, and game invites.  Up to two can play the game, which requires a modest 5MB hard drive space in order to save data.  The game runs natively in 480p or 720p, but upscales to 1080p should you have a proper HDTV.  For sound, MLB 10: The Show supports Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1…so if you own a surround sound system, you’d really enjoy the game.

MLB 10: The Show is the latest in a long-running baseball gaming franchise.  Regardless of what Sony platform(s) you own, it’s always proven reliable for those looking to kick back and enjoy some virtual diamond derbies.  This year proves much the same.  All three versions offer more or less the same experience, albeit slightly modified.  My focus is on the PS3 platform, unless I specify otherwise.  Is MLB 10 worthy of a purchase, or should you hold off until next year?

The Great: The improved Road to the Show mode.  You create a player and battle to enter the big leagues.  The system is completely refined for this year’s outing.  The biggest addition is the option to call a game as a catcher, which I love.  Instead of controlling the pitching, you simply tell the pitcher what to do.  This sounds easy, but it’s critical to learn the ins and outs of your players.  This adds an entirely brilliant, new dynamic to the gameplay.  Regardless of what position you decide to master though, you’re never discouraged from experimenting, and rewarded accordingly.  This separates a good sports game from a great one, and truly stands out amongst the three versions.

The Good:

+The graphics.  This almost made “The Great.”  The visuals are so subtly beautiful that I was able to pinpoint just about every player I know.  On top of that, players kick up dirt while running towards a base, high-five after a successful steal, and so much more.  They seem alive…to a certain degree.  They even joke in the dugout.  It’s very clear to me that SCE San Diego truly loves baseball, because I haven’t seen this much love put into a franchise game like this in a while.  Everything from the facial features, animations, to the lighting are top-notch.  There is occasional slowdown whenever the ball is thrown from the outfield, but the rest of the package makes that forgivable.

+The audio…sort of.  I’m not referring to the commentary, oh no.  That’s later ;)  This is about the crowd, and how it comes to life to feel part of the experience.  Ask any sports fan: the crowd is what makes or breaks a good team.  Who wants to sit and watch an amazing baseball team from a silent crowd?  Not me.  That’s like watching a few American hockey teams.  Yes, I just went there.  In fact, you can record taunts.  Say you want the crowd to start chanting “You SUCK!”…well do just that and add the track.  Simply hook in a USB microphone and you’re all said.  You can record taunts and cheers, and you’ll never listen to the game the same again.

+ If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.  That’s the motto for SCE San Diego’s gameplay development.  MLB 09 and 10 play almost identically.  That’s not a bad though, as 09 refined the system to an art.  That means pick up the controller, start a contest, and enjoy.  MLB 10 also features one of the best tutorials I’ve seen assembled in a sports game.

+Excellent franchise mode.  Without going detail-crazy, you experience all 30 teams, a wonderful stat-tracking service and much more.  Remember the great gameplay, which is a big complement here.  Ideally you want to spend several years with a team and witness the players cooperate and evolve with each other.  There’s one glaring problem that prevents this mode from realizing its true potential, but I’ll save that for “The Ugly.”

+Take it online!  You can now create Season Leagues, which completely rock.  Truth be told, this is about as close as you can be to actually playing in the big leagues.  You enjoy control of a 40-player team, and stats accumulate throughout the seasons.  It’s absolutely a blast.  The improved net code also makes last year’s lag a thing of the past.

The Bad:

-The audio…hey now, wasn’t this also in “The Good?”  Yes, but for a completely different reason.  While the crowd is joyfully interactive, the commentary is dreadfully dull.  Perhaps I’m just not a fan of Matt Vasgersian, Dave Campbell, and Rex Hudler.  They’re repetitive, sound bored, and don’t seem to be passionate.  If I could record commentary, that would’ve been something else entirely.

-Trades.  Given all MLB 10 does well, it’s bizarre that trades haven’t been perfected.  Why are there only two per season?  Without the patch, the choices the AI makes are dumbfounding.  Sony has released a patch to balance things, but it’s worth the mention just the same.

The Ugly:

The A.I.  I’m bound to be hated for this, but I think the AI is completely unbalanced.  There isn’t one significant flaw, but a series that pop up over time.  Add them together, and the AI clearly needs looked at.  Examples include aggressive base-runners, pitchers that stay in a game too long, etc.  Even the great Road to the Show has these issues, which can make your progression much more difficult.

The Lowdown:

Baseball fans, this is one of the best game adaptations ever designed.  It’s much better than the past few, so I recommend you buy this.  That said, given this is a yearly franchise, you have to determine whether the additions are worth your mighty dollar.  A few past issues linger, but the improvements far outweigh them.  If you’re not a fan of the sport, why are you reading this review?

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