Game Review: MLB 10: The Show
Release: March 2, 2010
Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment San Diego
Available Platforms: PS3, PS2, PSP
ESRB Rating: Everyone
MLB 10: The Show is Sony’s latest entry in their ultra-successful baseball franchise. The Show aims to combine picture-perfect visual presentation with realistic and scalable gameplay. Numerous game modes are included; in Road to the Show you build up a character from a minor league newbie to a professional star. Franchise mode allows you to take control of and manage a team over multiple seasons, while online play allows for full season league plays well as single exhibition games.
I’m not usually tagged as much of a baseball fan, but every time a new MLB game comes out, I tend to perk up a bit. MLB 10: The Show certainly is eye-catching with its smooth animations, detailed stadiums, and numerous game options. However, after picking up the game I couldn’t help but notice how much of a learning curve there is on hitting. While pitching and fielding are fairly straightforward, I spent at least an hour straight in batting practice to try to sort things out. On that note, new players may find the lack of a tutorial to be a bit disturbing. Tip windows open during gameplay, but the problem is that you have to try to absorb all of the information for use at a later time. Just about anyone with a basic knowledge of football can pick up Madden and win a game on easier difficulty settings, but the same cannot quite be said for MLB 10. Practice makes perfect.
On the other hand, if a full game of pitching and hitting proves to be too much of a challenge early on, then you’ll love the Road to the Show game type. By taking control of one player, you have the option to only participate in plays that he’s involved in. For an outfielder or third baseman, this can be quite easy; for a catcher or pitcher, this can conversely be extremely involved. If franchise or season play isn’t to your liking, you can always play a single game with the team of your choice. This option is ideal for playing with a friend or just as a short gaming break. Online exhibition and 30-player league play is also available, but at this point is still a bit buggy. More on that later.
Visually, MLB 10 is stunning. Players are actually recognizable, and aside from looking a bit glassy-eyed, they’re dead ringers for the real thing. Sony has done an amazing job of capturing the emotion of the game. If you have a bad batting practice session, your coach will even gripe at you. Meanwhile, shadows slowly creep across the stadium as the day wears on, and overzealous fans will reach onto the field to try to snag a fouled ball. The gameplay, other than being a tad complex for beginners, is incredibly detailed and nicely scalable. After a few hours of play, you really start to get a feel of what you do right and what you need work on. Difficulty options for just about every aspect of the game can be controlled individually, and the game presentation can be adjusted from a detailed HUD to broadcast-television simplicity.
On the downside, MLB 10 still has a few moments where the gameplay seems to chug a bit. Player animations are, for the most part, very good; however, every once in a while I couldn’t help but notice that the ball would awkwardly leave a players throwing hand and shoot off at an angle that didn’t match the animation. It’s a small gripe, but in a game with such good visuals, it can detract from the overall presentation. Additionally, some users are reporting glitches that occur both online and in certain venues; these range from full freeze-ups during intentional walking to not being credited for wins. Additionally, the computer AI doesn’t always make the most logical trades. Last but not least, the commentary can be a bit annoying (and downright critical at times.)
MLB 10 is a fun baseball game with enough variety and complexity to keep you entertained throughout the season and beyond. Stunning visuals and engaging gameplay modes make this title appealing for both casual and hardcore users alike, so long as they take the time to learn how to hit properly. The handful of bugs and glitches will likely get sorted out; Sony has already released one patch to remedy some of the more glaring problems. A number of gameplay revisions from MLB 09 have been implemented to improve pickoffs and allow for calling an entire game as a catcher. Meanwhile, the fun and simple home run derby is included, both during All-Star Week during the season as well as in a standalone game type. There’s something here for just about everyone.