The Show is back again with another strong installment. With MLB The Show 18, gamers who want to step into the shoes of their favorite professional baseball player can do so with ease, and not just the stars of today, but yesteryear as well.
It’s no secret to anyone who’s already played it, but this series is not for the pick up and play type crowd. There is a steep difficulty curve in playing ball here, and you might get easily frustrated with how hard it is to do the basics of fielding, pitching, and hitting. Once you get adjusted though, it becomes a brand new ballgame. Even if you can’t get the hang of it, there’s the simplified ‘Retro Mode,’ which allows a more basic control scheme and simple play style recalling the baseball video games of the nineties.
The typical year by year updates are present, the most notable being the presentation of the games altered to look closer to the MLB Network television channel. This is not just in the look of the games but the commentary as well, with former MLB player Mark DeRosa contributing commentary.
The overall look is very much the same to its predecessor. The change in ball physics by modeling the ball hitting a round bat rather than hitting a flat wall is still welcome, and lends itself to realistic flight patterns for line drives and fly balls. There’s even a new feedback response after each of your swings, absent from baseball video games since the legendary MVP Baseball 2005.
The players themselves look fantastic, the best yet of any installment in the series. The best players are of course the closest looking to their real world counterparts, but even minor players this year look better than years past. The general sleek design is still present and looks great, and should continue to look great for years to come. The newest feature getting much buzz is the option to create a custom batting stance for any player, including those you create, so you can make the virtual counterpart of yourself as accurate as possible.
Diamond Dynasty returns as the most popular mode of play for most. Create your own team’s uniforms, build your roster by earning cards of players through winning games, and play against other competitors online. You can also buy packs of cards just like real life, or earn in-game currency to purchase greater players on the open market. There’s a great deal of play required to build a competitive team though, so unless you’re willing to invest heavy hours into the game, this mode might be one to skip.
There’s still the other things to try, like the flagship mode ‘Road to the Show,’ where you take control of a mid level ballplayer and play through his career, and his success is up to you. The narrative based story you follow is set to some already decided player archetypes, so you can’t customize your player to a tee like previous years.
Other modes are pretty much the same. If there’s one place the franchise could improve, it is (ironically) the franchise mode. Much of it is exactly identical to the franchise modes of the last five years, and no improvements have been made to it. The mode is fun enough, but compared to other modern sports games it’s rather limited. There is no option to relocate your team for instance, or create a new expansion franchise somewhere in North America. It would make a whole new experience if even one change like that was implemented, and this mode in particular could really use it.
Like I said initially, the stars of today aren’t the only ones you get to play around with. This year brings even more retired greats than before, and the list of playable Hall of Famers is frankly astonishing. Last year’s addition of Ken Griffey Jr was welcome, but this year brings about Frank Thomas, Bob Gibson, Albert Belle, Mike Piazza, Vladimir Guerrero, and even the most famous ballplayer ever, Babe Ruth. Needless to say, you’ll be occupied for days on end just trying out these new players.
It’s another knock out of the park for San Diego Studios. Plenty of fun is to be had, whether it’s managing a squad, arranging lineups, overseeing the ownership of a club, or just duking it out on the diamond. Whether it be online, versus a friend, or just by yourself, MLB The Show 18 is still a solid choice for virtual baseball playing, but is exclusive to the Playstation 4.