It’s not surprising that MLB The Show retains its position as the top baseball game in the business – but it’s nice to see that the series has managed to innovate despite its lack of competition. We played Sony’s baseball sim on the PS4 and here’s our review of MLB The Show 17.
The last time we reviewed MLB The Show, it was for the Vita version of MLB The Show 15. The 2016 edition of the franchise never appeared on Sony’s handheld and with that the series became a PS4 exclusive. Being a first party title this also means that baseball fans have no choice but to invest in a Playstation if they want to play the best baseball sim out there, but luckily this hasn’t led to complacency on Sony’s part.
Having said that, cynics will be quick to point out that the game is still quite similar to the previous editions – and to a degree they are right. The envelope isn’t pushed like it is by Pro Evolution Soccer and FIFA every year – regularly upgrading their game engines and trying to figure out how to edge out the other game. In MLB The Show 17, it’s the subtle changes that make the difference – while the basics that have proven themselves stay intact.
The most eye-catching change for me personally was the inclusion of ‘retro mode’, which is a simplified way of playing MLB The Show and provides a throwback to the classic one or two button controls of the videogames of the eighties and early nineties. It’s not just fun if you want to enjoy the kind of videogame baseball that you can just jump into without worrying about going through a long list of tutorials and possible control schemes – it’s also great for when you have a couple of friends over and want to enjoy some local multiplayer action without worrying about how much MLB The Show 17 they’ve played before. Retro mode is a more arcade-like experience, and for someone like me who secretly enjoys baseball games more than they like the actual sport, it’s a great new addition.
The well-known ‘road to the show’ career mode has received a few subtle enhancements as well, taking a few cues from the story-driven career modes in FIFA and NBA 2K. The career mode in MLB The Show doesn’t go for the cinematic dramatics of those titles though, but instead gives you a little bit more control over what happens off the pitch as well – and narrates the various decisions that you’ll be making as you’re doing it. It’s not spectacular, but it’s another change in the right direction.
The audiovisual presentation also received a few upgrades. Some of these are visual, but the most striking difference is in the in-game commentary. Having added two commentators to the roster, the commentary is now more diverse than ever and the risk of hearing the same lines over and over has been reduced significantly – it’s a much more dynamic experience than last year’s.
This makes MLB The Show 17 a must-own for baseball fans. Not content with already being the best, its developers went way beyond just an annual roster update and added subtle improvements in many areas of the game. The best got better.