The smell of fresh cut grass. The distant sounds of birds chirping. Flowers budding, sprinklers watering lawns, and digging shorts out of the closet. It’s almost springtime, which means only one thing; it’s time to play ball!
The beginning of Major League Baseball’s spring training also marks the release of MLB 11 The Show. The Show’s dominance in the baseball gaming genre is once again unchallenged with the release of their latest installment.
The Show’s developers could have hung their hat on their past accomplishments, but they made an already great game even better. Along with fine-tuning the graphics, there is a laundry list of new features in the 2011 title:
• Pure Analog Control System – Finally The Show incorporated the use of the analog stick for hitting, pitching and fielding. While batting, the right analog stick is used by pulling back to “load your swing” and pushing forward to swing. This creates more of a focus on timing and concentration. For pitching, the analog stick is pulled down and a meter fills up, similar to the classic meter, but the analog stick must then be lifted to match the correct release point in order to insure precise location. In the field, the analog stick acts as a representation for which base you would like to throw to: right for first, up for second… As in older versions of The Show, the longer you hold the analog stick, the harder, and sometimes less accurate, the throw. A new feature that is available with the analog control is the ability to perform fake throws to try to catch runners off guard.
• Co-Op Mode – Now players can play in 1 vs. 2, 2 vs. 2, or 2, vs. CPU multiplayer co-op games both online and offline. In the co-op mode, each player is given options to which roles to have on the team. The online games allow two consoles, with two players on each to play a game with two players on each team. I found there to be a little degree of difficulty batting while online, when the game lags a fraction of a second, the pitch timing is thrown off substantially, but it is fun none the less.
• Road to the Show – The flagship feature of The Show returns for the fifth installment and just like the other four, it is extremely deep and keeps the player coming back for more. For those who don’t know how the RTTS mode works, you create a player, assign attributes, equipment, positions, etc… then either enter the draft or chose a team’s association to join. Once a part of the organization, you are sent to the minors and begin your journey to make it to the Major League team of your organization, aka The Show.
This year, while creating your player, a slider menu helps chose your players mannerisms; power vs. speed, good arm vs, gold glove, contact hitter vs. slugger… which help set your initial limits as well as the direction of your advancement goals as you proceed through your career. Also revamped is the fielding. With previous versions, the game would start you off in the right direction when the ball was hit toward you, however, this year, if you make a step in the wrong direction, you better hope you can catch up to where you need to be or else you won’t make the play. A good fix from an issue of previous versions was the logic of your organization or manager. Prior to this year, your player would be subbed for or sub in on random parts of the game, not making any sense to the game situation, as well as promotions, demotions, or trades that didn’t make any sense to the team’s overall goal. This year, those issues were tweaked and the AI really showed a great improvement.
• Stadium Specific Camera Views – Anybody who watches enough Major League Baseball on TV knows that there are different camera angles for each stadium. Many of them have the generic center-field viewpoint, but other stadiums have unique camera angles based on the uniqueness of the building.
• Weather – Although baseball games don’t happen in the rain and it doesn’t snow during the season (except when Colorado made it deep into the playoffs…) but every once in a while, it will rain just light enough to play through. This year, every few games will be affected by the weather like that. Strong winds, soggy field conditions, temperature all factor into player performance.
• Playstation Move Compatible – For the first time, you can use the Playstation Move controller to truly swing for the fences in Homerun Derby mode.
• 3D Compatible – For those fortunate enough (or silly enough) to have a 3D TV. (I’m silly enough)
Overall, once again, The Show took their already successful franchise and made it even better. There are many other features that were added to the overall gameplay that make this the most authentic feeling sports game, not just for baseball, but for all sports. It may not have the hype that Madden or NCAA Football has, but this game is a major player in the sporting world. And it easily is one of the best Playstation exclusive games left.
[starreviewmulti id=2 tpl=20]
Overall = 8.8