MLB 11 The Show Review

22 03 2011

Introduction

For the past few years the MLB The Show franchise has been regarded by most sports fans as the diamond performer of the baseball simulation games. Despite battling repetition, like all sports games, the developer over at Sony San Diego have consistently put out a stellar product each and every year. They hope to duplicate that success this year with numerous upgrades and revisions. the most notable being the addition of analog stick controls to the series.

With that said can MLB 11 The Show continue its current dynasty run at baseball supremacy or will this years installment simply strike out? Continue reading to find.

Single Player

Although I haven’t played a baseball game since Bases Loaded on the NES I am a huge fan of sports in general. The fact that my T.V. is almost exclusively tuned to ESPN and that my SMS tone is the SportsCenter theme should be proof of that. I mention those facts to reiterate that despite being a sports fan I have found that most sports games have become unplayable to the casual fan due to the level of detail and control the player must posses.

While MLB 11 The Show has that minute level of detail and management sports fans enjoy it does not over complicate how it is carried out. For example the new analog pitching gives you much more precision which is vital for success but is also more fluid and immersive than the traditional face button controls. These new analog controls are challenging and realistic but can be mastered with some experience. The pitching controls aren’t the only thing being converted, all of the controls now have an emphasis on analog controls.

While it did personally have a steeper learning curve than pitching I have similar praise for the analog hitting as well. Simply pressing back on the analog stick to transfer your weight back then pressing the stick forward to time your swing with the pitch again just feels more natural than simply pressing a face button. These motions let you feel the pace of the game more intimately resulting in a greater engagement of the game. I did not however enjoy the analog controls for fielding as I found it much easier to keep jumping and diving mapped to the right stick and use the face buttons to control which base to throw to.

That said because each player will have different preferences and strengths you can easily mix and match your analog and button control scheme to fit your play style which is a huge plus. Better yet this customized control scheme will carry over to all game modes including online.

Speaking of game modes The Show is packed full of options and all of the traditional sports game modes are present including exhibition, franchise and season modes. These modes are fairly self explanatory for instance in exhibition you choose your team and play against another player or the CPU whereas in franchise mode you pick an organization and control everything from ticket prices to concession prices. Then obviously in season mode you again choose a team and play through the grueling 162 game season with hopes of playing into October.

The mode this series is best know for however is The Road to the Show which is basically a create a player mode. As you start up you create a player to man any position on the diamond. Once you manually adjust some sliders regarding the type of player you want its off to double A. Here is where you will develop your player through training modes and in-game performance in hopes of making the transition through the minor leagues to one day playing in the big show under the bright lights. The way The Show has chosen to develop a pro seems more sensible and accurate than previous games. As an example instead of just rewarding specific milestones in-game like RBI’s or homeruns you instead get training points based on each at bat. Let’s say you strike out but it took 10 pitches to do so instead of not getting any points like you would before you know will be granted a small amount under the new system since you made the pitcher work. The training modes also seem more purposeful in developing a useful talent. All of this adds up to a much more realistic and enjoyable way to have your player progress than I have previously seen.

A problem I’ve had with other sports titles was establishing a sense of place and time. The stadium or sports complex never felt lively or changed with the flow of the game. The Show was able to fulfill this illusion in multiple ways. First off graphically the game looks amazing but the small details like all 30 stadiums having their real life jumbotrons realistically placed and represented and the stadium specific chants adds an authenticity while also allowing each individual stadium to have a personality all their own. This attention to detail really adds to the level of engagement and realism and is what further sets this game apart from its competition.

Multiplayer

Due to the amount of skill and dedication to play sports games I was never a huge fan of playing competitively online. Unfortunately MLB 11 The Show provides no incentive to change that. While it technically works besides a few occasions were I ran into lag issues I would have just rather played against a computer or buddy sitting on the couch next to me.

The one bright spot in my eyes for multiplayer was the addition of the unique Challenge of the Week. It’s an interesting incentive to not only perfecting your skills but to compete with friends in a controlled arcade style fashion via online leaderboards. In this mode you are given one free try a week to score as many points as possible in a scenario based event such as Joe Mauer hitting against CC Sabathia. Each week winners are awarded real-life prizes like authentic signed jerseys. If your not happy with your first score you can play an unlimited amount of times at a cost of $0.25 per attempt. Hopefully this mode can breathe some life in an otherwise stale online mode.

Overall

The baseball game genre has taken some big strides since Bases Loaded and MLB 11 The Show appears to be the pinnacle so far in that aspect. The new analog controls provide precision and depth but are not impossible to use for the newcomer. The Show also provides an abundance of different modes that can please each type of fan with a compelling, engrossing and custom fit baseball fantasy that is unmatched in any sports game to date.

The MLB season doesn’t officially start until March 31st but don’t tell Sony San Diego that as MLB 11 The Show is the closest replication to Americas favorite past time as you can buy. If your a fan of baseball or sports games altogether then I believe The Show is a game you should definitely pick up even if you have been away from the genre for awhile like myself. Play Ball!

MLB 11 The Show for the PlayStation 3 was provided to me for reviewing purposes by Sony Computer Entertainment. I played through an entire 162 game season as the Texas Rangers and ended up making the playoffs. I also subsequently played a handful of games online and competed in the Challenge of the Week while obtaining 8 of the available 36 trophies. MLB 11 The Show was developed by SCE San Diego and published by Sony Computer Entertainment and was released on March 8th 2011 exclusively for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 2 systems.

To read about our stance on the review process click here for more answers. Find all of other reviews here; better yet bookmark that section so you won’t miss any of our future reviews as well. If you would like other information to be included in the reviews give us some feedback and let us know, or if you would like us to review a specific title drop us a line we welcome and encourage your feedback. Enjoy!

Advertisements




inFamous 2: Details & Release Date Revealed

18 03 2011

Sucker Punch and their 2 year secret

The Game Developers Conference (GDC) is just that, a conference for game developers, however each year we continue to see more and more game announcements and this year was no different. One of the more exciting announcements for me personally was in regards to one of my highly anticipated games of this year, inFamous 2.

Those that have followed me for very long know that I enjoy a good open world role playing game in the likes of Fallout 3 and that I absolutely adored the 2009 blockbuster hit inFamous. Therefore I was already looking forward to this title and not much more needed to be done or said in order for me to pre-order the game.

Sucker Punch however was holding on to one final knockout punch that they unleashed at GDC which is that inFamous 2 will feature user generated content. This user generated content will grant inFamous 2 players the ability to use the open world city, New Marais, Sucker Punch created as a foundation to create an endless amount of new missions then share them with the PlayStation community.

Creators will have access to the same set of characters, props and creatures via an accessible and robust editor – think Little Big Planet or ModNation Racers – that the developers had access to. Players can also easily test their missions within this seamless editor and eventually upload their level with a tagging feature again similar to Little Big Planet.

Once uploaded these user generated levels will show up in the world just like regular story missions. These missions can be sorted in game by highest rating, most played or even to show only those highlighted by Sucker Punch themselves. If you are not interested in a world filled with user generated story markers you can even filter all of the user generated levels to not show at all.

inFamous 2 Release Date

So if you are like me and are now eagerly awaiting the release date then you are in luck since Sucker Punch recently announced a release date, June 7th 2011, as well. A Hero Edition was also announced and will be available for $99.99. The Hero Edition includes the following:

  • Detailed 8.5″ Cole Statue
  • Replica Cole Sling Pack
  • inFamous DC Mini Comic
  • Collector’s Edition Soundtrack
  • inFamous 2 Super Voucher: Includes all pre-order bonuses and in-game content

Honestly June 7th can not come soon enough and I have already pre-ordered the Hero Edition despite not being much of a collector’s edition fan. I suggest you do the same as I have no doubt this will be a quality title that I for one will ultimately enjoy.

What are your thoughts on these announcements and inFamous 2 in general? Let me know in the comments below.