Simulation sports games have a doubly difficult job: not only are they tasked with delivering a realistic playable version of a particular sport, but they also must present an experience that looks and sounds like a television broadcast of that sport. Sony’s MLB The Show series has excelled in both areas for years. But because sports games come out on an annual basis, consumers demand even more -- each new iteration must be markedly different from, and better than, its predecessors.
MLB 10 The Show (PlayStation 3 [reviewed], PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2)
Other visual additions in MLB 10 include dynamic fans and off-field players: fans seated in the front row will reach over the railing to try and grab a foul ball, and players in the dugout will duck to avoid balls hit in their direction. You’ll even see pitchers warming up in real time after you put them in the bullpen. And the developers finally addressed a longtime gripe of mine -- collision detection. It’s still not perfect, but at least it’s not completely absent like in years past.
It’s a shame, then, that the most impressive aspects of MLB 10 simply evaporate when playing the game online. The Show has been continually held back from true greatness by its sub-par online play, and sadly, it’s no better this time around. I played ten or so games, most of which ended prematurely when the player on the other end quit due to pervasive, crippling lag. Perhaps it’s my wireless connection, but for what it’s worth, I haven’t had issues with any game besides The Show (both MLB 09 and MLB 10).
Again, MLB 10 offline is an experience that’s second to none. The addition of Catcher Mode in Road to the Show -- no doubt influenced by the cover athlete, Joe Mauer -- finally makes it worthwhile and rewarding to play as a catcher. Instead of merely throwing out runners and fielding balls in front of the plate, you get to call the pitches -- and in a nod to the dreams of catchers everywhere, your pitcher can’t shake you off. MLB 10 has shorter load times than MLB 09, but I’ve seen some strange loading issues where you won’t be able to press a button for a few seconds after it appears that the game has finished loading a new screen, as if the game is temporarily frozen.
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