Growing up, all my friends and all my family would gather to play baseball, and when the sun went down or it was cold outside and we couldn’t play. Ken Griffey Jr Presents Major League Baseball and later Ken Griffey Jr Slugfest. Throw in my obsession with The Sandlot and I was living the dream as a child, I consumed baseball like it was my job. I have been obsessed with the Blue Jays since we won back to back in 1992 and 1993 and though we came close last year, it was sad to see the Indians knock us out of contention during Game 5.
There isn’t any series like MLB The Show on the market. We have arcade games like Super Mega Baseball and R.B.I. Baseball, and while Super Mega Baseball has been a favourite of mine, and R.B.I. Baseball releasing to negative reviews and fanfare, MLB The Show is the most viable option to play baseball, since even the 2K series of baseball games haven’t been seen in four years.
I’ve spent over a dozen hours with MLB The Show ’17 and year after year, Sony San Diego impresses. This year is easily the best the series has seen, which I thought would be hard to trump given how significant MLB The Show ’16 was for the studio and the franchise, this is the best baseball game in the market. Period.
When booting up MLB The Show ’17, I was thrown into the tutorial mode to show my friend who I was about to play a game against all the controls and things he would need to know to get started. I was ready for backlash or some sort negative feedback from him. What I got was opposite, as we played together through the tutorial, learning three different ways to take on pitching, baserunning, and batting. Coming off Super Mega Baseball, he opted for a similar style of play, after testing all three styles out.
After a few games against each other, I navigated the menus to see what else we could do, and our usual favourite of home run derby was a crowd pleaser. The sound your bat makes when it successfully connects with a pitch, the satisfaction of rubbing the hit in your opponent’s face as they come in second place, these things add up into a mode I can’t get enough of when I have friends over to hang out.
After completing a dozen or so derby’s we decided to check out Road to the Show, a mode that I laid out for my guest as we explored the menus once more.
Road to the Show returns once more and allows you to create your own character who begins in the minor leagues and works their way into the major league and you can even carry over your save data from the previous year. The newest addition to Road to the Show is “Pave Your Path,” which is essentially a role-playing element added into the mode, effectively adding branch paths to go down with your character and allowing you to plan how your player ends up in the big leagues.
The new mode is told through cutscenes that are narrated and allow you to choose various dialogue choices when putting into different scenarios. The added variables of how your manager reacts to your choices as you select them to make, breathing fresh air into Road to the Show, and the best way to approach Pave Your Path is by either being honest or being an irate player with no respect for others. Guess which one I chose? Take heed, though, if you don’t play well with your team and cause trouble for the organization, there is worry to be found.
Granted, it is a first for the series and luckily the only way to go is up from here, with NBA and FIFA doing this for far longer, it’s a welcome addition to Road to the Show.
Ballparks look phenomenal and Sony San Diego has done their homework to nail the look and feel a multitude of a ballpark, and visuals have improved year over year, many players have been scanned into The Show ’17 creating an authentic look at some of the biggest names in the sport. The Rogers Centre has year over year improved with fidelity, and the hometown pride I feel when playing at the iconic stadium comes alive whenever I’m there.
MLB The Show 17 has solid animation, and this year an assortment of new animations is implemented allowing for more natural movements and reactions to both player and AI. A lot of the animations are subtle and you can see them when you’re pitching or at bat ready to drill the ball home. I barely noticed them at first but after playing with a colleague who eats, sleeps, and drinks baseball.
The in-game lighting is noticeably better than last year, even seasons and time of day are easy to tell apart due to how impressive the lighting works to differentiate.
Diamond Dynasty is the MLB version of EA Sports’ Ultimate Team mode and MyCareer mode in NBA 2K, and while it was not available during my time playing.
Retro Mode is something I can’t get enough of, it’s a simple version of The Show and is where the Ken Griffey Jr, who is also the cover star of this year’s MLB The Show. Retro Mode boils down to a one button mode that plays most like R.B.I Baseball, something even the real R.B.I hasn’t been able to do, it’s quick and easy to start a game and plays best with a buddy on the couch.
Franchise mode puts you in a different position entirely – running an entire MLB team, setting lineups, dealing with financials and more. Introduced this year is Critical Situations, which allows you to jump into you guessed it, critical situations! If you want to skip past parts of a game at any time, Critical Situations allows you to jump into those moments where history is made, you can also simulate the entire game and quick manage these moments if you don’t want to get involved.
MLB The Show ’17 drives the series forward once more and proves why baseball is home on PlayStation and with Sony Santa Monica. Improvements are found everywhere and provide alternate ways to play America’s Pastime, new AI drives home the game in ways other series still need to catch up to, and the ball physics are the best they’ve ever been.