MLB The Show 2023 video game releases

Review: MLB The Show 23

MLB The Show 23 steps up to the plate.

It’s in a little bit of a controlled hitting slump of late, with the game feeling incredible when it comes to mastering graphics and sounds… That’s right, I am looking at you, Madden 23, with your first year of truly dynamic crowd audio and your continuously Google Maps-like backgrounds.

Oh, would you look at that! MLB The Show 23 has a base hit, and it advances another runner in the long-running franchise. But it has the potential to be belting homers, so it needs to take the off-season to learn from some of its sports simulation competitors and balance itself.

But let’s not start with the strikes. What are some of the hits?

Audio that hits it out of the park

MLB The Show 23 once again hammers SIE San Diego’s stellar sound design. I mentioned in the opening how EA Tiburon has only recently started experimenting with dynamic audio. SIE San Diego has been doing it for years across its catalogue, and it shows. Calls from the umpire and base judges are clear and so very omnidirectional using the PS5’s 3D Audio settings.

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Audience cheers and bat-to-ball connections are the real stars of The Show 23. They are crisp, precise, and so satisfying. I find myself catching up with the crowd and other players almost immediately following a play.

Homerun History

In terms of the things that MLB The Show 23 emulates extremely effectively from sports sims of late is its ability to simulate real-life moments in baseball history as part of its “Storylines” mode that focuses on great moments in MLB history and with a sizeable new focus on the Black players that made strides in advancing the game for everyone. There’s even some tremendous Canadian representation with The Chatham Coloured All-Stars factoring into the playable moments on offer.

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The way that MLB The Show 23 takes a page from NBA 2K23 and allows you to play these moments with visual and auditory aesthetics from the time or today is a great element of inclusion and personal choice that I feel adds a lot to the overall polish of The Show 23.

MLB’s Road to the Same Show

But growth in “Storylines” and The Show’s fantasy teambuilder mode, “Diamond Dynasty,” appears to be taking a designated hitter position in terms of what the gameplay is here.

I am a big fan of how “Diamond Dynasty” takes a lot of feedback from reviewers and fans and offers more card packs and vanity rewards just for playing and also provides many customization options like player-specific plays and animations to keep the game fresh., These also expand over into “Storylines”, which is a nice touch.

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For me, the “Road To The Show” create-a-player mode is where a lot of my desire to play The Show comes from. Keeping these modes the same year after year in favour of online game modes is a practice that is becoming adopted by more and more sports sims as developers are discovering there’s more residual income from game modes that include digital storefronts and card packs to open up. Debating the merits of putting more focus on online modes with microtransactions is not something that I have the time and desire to debate in their review, so I will take the stance that if that is the path that’s right for the future of The Show, then the single player mode is showing as being overlooked.

It adopts an in-the-dressing room hub that offers you a way to look at your stats and standings, change out equipment and buffs, see upcoming games and work out on days off. Every now and then, a staged scene will trigger in response to how you have been playing, often with a buff. But it all feels a little dated when compared to something like NBA 2K23‘s “My Career” mode, which introduced “The City” as a large interactive hub that is full of microtransactions but also adds a number of single-player and co-op game content. I feel like The Show could benefit from trying something similar with future outings.

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Verdict

MLB The Show 23 is a great choice this year for sports simulators. SIE San Diego is doing what they do best when it comes to the presentation of the game. However, I continue to grow weary of sports simulators letting their career and franchise modes suffer in exchange for these co-op games as service modes and models, and I think The Show struggles with that this year. But it’s all right here if you are looking for some baseball and baseball history. 

Recommended

[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.]

Reviewed on: PlayStation 5

MLB The Show 2023 video game releases
Summary
Verdict
MLB The Show 23 still leads sports simulators when it comes to presentation and design. But with greater focus being given to fantasy and history game modes, The Show appears to be moving further from the single-player mode it's named for.
Liked
Still the best audio and visual presentation in sports games
"Storylines" is a great example of how sports simulators are becoming great history lessons
Didn't Like
"Diamond Dynasty" and "Storylines" are the stars of this season. "Road To The Show" and "Franchise" could use some spring training.