Baseball for everyone.
At one time, I was a baseball fan. I played Little League when I was a kid, and dropped off of it when I got into high school, but I always respected the sport. I haven’t paid too much attention to it in a while, but when the PS4 released, I decided to pick up MLB 14 The Show. Despite the fact I didn’t know a thing about current baseball, I fell in love with the Road to the Show mode and played over 20 hours just in that mode itself. I decided to skip The Show 15, and now here we are again with The Show 16 hitting just in time for opening day. So I’ll be talking more about what I remember from 14 and seeing what’s changed from that to 16. The differences between 14 and 16 are pretty dramatic, and all for the better.
Road to the Show is still one of my favorite modes in a sports game. This mode allows me to create my very own player, work them up the way I want, and move them towards making the Majors through the Minor League circuit. This mode allows for some really great improvements in developing my player. There are some interesting RPG elements to MLB 16. When adding training points that I’ve earned while performing well at bat and in my position, I can tailor make my player how I want and buff up the stats that matter to me. Along with that, at certain thresholds in the stats, I can unlock perks to equip to my player that can be both passive or one time use for games. These perks allow for better at bats or fielding scenarios that can help make or break a play, like having a pitch perfect for a good hit or having the next hit be a fly ball that can be used as a sacrifice to get a runner home.
Platforms: PS4, PS3
Price I’d pay: $59.99
It adds more action to the overall game and really keeps the player interested. Another thing that kept me interested is the fact that I can keep playing without having to drop to the menu after each game. If it was a series of games I had to play, once that game was over, I could easily hit an option to play the next game in that series without having to load out to the menu. It allowed for faster playing and had me going for “just one more game.”
Going along with the perks that kept me invested, the Showtime meter that slows down time to make better attempts at bat or when fielding a ball really adds a lot to the game. Rather than having me push the movement stick to where the ball is going to be, I can give myself a better reaction time and ultimately a competitive edge on the play itself. It keeps a player like my Short Stop from feeling like a passive player when the ball comes towards him. Along with that, making plays in certain aspects will slow down time and force me to aim my throws rather than just hitting a button. Preloading a throw is also required now, so even if I know where I want to throw the ball, I need to ready it by holding the button down. It feels like they added more strategy to the overall experience rather than just hitting buttons and hoping RNG doesn’t determine if I overshot my throw.
The Franchise mode is here and chock full of stats, options, and full rosters that have live updates every single day. Here, players can take their favorite team through the entire season allocating who plays, when to trade players, what they want to assign to them, and even the financial aspects of the game. A new feature is making sure players’ morale is high, otherwise their performance in game will diminish. It’s extensive and really scratches that itch for a full simulation game.
Diamond Dynasty mode is much like EA Sports’ Ultimate Team mode, where players can collect players and craft their very own team. It’s extensive as well. Allowing players to not only craft their team with current players, but even some of the best all star players from the past. On top of all that, they can create a team of their own by customizing the location, team name, uniforms, logos, and so much more. After all that, they can then take their teams online to play in custom league, exhibition games, or take on the AI. With each game, they can unlock even more players, stat boosting equipment, or stadiums for even more customization.
There’s a very interesting mode called Battle Royale. This mode has a player creating a team from a quick draft of players, then taking these teams online and playing in numerous rounds of baseball in shorter games. I looked at it like a collectable card game like Hearthstone. I was able to choose my players (cards) from a predetermined pool (deck) and have to work my strategy around that, then go head to head against other players that have done the same. It was such an interesting take on the genre and actually really addicting, and since I had to buy into tournaments using the in-game currency, I had to really think about my temporary team.
The visuals are just as good as the previous games. While there are a few wonky animations that don’t really work, from the overall distance especially in replays, the game looks downright stunning. The presentation is still great with the play by play commentary still sounding genuine. Although, I do have to say, I remember a lot of those voice clips being used in MLB 14. There are more in there, of course, but even after playing a few hours, players are going to hear the same things repeated.
MLB: The Show 16 is one of the best baseball games I have ever played. Granted, I haven’t played many in my life, but this one really does have some great things going for it. If you’re looking for a more personal approach, the Road to the Show is a fun place to start. If you’re looking for an in-depth look at the world of baseball as a whole, Franchise Mode has you covered. If you love collecting players and equipment through playing, Diamond Dynasty is a fantastic place for that. This game has it all, and on top of all that, with the improvements to the actual game play, it keeps the player invested and interested for hours. Baseball fans shouldn’t think twice about picking this one up.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.