You know, I have never really followed America’s favorite pastime. So, you might guess that when I was asked to review MLB 11 The Show on the PSP, I was a little overwhelmed. I took a deep breath, booted up my PSP and began my first MLB game since Ken Griffey Jr. on the SNES.
First off, I was told to give the Road to the Show mode (RTTS) a nice long try. That’s exactly what I did. I created a pitcher, was placed in the draft and was picked up by the Chicago White Sox. During spring training, I was given the opportunity to pitch with the major players in some exhibition games to see if I had the stuff to play for the team itself. Well, I didn’t, so they signed me for one year and put me in AA Minor League to get some experience. I played for the Birmingham Barons. In Road to the Show mode, you play as your player and just your player.
To begin with, I was just a relief pitcher that meant not pitching an entire game, just filling in when the manager needed me. After a getting some experience with relief pitching, I could finally ask my manager if he would put me in the starting roster. He agreed, and it went on from there. In RTTS mode, you are always trying to improve your player and work your way up to playing in the major league. It takes a lot of time and practice, and if you’re not careful, you could end up hurting your career instead of advancing it.
During the games themselves, you are given certain objectives to accomplish. I’m a pitcher, and there is no one on base with 1 out. In this situation, the goal might be to get ahead in the count. Easy. Just get one strike, and you’ve accomplished that goal. There are many goals that are given based on the position you play and how you handle the situation. Meeting those goals will reward you with points that you can use to enhance your player’s stats. Training can become very complex, especially, for a pitcher. You can upgrade each style of pitch with velocity, control, and placement or learn new pitches to have at your disposal. Over time, you will begin to see your training pay off. It’s a gradual increase in game play that works out nicely.
There is, of course, a standard franchise mode as well, where you choose a certain team and play through the season. You then get to play as the ball goes. Meaning, you start off pitching. If the ball is hit to 3rd base, you control the 3rd baseman and so on and so forth. In this mode, you play almost like the owner/manager of the team, substituting and trading players. This mode is for those looking for a more traditional baseball sim experience. MLB 11 is certainly not lacking in options, both RTTS as well as the franchise mode have full customization for players to utilize. Being new to the baseball game scene, it’s a lot to take in.
The game features a homerun derby where you can pit your favorite players against one another to have a fun time just knocking balls out of the park. Each player gets 10 strikes, and is allowed to let a ball pass if it wasn’t in the spot you wanted. There is also a quick game mode for the guys who just want to play some baseball.
Now for the mechanics of the game, The Show is a simulation through and through. I’m not going to lie and say I had the pitching down right from the beginning. In fact, there really is no tutorial in the game that shows you how to play. Granted, there is a menu that gives you a good idea of how to control the game, but you don’t really get a good grasp unless you’re actually playing the game. I would suggest playing quick exhibitions just to get the pitching and fielding down. When pitching, there is a meter that pops up on the screen. You choose what kind of pitch to throw and where you want to place it. After making your selection, the meter begins to fill. Hitting the X button will choose your power.
When it fills or when you hit the X button, a line will begin to go down the meter. Hitting X again will throw the ball. There is a bluish white color in the meter that serves as the “sweet spot.” Hitting the X button when the line is in the sweet spot will result in an almost perfect pitch. The batting is a little different depending on what difficulty you are playing on. On rookie, it’s all about timing your swing correctly. On the other difficulties, you are required to not only time your swing correctly, but have to choose where you want to swing, as well. The batting can become a little difficult at times, even on rookie.
MLB 11 does offer up multiplayer via Ad Hoc for players wanting to hook up with their friends for a few games. I can’t say if Ad Hoc party works with the game or not.
The only real problems I had with the game besides the lack of a playable tutorial, were small nuances. Some of the animations are a little off. It seems like every time a ball was fouled out, my pitcher thought the inning was over and began hustling it to the dugout. The announcers are nice, but after about two or three games, they start repeating dialog. My biggest problem is that you are required to have 40 or more points for training your player in RTTS. So, if you only have 35 points to spend, you can’t upgrade your player at all until you gain more.
I have to say, for a PSP title, the game is very competent. For a simulation baseball game, you can’t really beat MLB 11 The Show. For beginner players like me, it may take a few hours to get into the game. When you do, you will have a pretty good time with it. The options are in abundance for the players that want them, and if you’re just looking for a good baseball game, you can play it for just that as well. For the baseball fans out there looking for a good baseball experience on the go, look no further. The game really does hold it’s own on the PSP.
Review copy provided by publisher.