MLB 09: The Show Review
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MLB 09: The Show improves on enough aspects of its predecessor to warrant its yearly purchase. With advancements in the Road to the Show and Franchise modes, gamers will be playing this title all year.
- The new training modes for Road to the Show
- The hot shot and bobble fielding situations
- The lighting and precise detail of the stadiums
- That online play isn’t as fluid as it needs to be right now
It’s that time of year again when the snow trickles away, the air warms up, and parents bring their kids to Spring Training to get a first glimpse at the superstars of tomorrow. Baseball season is right around the corner, and with it comes the annual release of what has quickly become the gaming industry’s greatest baseball franchise, MLB: The Show.
Last year’s release, MLB 08: The Show, corrected some of the series' minor flaws while delivering a simulation baseball experience unlike any other. SCE San Diego did a fine job re-tuning the fielding and pitching mechanics by listening to fans of the game over the developer’s off season. This year is no different. Due to the time spent conversing with the community, MLB 09: The Show actually raises the bar from past installments, which very few people thought possible.
Outside of the developers bringing in Dustin Pedroia for some serious motion capture sessions, the team has added in a substantial amount of unique player styles, as well as new tag and gameplay animations in order to polish the simulation experience. Furthermore, a new collision detection system has been implemented to remove the unrealistic plays of the past. Baserunners no longer freely run into defenders standing and waiting for the ball; instead, they try to circle around them to avoid the tag. These are just a few examples of technical changes to the gameplay that SCE San Diego produced for MLB 09 to turn it into an authentic baseball experience.
It’s no secret that The Show franchise has always and should always revolve around one of the best game modes of any sports title, Road to the Show. This mode allows gamers to create a custom player of their choice to play any position on the field. The objective is to play as your created player, turning him from a minor leaguer into a baseball legend. MLB 09: The Show gives you the option of entering your player into the first-year player draft or selecting a team of your choice. Once this is done, you’re given a variety of settings to configure to create a more enjoyable experience.
Much like last year’s title, Road to the Show is primarily played on the field. You're given goals to complete by your coach, like striking out a batter or throwing a runner out at home. All tasks result in one of four different outcomes: Goal Complete, Goal Failed, Goal Canceled and Positive Result. Depending on which goals you complete or fail, you’re given points at the end of each game that you can distribute to progress your player’s skills, which range from arm strength to contact against left-handed pitchers. When it comes to distributing training points, it’s always good to take note of what type of advancement goals have been set forth.
Advancement goals are periodic objectives that your manager or coach gives your player. This could involve something as simple as maintaining a .300% batting average over the next five series of games, or it could be a training objective like increasing your bunting ability to a certain point. These objectives help you move up the ranks as a player at a quicker rate.
One of the new implementations to Road to the Show 3.0 is the addition of training sessions. The developers have created special training sessions that focus on your batting techniques and base-running in order to improve your abilities in a different way than just dishing out training points. In these two mini-modes, players have the chance to gain plate vision, discipline, power and contact improvements in batting, or base-running aggression, speed and base-running ability in the base-running training mode. These are welcomed inclusions as they add an extra amount of authenticity while also providing gamers a nice change of pace from the games. They also offer another way to improve your player without having to dish out the training points to areas you may not be too concerned with.
Outside of these additions, Road to the Show provides a similar setting and gaming experience that fans of the series have come to love. This is also, once again, the mode you should and probably will spend the ... (continued on next page)