* Awarded 'Best Sports Game' 2009
The fourth time is a charm for Sony Computer Entertainment’s San Diego Studios as they hit a grand slam home run with MLB09: The Show. What is quickly becoming the most notable baseball game to date, we swing into the grounds to have a look at all the baseball goodness, exclusively on the Playstation 3, Playstation 2 and Playstation Portable.
Have you heard the praise? There is a new Major League slugger in town and its name is MLB09: The Show! Sony's baseball runner has finally come into its own with its best showing to date. Why Sony is so impressive is because it improves upon the solid foundation it’s been building since the series switch over to the Show format. Compared to the MLB 08, '09 has more of what you are expected, well rounded improvements without tampering with the money making formula.... and who could blame them? MLB 09: The Show is what all baseball games should all inspire to become.
After recently reviewing MLB 2K9, it’s clear as day that MLB 09 is the hitter to go to if you own a Playstation 3, or Playstation Portable. American’s favourite pastime is digitally brought to with authentic realism in The Show. The Show has always had stellar graphics and player animations and '09 is no different. If anything the graphics and presentation is more outstanding then ever. There is no comparison. The graphics and stellar animations isn’t the only aspect that should be highlighted. The whole feel of the game including high panoramic ballpark shots down to the player walk ups all have a nice real-world quality that was diligently crafted. The Show pushes even further focusing a little more on replays and cut-scenes which continue the games Live TV feel. As most of us realise Baseball can be a little slow, and thanks to San Diego’s attention to detail even the slow moments are interesting.
Besides the graphics Sony’s San Diego Studio continues to improve upon the foundation they have been careful developing over the years. This dedication shows a refinement in the controls that seem to be improving game by game. The pitching is one aspect that was focused on in '08 and it seems the trend continues in '09. MLB09 is still a meter based game, the no-thumbstick approach is easy for newbie’s to get into the grove rather than struggling with thumbstick motions like in MLB 2K9. On the other end of the spectrum some gamers who have adjusted to thumbstick sports might think The Show hasn’t embraced the future of sports gaming. In one aspect this is true, but since the system is so solid there is no need to rework it. The pre-pitch icon is a little touch other than that it’s easy to get into The Show and learn the craft of the game.
Hitting takes the same cue as the pitching by utilizing a simple button press mechanic. Timing is everything and even though you can’t get the motion of moving the thumbstick batting feels realistic. From pre-guessing the pitchers move to hitting power swings the Show showcases the wild-west showdown sensation you can get when a big hitter gets up to the plate. Hitting takes a certain amount of finesse and when you finally hit one of the park it will most likely be well deserved. If you are not hitting those homers like you where expecting s a new battling practice mode has been supplied with a virtual coach that can focus and tweak your in-game batting skills. This definitely ups the auntie and is a nice addition to the whole package.
After pitching and batting you have to turn your attention to fielding. In The Show the fielding controls are nailed although you can have a few seconds of delay when a throwing animation loads. For the most part the fielding shouldn’t cause you any problems and the A.I. seems to react a little more natural. This is thanks to the new Hotshot Fielding retooling which ads more dynamics into the mix if the fielder will catch the ball, head in the right direction or even miss the ball, ouch! Calculating a number of factors from velocity to speed hit and the weather during the game all plays a part in this behind the scenes improvement.
For game modes the Show is loaded full of goodness from the Rivalry mode to the outstanding franchise season. The upgraded Franchise 2.0 brings a host of new features including September call-ups, salary arbitration and more. The attention to detail has deepened which should please the hardcore baseball crowd. If you happen to fall outside this category you can still throw the computer on automatic control and enjoy the pleasure of playing at your own speed. The core experience is a solid as ever with some nice tweaks added into the mix .
The Road to the Show also returns with more interaction then before with an all-new steal and lead-off system. The road to the Show continues to be a solid adventure for those who don’t feel like running through a season. The goal focused gameplay is a great way to break up the monotony of running through a season, and even though Baseball can be a little tedious and at times it might feel like the A.I. is against you, sticking with the Road to Show always turns out to be rewarding. No matter how much I like to enjoy an exhibition game no and again, I find myself returning to the Road to the Show.
Online play has received an update so gamers can play out-of-order games. Like MLB 2K9 you can share you goodies online, I’m talking about your own custom rosters. The only foreseeable problem online are slight lag issues that can vary depending on your connection, I’m sure the graphical update isn’t helping much either. Online lag is something that can be patched to run more smoothly. I didn’t spend too much time online, and at the time of this review it was a like an empty stadium across the globe. I’m sure once baseball season kicks into gear the gamers will start to populate the online servers.
The sound in the Show is top notch and treats the gamer to real-world atmosphere which is only amplified in surround sound. The ambiance and crowd noise really helps put you into game as your favourite team. The announcers keep up the audio presentation with a great job delivering a rock solid performance. Even after a few hours of slugging away I never felt too tried of the banter even if some phrases where repeated. Adding a little extra touch is the ability to use a musical track off of your Playstation 3 and assign them to various points in the game including when you strut up-to-bat. All in all, MLB 09: The Show is a very solid, audio wise.
MLB 09: The Show refines the solid formula from its predecessors. MLB 09: The Show is the undisputed champion of gaming; hands down this is the best baseball experiences you can get. The Playstation 3 edition of the game is obvious and best way to experience The Show; however Sony still has love for the old PS2 if you haven’t made the leap yet. Equally inspiring is the Playstation Portable version that remains as fun as ever. If you enjoy Baseball games then you need to get in line to get a ticket for the Show.
Gameplay:9, Graphics:9.5, Sound:9, Innovation:8.5, Mojo:9 Final: 9.0 / 10