At the age of 25, David Allen Wright from the New York Mets graces the cover of 2007 edition of MLB: The Show. Hooked up with full Major League Baseball support Sony keeps inching their franchise forward looking to strike out all their competitors.
I’m slowly beginning to get into baseball again, and that's not because the sport is more interesting to watch on TV. It’s because sports in gaming is advancing and becoming more visually stimulating along with providing deeper and more realistic gameplay. Both nodes can be given to MLB 07: The Show. Sony's baseball franchise on the PS2 or PSP is a great baseball experience that should please any hardcore baseball fan, and the occasional batters. If you're like me then The Show might even renew your interest in the sport.
Some new aspects have been made to the PSP version of The Show in 2007 which make the game even better than last years version. In a smart move the gameplay has some improvements without messing around with their already established winning formula. One new feature in MLB '07 is the ability to create a profile and track your in game progress. The profile system features goals that can be earned for unlocking points making registering worth the few minutes it takes. There are plenty of unlockables including old timers and fun Easter eggs.
This year Sony has also turned its focus towards the pitching mound with a number of improvements that even out the attention paid to the batters in last years revision. What I'm talking about is API (Adaptive Pitching Intelligence). This is a highlighted marker that your catcher gives you suggesting where you should pitch the ball. The marker lights up for a split second so you need to be paying attention. The catchers AI makes decisions based on the in game standing and the player strengths that is up for bat. Since I’m a novice at pitching, hitting is always more fun; but the new API system really helped me bring a new approach to my bad pitching skills in return the pitching became just as fun. The A.I. is aggressive and will force you to switch up your pitches in a realistic matter. I found it interesting that the other team was learning my pitching style early since I was only good at two styles of pitches. With the A.I. improved and more focused upon the pitching aspect of the game makes for a more interesting game that has you switching things up and getting more involved in the game.
Besides the A.I. the actual act of pitching the ball has been made easier and in the same right more complex. The new pitch command system helps gamers out by showing the pitches you can use when you’re on the mound along with a confidence level. The more you use a pitch the more your confidence will grow and the meter over the pitch type will increase. I would normally build up one strength until your character is ultra-confident, but then the adaptive A.I. will catch you over using a single pitch. The best thing to do is switch it up and try to build them all up, or just pretend you’re Walter Johnson.
The base running has also been adjusted in 07 with a new targeting system that simplifies base running. Now you can control and target you teammate by pressing on the analog stick until they blink on the display. Then just press the direction you want to go and you can start the dangerous attempts at stealing bases. Base running has always been difficult for me in MLB and I usually left it alone, now I can be more daring on the field and try to gain the advantage.
For more changes Sony has added umpire personalities. I didn’t notice this as much as the new features, but I guess it makes sense because at times I was questioning the umps calls. You can three personality types of umpires, one with a tight strike zone, another with a wide strike zone, and lastly the straight and narrow, down the middle ump, who calls everything as is. It’s a little daunting at first if you get the stickaler, but if you have the open fields then you might praise this new feature.
For game modes we have a new mode in MLB 07: The Show with “The Road to the Show” option in the Career mode. In this mode you will have to work your way up through the ranks hoping to make ‘The Show’. Accomplishing this takes patience, but luckily its fun. Your manager will give you situation based goals that you need to accomplish to stay in his good books along with advancing your career. Some of the goals would be to do special pitches, steal bases, or lay down a sacrifice for example.
A few other tweaks have been made to the online system with the ability to set up and join up leagues that boasts up to 30 teams. Also with the online player card you can see all that stats around a player, including their stats and their online habits, it’s all the jazz and then some. If you’re a persistent online gamer you can also watch a game live with the MLB Live Gamecast. If you have the free time, the option is available, running in real time. MLB 07: The Show and Sony continues building up their online community features with is showing attentiveness to the online market, something that their other handheld competitor is neglecting.
The slick presentation and hard rocking soundtrack returns to catch which looks good to catch anyone’s eye. Just one question? Does the target audience of baseball games really listen to this much new emo-rock and gangster rap? Hey, it’s cool to hear local boys Alexis on Fire in the game, but I think a more mainstream classic rock soundtrack merged with a list of new talent would be the best. Aside from questioning the music integrity of MLB 07: The Show the Playstation's little brother is almost up to par with the Playstation 2 version.
In face value this years The Show might not seem that improved, but it looks like the graphics have been cleaned up a bit along with the small frame rate issue being adjusted, although it could be still improve upon. The only problem that I can note is a few camera angle issues and reused animations which doesn’t ever hinder the gameplay. MLB The Show is a progressive work of optimization that keeps improving year by year. I have nothing but good things to say about MLB 07: The Show graphics and audio.
MLB the Show ’07 continues to progress upon their Show franchise. In 2007 the focus has been placed on the mound with improved artificial intelligence and new features and controls. For baseball fans who haven’t checked out The Show yet, buy your ticket. To address gamers who already own last years version, I would give the nod towards picking up the 2007 edition if you find yourself enjoy the game for any length of time. Once again Sony bats another version in.