Back for its fifth time around the diamond, ‘MLB 10: The Show’ once more swings for the fences on the PlayStation Portable.
Let’s get this out of the way: While of the same namesake and marketing ilk, there’s little logic in comparing cross-console versions of Sony’s top-notch hardball franchise. Quite frankly, the PS3 version remains the apple in Sony’s eye and for good reason, with end product noticeably superior to its sister iterations. A devil’s advocate, however, would logically chalk this up to user base, available hardware, and profit margin attached to a $60 MSRP. And I’d agree with this Luciferian solicitor.
On its own merits, however, the PSP versions of ‘MLB: The Show’ are consistent Cy Young Award contenders of the portable baseball sphere, outstanding representations of America’s self-proclaimed pastime. Its only competition is anything but: MLB 2K is absolute rubbish in portable format.
Ridiculously playable, outstanding graphics and sound, and a deep online system (roster updates and multiplayer) combine to make The Show an arguable must-buy, yearly purchase for the sports gaming aficionados among us. Truth be told and like clockwork, I’ve picked up both Playstation 3 and PSP versions of The Show since Opening Day of the Series in ’06.
To be fair, yearly updates to the series were often minimal, relegated to roster updates, subtle gameplay tweaks and/or audio-visual upgrades. Vernon Wells is still…Vernon Wells (for better or for worse). Go Jays, go (clap clap clap clap clap). Moreover, the Road to the Show mode – the game’s bread and butter - remains virtually identical across the series. Some hiccups along the way of note, i.e. a weird camera shift stutter of MLB 07 on the PSP, baserunning quirks of MLB 08 on the PS3.
Something peculiar, however, happened between this and last year’s version of The Show for PSP, a phenomenon specific to this platform. In a ‘WTF?!’ moment, the good folks at Sony decided to remove infrastructure mode entirely from MLB 10: The Show for the PSP. In turn, there went intelligent roster updates and multiplayer (in exception to adhoc) play. In its place is a new baserunning engine (which is quite good, albeit a bit difficult to get used to at first), likewise sharper in-game menu items meant to resemble those on the PS3. Same announcers, stadium models, some new songs.
For newcomers to this series on the PSP, none of the above makes a damn difference. The game still plays wonderfully, looks terrific, and roster updates will eventually find their way online via manual up/downloads. (Gamefaqs is often a good source for such knowledge.) The Road to the Show mode remains awesome, with it a blast to take a stab at cracking a major league lineup across several different positions. (I’m currently a switch-hitting catcher for the Houston Astros.) This is $40 well spent.
On the flipside, there’s almost no reason whatsoever for MLB 09 PSP owners to trade in their copies for this nearly identical, offline only version. It’s pretty much the same game, only…less robust, feature-wise. See: ‘WTF?!’. I’m finding it difficult to counter the logic of simply purchasing a used copy of MLB 09 from the get-go versus the almost identical yet downgraded 10 version.
MLB 10: The Show for the PSP remains the premier portable baseball title around. A peculiar decision, however, finds infrastructure mode eliminated from this version, and with it roster updates and worldwide multiplayer play. Updated presentation and baserunning dynamics complement an already strong series.
For series newbies, it’s hard not to recommend picking this up, manually updating rosters throughout the season. MLB 09: The Show veterans will encounter much of the same, and in some ways less due to the online limitations. Ironically enough, not a very different overall sentiment from the bigger, badder Playstation 3 version.
Gameplay:8.7, Graphics:8.6, Sound:8.2, Innovation:5.2, Mojo:7.1 Final: 7.6 / 10
Reviewed by Paul Stuart | 03.19.10