MLB 10: The Show Review

By Jake Gaskill - Posted Mar 08, 2010

MLB 10: The Show delivers the most complete and realistic baseball experience of this generation. Sure, it throws a few balls ever now and then, but it delivers so many strikes that you'll want to keep it in your games rotation well into the postseason and beyond.

The Pros
  • Deep, rewarding and challenging
  • Stunningly detailed and animated
  • Road to the Show is grander than ever
The Cons
  • Clipping issues return
  • Commentators are bland jerks
  • Quirky AI issues

When it comes to capturing the feel and look of the game of baseball, Sony’s San Diego Studio is unrivaled, and they’ve proven it once again with MLB 10: The Show. It’s not a perfect game, and it still suffers from a number of issues found in last year’s iteration, but the overall package is something that no baseball-loving PlayStation 3 owner should miss. This one is meat.

It’s Showtime!

The reason The Show succeeds at being the most satisfying and realistic baseball game on the market is in the details. Sure, it has all the bells and whistles of a sports game (franchises, seasons, create a player, manager mode, etc), and it’s a stat-loving, micromanaging fiend’s dream, but it’s the game that plays out between the foul lines where the game’s heart truly resides. That’s because so much attention has been put into capturing every nuance, every gesture, every excited clap by a player after he pulls up at second base after smoking a double to start a big rally late in a game. There are a million of these little moments, and each are executed brilliantly.

The on-field action hasn’t seen many changes, and that’s understandable, given how solid the hitting and pitching mechanics were last year. What makes batting so great is how it requires you to consider every variable you would have to account for if you were actually at the plate (bat position, timing, plate coverage, etc.). Swinging is still relegated to hitting X for contact and Square for power, and while I complained about the lack of thumbstick controls in MLB 09: The Show, I’ve learned to accept the button-controlled swinging, but only because what I get in return from the game is so worth it.

One of the main reasons the hitting is so satisfying is that the programmers once again manage to portray the varying action and speed of pitches perfectly. When you swing over the top of a forkball or fish for a great slider, it’s impossible to feel cheated, because those pitches are supposed to look like fastballs until they reach the plate, and they do. Best of all, this means that you can actually learn to pick up pitches as they come out of the pitchers hand, which is a spectacular achievement that cannot be commended enough.

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Warning Track Power

Yet, for everything The Show gets right, there are still a few quirks that keep it from reaching that plateau of near-perfection that the series seems poised to reach in the next year or two. One of the most notable issues is that there is still a healthy amount of clipping whenever characters cross paths, particularly while sliding or when a fielder tags a runner.

There are also times when the computer simply doesn’t play logically. For the most part, the AI does a good job of avoiding your typical computer-controlled sports game BS, but you’ll definitely notice some weirdness if you put in any significant amount of time with the game.

In addition, the play-by-play commentary by Dave Campbell, Rex Hudler and Matt Vasgersian is as close to mute-worthy as any sports commentary I have ever heard. When it isn’t bland and stiffly delivered, it’s obnoxious, rude and insulting. I already feel frustrated enough when I swing at a bad pitch. I don’t need some jerk yelling at me for it too.

MLB 10: The Show

The Road Is F‘ing Hard (But So Awesome)

While a lot of baseball fanatics will spend the majority of their time with The Show’s franchise mode, or the new online seasons (now complete with injuries, energy management, free agency, and more), the Road to the Show once again delivers a spectacularly deep, grueling and rewarding experience. Some of the big additions include the ability to watch every pitch of every game from your player’s position, the new action tracker, which keeps tabs on whether you make good or bad decisions while in the field, and being able to use a solid number of free skills points right after you create your character. 

The biggest new feature is the ability to play as a catcher. In addition to calling every pitch (selecting a section of the plate and the pitch type), you will also be managing your pitcher to make sure he stays cool in tough situations, and generally running the show. It’s a lot of responsibility and it feels like when you’re sitting behind the plate game after game. Non-hardcore players need not apply.

MLB 10: The Show

Guarding the Online

Like everything in The Show, the online portion of the game can be as deep as you want. The online season mode has received a number of improvements, and will surely keep many competitive players busy for some time. The head-to-head gameplay is definitely there, and is everything that make the offline game so satisfying. However, there’s quite a bit of stuttering and slowdown during the games I played. Not only does this cause mistimed swings, but sometimes, the batter will have a shortened swing animation, which makes fielding hard hit balls almost impossible. Not sure if this is an issue that will be resolved in the next patch, but hopefully it will get ironed out soon.

Great Game. Great Game.

Do you love baseball? Do you have a PlayStation 3? You must own MLB 10: The Show, no question. While it’s unfortunate that the game still contains some of the same graphical hiccups found in last year’s installment, and you’ll run into a few weird AI things that will have you yelling “Are you kidding me?!”, there is enough brilliance in Sony San Diego’s game that these issues quickly drift into the background. It’s still early in 2010, but say hello to the first contender for sports game of the year.