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Which title will be the 2018 Game of the Year?

Red Dead Redemption 2
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Forza Horizon 4
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Game Profile
FINAL SCORES
9.0
Visuals
9.5
Audio
10
Gameplay
9.5
Features
7.5
Replay
8.0
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
PlayStation 4
PUBLISHER:
Sony Interactive Entertainment
DEVELOPER:
SIE San Diego Studio
GENRE: Sports
RELEASE DATE:
March 26, 2019
ESRB RATING:
Early Chil
IN THE SERIES
MLB The Show 18

MLB The Show 17

MLB 14: The Show

 Written by Chris Woodside  on April 03, 2019

Reviews: Sony San Diego once again swings for the fences with the latest entry in the MLB the Show franchise.


”MLB

The MLB The Show series has long been among the most realistic and very best that modern sports simulation has to offer in the video game industry. Despite being around for a fraction of the time that other series have, particularly the long-running Madden franchise, this is quite the accomplishment. The past few years, however, The Show community has grown a bit impatient over the lack of substantive changes in the series year to year, and as a result, this year’s entry into the series features some of the most important improvements in years, even if the flagship Franchise mode appears to be copy and pasted from last year’s.


For those who play primarily offline, the biggest addition to this year’s version of the game is the highly promoted “March to October” mode, giving you an opportunity to win a World Series with your team in a single sitting or two, by integrating a simulated season while allowing you to play some of the most critical moments throughout the season. Importantly, your results in those key moments don't only affect the context of the current game you are playing, but have wide-reaching ramifications on the course of your team’s season. The inclusion of sideline reporter Heidi Watney is a nice touch as well, as her comments throughout your team’s March for October helps connect the experience with a cohesive storyline, and prevents the mode from becoming a monotonous and mundane set of tasks that you must complete over and over. The ability to earn rewards for use in Diamond Dynasty also encourages you to replay this mode with other teams and adds some more meat to the bones to this newest introduction to the series.



Of the offline modes returning to the series, the one that has received the most fundamental overhaul is easily Road to the Show. While last year’s iteration of the show added some important quality of life improvements (with the most significant one being the elimination of stubs and microtransactions as a way to fast track your player to the majors), this year saw an entire overhaul of what a career mode in sports video games can be. This year’s Road to the Show leans more heavily into the RPG aspects than any career mode available in any of the major sports titles on the market. From the very beginning of your career, not only do you choose an archetype as you did last year, but you also can choose personality styles. I found this to be a meaningful addition to the mode, as baseball, now more than ever has become about the explosive personalities in the clubhouse, and it really adds to the immersion of being a professional ball player. Not only can you choose to replicate the skills of your favorite superstar on the diamond, but you can also choose to be a polarizing lightning rod who seeks all of the attention, or serve as the calm and collected anchor of the clubhouse. All of these decisions you make early on in your career, as you choose to invest points in each of these personality trees, allows for each playthrough of a player’s career to be as dynamic and unique as the real personalities present in baseball.

Sadly, for those who still crave a meaningful offline baseball experience, the innovations stop here. Franchise mode remains virtually unchanged. While the introduction of contract extensions midseason and more accurate contracts and financial realism would have been a welcome improvement a few years ago, the fact that these features are already present in other sports video games make this year’s introduction of it feel lukewarm and overdue. While longtime fans of the series will still find the fun and engaging franchise mode they have come to know over the years, those looking for a hyper-realistic GM experience may be disappointed with the lack of improvements the past few years. Still, the ability to carry over save files of your franchise from the previous year (a feature still yet to be replicated in the EA and 2K sports gaming universe) is a very attractive feature for those fans looking to make a long term investment in your team and is unrivaled by any other sports video game on the market.

”MLB


As much as the MLB The Show series has received criticism from fans over the years for investing too much time and energy into their online Diamond Dynasty mode over the traditional offline experience, it must be pointed out just how gamer friendly their online mode has become over the years. While the option to buy stubs to purchase players is still available, you never feel forced into needing to spend real-world money on in-game microtransactions in order to field a competitive team. While it is understandably (albeit frustratingly) hard to obtain some of the top legends players without opening up your wallet, the in-game economy has been balanced to such a point that you can still field a quality ball club simply playing the different online game options and earning stubs as you play. One of the most underrated features of Diamond Dynasty the past few years has been the structure of the bi-monthly events that are held. These events force the player to field a team that fits a strict criteria that prevent players who simply bought all the best cards from dominating the field, and often requires you to use some of your bronze and silver mid-level cards in order to form a team. The reward for succeeding in these events are some of the more valuable cards you can earn and provides a meaningful way to break into the in-game economy without breaking your real world bank.

The introduction of Moments into the Diamond Dynasty family was also a welcome addition. This new mode allows you to relive some of the most iconic moments of baseball history, such as the famous “called shot” by Babe Ruth in the World Series. It is a very cool feeling to relive these famous moments, and the immersion is even more impressive thanks to the black and white filter that feels as though it is transporting you back in time. At launch, however, these moments are mostly limited to some of the earliest moments of baseball history. As more moments are added throughout the year, it would seem a missed opportunity if more recent events are not available for fans to either relive or change the course of history. This mode just seems to be begging for the opportunity to change the course of the 2004 ALCS, though my bias as a Yankees fan may put me in the minority on that.



The gameplay improvements this year are also some of the most significant the series has seen in a number of years. Many of the most iconic faces in Major League Baseball for years suffered from poor player models, which has finally been addressed. Fielding has also been overhauled to better reflect the attributes of the people you have in the field. No matter how good of a player you are, gone are the days of being able to make the same plays with a generic outfielder that you are able to make with some of the top tier players like Mike Trout. This also translates to an added importance of playing players in the positions that they are suited too, with larger penalties for putting someone out of position. For longtime players who are not used to this improved defense, there will be some learning curve and some frustrating errors, but I found it worth it in the end for the sake of making the top fielders stand out more in their position for their natural talent, and helps separate them from their more mediocre counterparts.

For the diehard baseball fan, its impossible not to recommend MLB The Show. Not only is it the best baseball video game available, but it is also arguably the deepest and most realistic sports simulation title available. The series is not perfect, and its lack of focus on offline modes for those hoping for the more traditional baseball experience (rather than building a fantasy team online) will undoubtedly be frustrated with the lack of improvements, but the good news for all fans of the series is just how little actually needs to be improved. This year’s iteration for the series is another home run and one that every baseball fan should experience.



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