A new baseball season is just about upon us and that means a brand new baseball game. Find out what we thought about this year’s offering in our MLB The Show 17 review!
It’s amazing to me that MLB The Show 17 remains the only baseball simulation game out there. There are other arcade games like RBI Baseball, but those aren’t anything like The Show and cater to a completely different audience, which is fine. The Show has done so many things well for so many years that it’s really hard to see anything competing with it. The problem with it being the only game remaining is that this series can become complacent. It doesn’t need to innovate or experiment with new features because it’s the only baseball simulation. Luckily for fans of the series, the game doesn’t need competition to push it to be better. MLB The Show 17 takes some great steps to making the game more authentic and enjoyable.
The heart of the improvements in MLB The Show 17 has to do with the presentation aspects of the game. The menus have been updated while still retaining the ease of use that has been a staple of recent games. The in-game lighting has been tweaked a bit and really gives you a feel for the type of day you’re playing in. It’s a small, but notable change that adds to the realism.
The animations have really been expanded on in this version of the game. I noticed a lot of new types of hits during my time playing the game. The best way I can describe it is that the ball reacts more like it would in real life coming off the bat. There are spinning ground balls, floating liners, and the wind can even carry fly balls at times. There’s much more variety.
The animation improvements don’t stop at hitting, they carry over to fielding as well. One of my biggest complaints about MLB The Show before this year was that runners would occasionally beat out throws because the fielder wouldn’t show enough urgency. That’s now a thing of the past. Fielders now read the runner to determine how fast they need to throw the ball resulting in fewer issues. In the outfield, sometimes fielder will get too quick of a jump on the ball only to watch it slip by for extra bases or getting a poor jump requiring them to make a diving catch. The game just feels so much more unpredictable now, much like a real MLB game would be.
On top the new gameplay animations, there is integration with the MLB Network. You’ll see some new presentation elements like the Showtrack which provides a stat overlay on some replays. It’s much like watching a television broadcast of an MLB game and is a nice touch. EA’s NHL series did this a few years ago with NBC and a new broadcast team and it added a lot of legitimacy to that game. It definitely has the same effect here.
One of the best things is the refresh of the commentary team with Harold Reynolds and Dan Plesac joining the game along with series staple Matt Vasgersian. Vasgersian is still the main guy doing play by play, but Plesac and Reynolds offer insight and information in between plays. The 3 men work well together and the commentary sounds really natural. There is some repetitiveness here and there, but that’s to be expected for the limited amount of recorded content. It’s still the best commentary that the series has had thus far.
Road to the Show received a major upgrade this year in the form of a documentary style career mode. This isn’t quite the same as the NBA 2K style, though. You make certain decisions that impact your career. For instance, I was drafted by the Colorado Rockies and I has the chance to go back to college and not start out in AA that year. I chose to start the year, but my story would have played out differently has I chose not to. These choices are numerous throughout this mode and it really gives you the opportunity to shape both your player as a person and as a baseball player. It’s one of the best career modes I’ve ever played and I really liked that you were very much in control of everything going on.
Franchise Mode introduces Critical Situations this year. While simulating through a game, if something big happens, the game will stop and allow you to play out the situation. You have the opportunity to close out games, hit a walk-off in extra innings, finish a complete game, and much more. It’s a nice addition, but not something that truly adds a whole lot to the mode. It’s basically the same Franchise you know and love. That’s not a bad thing as it’s one of the best modes out there.
Diamond Dynasty promises to add new timed events with entry requirements. The is similar to what the NHL series has done in their Ultimate Team Mode. It allows you to utilize some cards that you wouldn’t typically put in your lineup. There are lots of new ways to earn XP and currency in the game and Franchise Mode even had its own ladder of ways to earn stuff in DD. It’s quite a bit to take in if you’re at all new to the series. Conquest Mode is still around and it’s the exact same. Nothing to really say there.
Retro Mode is the newest mode to grace MLB The Show 17. It has all the old-school charm of the 16-bit baseball games with the animations and players of the current-gen offering. It didn’t really appeal very much to me. None of these retro modes do. It’s impossible to really capture what made that era of sports games so great. It was a nice attempt here, but it’s not something I’ll be going back to. I would rather the focus be on moving forward, not backward.
MLB The Show 17 builds upon last year’s solid game to create another amazing baseball simulation. The MLB Network integration, new animations, and narrative style Road to the Show add a lot to the already solid foundation. If you’re a baseball or sports fan, you won’t be disappointed with MLB The Show 17. I recommend it to everyone!
*This game was provided to FYIG by PlayStation for review purposes*