It’s almost opening day for the MLB and that means the latest baseball game is upon us! Find out what we thought in our MLB The Show 19 Review!
|Release Date||March 26, 2019|
|Developer||SIE San Diego|
*A copy of this game was provided to FYIG by Sony Interactive Entertainment Canada for review purposes*
MLB The Show is consistently one of the hardest games for me to review year in and year out. The team at SIE San Diego always make so many improvements, but sometimes they’re not as notable or other features get taken away to make way for new ideas. That trend continues this year as MLB The Show 19 improves upon a lot of different but still misses out on a few key things.
Defensive gameplay has received a nice facelift in MLB The Show 19. You can now easily tell how good a fielder is by a simple colour-coded system. Gold indicates an elite fielder that you can rely on to make responsible plays. Gray and blue icons indicate that a player is more prone to errors and defensive liabilities. This extends to the way a fielder can read a ball off the wall. If you take control of an elite fielder, the exact path the ball will travel comes up on your screen. If you take control of a less-skilled fielder, the path is not as defined and sometimes incomplete. It’s a cool way to differentiate the players on your team and give you a bit more of an insight on how to field a ball.
The thing that I still get pretty annoyed with when fielding is how heavy the players feel when I’m moving them around the field. It’s not too bad when you’re just running in the outfield or infield, but anytime you get close to a ball it can be a crap shoot. It’s just not quite as fluid as I’d like it to be compared to other sports games out there like Madden or FIFA. I attribute this problem to the animation system which I’d like to be upgraded to a more physics-based system in the future. There are some new animations that seem to help with this issue this year as I recovered from some plays that would have resulted in an error a bit better than before, but the issue is still there.
Road to the Show is the mode that has seen the most significant improvements with it becoming more of an RPG experience with each passing year. Archetypes make their return this year, I picked the Anomaly which combines speed and power like Ken Griffey Jr. After you choose an archetype, you can pick a primary personality type and two subtypes out of four available. It seems weird to me to choose 3 out of 4. I feel like there should have been a few more. I chose the primary trait of Captain as I imagine most people probably do. This trait rewarded me for putting the team ahead of my individual goals. Perks are unlocked as you level up your personality and each one is connected to one of the four personalities. It adds yet another personal layer to your created player that wasn’t there last year.
Much like last year, every action leads to you building or losing points, but this year there are additional dynamic challenges that can boost your abilities even more. These challenges can be easy short-term challenges like driving in a run to long-term challenges like getting x number of hits over x number of games. It adds to the intensity of the game at certain points and gives you new opportunities to make your player better. You can even use some of the Perks you unlock to potentially help you with challenges depending on what they are as a way to kind of game the system.
There are also some new training mini-games in RTTS this year. These games can be anything from weight training, reaction time training, and even phone games. It’s yet another way to level up your character in a pretty unique way and continues in the RPG direction that every addition to this mode seems to be going on.
Franchise Mode has once again been overlooked for the most part after being a cornerstone of the series for many years, but there are a couple of minor improvements to contracts. Contracts now mimic real-life deals in both years and monetary value even though you’re still limited to 40-man rosters. You can also re-sign players to an extension in the middle of a deal now which allows for greater flexibility with your roster to lock up your important players on your terms.
Diamond Dynasty is back this year and includes a new tier of unlocks called the Signature Series. Conquest Mode returns with expanded maps and continues to be an enjoyable experience for me while Battle Royale Mode provides a bit of a different experience for those who are into that kind of thing. The great thing is that the XP Reward Path will reward those that aren’t going to get into DD too deeply and prefer to play other modes. I wish more games took this approach. With so many games and modes and so little time, many people could benefit from this.
The few other notable modes that return are Home Run Derby and Retro Mode and there’s also the new Moments which allow you to recreate or rewrite history.
The big new mode this year is called March to October and this one is for people who want a condensed, single-season experience by giving you control over pivotal moments during a season. You won’t be playing every game, but you’ll be playing a selection of important moments on your way to trying to win a championship. It basically replaces Season Mode which was removed last year. The mode starts out with a 2018 recap video of the team that you choose and then you’re dropped into the late innings of Opening Day 2019. You can lose or gain momentum depending on how well you do in the particular situation you’re dropped into. This affects how well your team plays in simulated games.
There are tons of situations to play through and it’s pretty nice to be able to go through a season so quickly, but there are still some downsides to this mode. It’s not nearly as complete as I’d like it to be. Momentum isn’t really a tangible thing that guarantees a win, it more feels like the outcomes are pretty random for simulated games and it doesn’t feel like you have very much direct control. It’s more of a story style season with most of the storylines for the games provided by the new in-game reporter, Heidi Watney. I think it’s a good alternative to the Franchise Mode that’s already available, but people who want a normal season simulation may be disappointed.
The presentation in MLB The Show 19 is as good as it has ever been with some of the best stat lines seen in a video game. It’s amazing how many little details come out as you play the game. It looks and sounds like you’re watching a television broadcast. The new camera angles really help with that by breaking up some of the monotony from previous years. New lines of commentary and the previously mentioned Heidi Watney help to pull the experience together and while they’re not perfect, it definitely helps immerse you in the full experience. The crowd and stadium atmosphere don’t hurt either.
|Presentation is fantastic||March to October is a mixed bag|
|New defensive gameplay refinements||Clunky player movement transitioning to an animation|
|RTTS is better than ever|