Review: MLB 10 The Show (PS3)

MLB10

Title: MLB 10 The Show
Release Date: March 2, 2010
Platform: PS3 (also on PS2 and PSP)

Let’s be honest, at its core, this is is the same game that you’ve been playing for the last 2 years, but with a lot more polish and features. This is a good thing! Besides the addition of many more correct batting stances and more correct details in the stadiums, Road to the Show has been tweaked like crazy, and they even brought back the Home Run Derby mode. There are so many tiny inclusions, fixes, and additions that I’d never be able to list them all, but what I’ve seen after playing this for a few days is an incredibly polished version of a game that many truly love to play.

Visuals
Word was that the development team was trying to get all new player models into the game this year, but they ran out of time. Instead they’ve added a ton of nuances in the lighting engine, cleaner shadows, and over 200 new animations. One thing that has always set “The Show” apart from other sports games wasn’t just the animation itself, but the smooth transitions between those animations. This year it’s still not “perfect,” but it’s about as close as you could expect. It’s even more evident when you view a replay in The Show’s “Show-Motion” super slo-mo camera. Even nicer (and totally cosmetic,) is the team’s attempts at making the presentation even more realistic by actually having players not walk through each other. Now, when a batter walks near someone else, they’ll actually move out of the way before continuing on. It may not sound like a big deal, but it blurs the line just that much more between videogame and real broadcast.

One detail that immediately caught my eye is the uniforms. Vinyl lettering reflects light correctly, and if they’re actually stitched-on, they are raised off of the surface of the jersey correctly. Also, the uniforms don’t seem to be just a hard casing around the character, as you’ll actually see the cloth stretch during movement in a very realistic fashion. You’ll still see a lot of the other visual glitz as in previous years, but they’ve definitely included a lot more on top of what was there. The animated tomahawk on top of the Braves scoreboard now lights and animates, the outfield scoreboards in left field at Miller Park now represent the changes made in the real stadium, and even fireworks for a Home Run at “The Cell” in Chicago partnered with quite the light show on the humongous scoreboard. The field itself even seems to be affected more by wear and tear this year, and the effect in the batters-box is more realized as well. Transitions between animations is smoother, and the even seems to have more variety than last year (you’ll still see “twins” but they may be farther apart now.) Many people may think that MLB 10 looks a lot like 09, but if you put them side-by-side the differences are quite noticeable and plentiful.

Online
It works! Well, most of the time. You’re still at the mercy of your opponent’s Internet connection, but online does work, even when your PS3 is wireless. I played against the same opponent twice, once when my PS3 was wireless, and once when it was wired. Both games played very well, but the differences were pretty obvious. In wireless (which coincidentally wouldn’t even work last year,) I noticed more “hitching,” and the timing still seemed to be off by a bit. When I plugged my PS3 in to the switch though, it ran very well. We had a couple of momentary pauses, but seriously, the online experience was very close to being on the same tv. Another cool feature is when you use an external keyboard. Doing so allows you to text-chat to people that don’t have a mic, and you don’t have to hit any buttons or even pause the game to use it, just type and it slides-in from the bottom of the screen. No one that I played online had a mic yet, so I cannot comment on voice chat quality etc.

Online leagues aren’t available yet (about 10 days to go,) so I can’t really speak to any of those functions yet. Since their online tech is all peer-to-peer though, it should never matter “how many people are on the servers,” as once the session is established between the 2 people, the servers are completely out of the mix. This is great to know since if Online was working a few days before the game hit, it’ll work the same no matter what. I’m not saying that Online is perfect, but it’s gotten a serious upgrade and is such a welcome change!

Audio
I’m a sucker for Matt Vasgersian. He used to be the announcer for the Milwaukee Brewers tv broadcasts, so I love hearing his voice in MLB 10. They’ve definitely added more variety to the phrases this year, but you’ll still get a repeat here-and there. The ambient stadium sounds have seemingly been improved as well, as I’m noticing a lot more sound field separation this time around. The crowd definitely reacts better to whatever the situation is in the game too. I’ve had more than a few nail biters already, and the experience was incredibly heightened by the aural elements in those situations.

As in 09, but expanded quite a bit this year, the ability to load a custom soundtrack is easy to use. But what you can also do with the music is one big item that sets this game apart from anything else in sports titles. Using your regular voice chat mic, you can record taunts or cheers for any player. You can also set certain songs to play when a Home Run occurs, or even set a portion of a song as your Walk-Up Music. The options have expanded a lot in those areas, and so far I’ve only scratched the surface of what’s available.

Road to the Show (RttS)
The strongest feature of this series is Road to the Show, where you create a player, start in AA, and play through his entire career as you scrape your way to the Majors (The Show.) There are many new tweaks this year, and so far all are welcome changes. They’ve doubled the amount of Minor League stadiums, a couple of which I really love playing in. Trade logic seems better so far, but definitely not perfect. One major difference, because of the 5GB install this year, load times are much nicer! It’s not instant by any means, but I would almost say they cut the load time down to almost half of what it was. This is huge in RttS, especially when all you’re doing is pinch-hitting late in a game. It was also nice to see that a bunch of training points were available right out of the gates, which gave me the opportunity to beef-up in certain areas right away. Also, the handling of Goals has definitely improved. I had an instance where the goal was to hit the runner in from 2nd. I hit a great liner through the infield that advanced the runner to 3rd, but he held-up there. Instead of, like last year, seeing “Goal Failed” I actually got a “Positive result” instead. This is huge!

Creating your player can be as easy or as hard as you want it to be. There are many more options than last year, including 2-tone bats and even allowing you to set a different color for the laces in your fielding glove. Much of this can also be changed after the fact, which is great since sometimes things may look good when you’re creating him, but once you see him in action, yeahhhhh things are gonna need a change.

Other Stuff
So, a few items that I wanted to make sure to mention. The Replay Vault makes a triumphant return this year, complete with the to record and save any of the videos to the XMB, which can also be done with the Highlight Reel at the end of the game. You can gran the video file from your PS3 with a USB drive, and upload it to your favorite video site like Youtube or Viddler. I really would have liked to see a better framerate in the videos though, so I’m hoping that’s something that they could patch.

Also, pretty-much at any time you can go to the Photo section in the XMB, and choose “Save Screenshot.” This will take you back to the game, and when you see a screenshot that you want, simply hit the “X” button, and the HD photo is saved to your XMB. The photo can be grabbed on a USB drive and used anywhere, and the quality is very good. In fact, all of the screenshots you’ve seen on this site were made via this functionality 🙂

The new ability to call the game as a catcher works very well. Even if you haven’t set your player up as a catcher in RttS, you’ll probably get to play this mode anyway. In AA, you’ll be brought-in to pinch-hit for a catcher eventually, and the Manager usually leaves you in as the catcher. The interface is very streamlined, and it’s actually pretty cool to lay the game this way. Just remember, it’s pretty time-consuming though. You’re not going to burn through games like you would as an outfielder.

The addition of six “Classic” parks is also very welcome, but at review time, they aren’t available to unlock yet (I’m nowhere close to having a Platinum, and it’s not available as a store unlock yet.) The Classics available are Forbes Field, Crosley Field, Polo Grouds, Shibe Park, Sportsman Park, and Griffith Stadium. Along with those, two other “old” venues are available right away, the Metrodome and Shea Stadium, both of which have been replaced this year. It sounds silly, but I really do hope this becomes a trend, as I’d love to see Milwaukee County Stadium included some day. It wasn’t much to look at, but it still had a lot of charm. Plus, that’s where they filmed a majority of “Major League,” and some games in the ’82 World Series were played there as well.

I’m sure that I’m still missing some elements of what’s included. I’m actually looking at a 4-page synopsis of improvements and features, which is a good indicator that this isn’t just a “roster update.” SCEA San Diego have done a fantastic job this year. Yes, there still are a couple of bugs and there are a couple of elements that could still use tweaking. But, they’ve made great strides this year, and they’ve definitely still given us the best representation of the game of Baseball on any videogame platform. You may find yourself using the sliders to adjust the experience to your liking, and that’s one element that really makes this title a great one, the fact that you can make this game your own and play it the way that you want to. I’ll be looking for you online this year, so be ready to bring it!

Score:
8.5

Written by Glenn Percival

Glenn Percival

Just a guy that loves games, movies, Golf, Football, and Baseball.

Podcast Co-Host, Editor-in-Chief, Video Producer, and whipping-boy

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  • sebastiandes0

    This damn game will be graded B cause they not release it in europe! DAMN SCEA ^^ Nah. im jokin'. Nice review 🙂

  • madeup6

    Great review. Even better now that the new site's up 🙂

  • madeup6

    Great review. Even better now that the new site's up 🙂