Review: MLB The Show 16 (PS4)

2016 Golden Minecart Awards:

  • Best Sports Game (PS4)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PlayStation 3

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
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Title: MLB The Show 16
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (48.7 GB)
Release Date: March 29, 2016
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: SCE San Diego Studio
Original MSRP:

ESRB Rating: E
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 468 of the podcast at 142:40.

With my recent move to Milwaukee, I’m mere minutes away from Miller Park now and even though the Brewers are in yet another rebuilding year, my excitement for the new Baseball season is higher than it’s been for a long time. As always, when the new Baseball season is ready to begin that also means that the new MLB The Show will grace my PlayStation 4, and they did not skimp on the updates this year.

Gameplay:
Since the servers are not up yet, I haven’t been able to try modes like Diamond Dynasty, Conquest, Online Franchise, or actual online multiplayer. So I’ll instead focus on the modes that I’ve been able to play so far: Quick Play, Home Run Derby, Season, and Road to the Show (RttS).

Quick Play is just that, an easy way to get into a game and play by yourself or with up to three friends. You’ll have a ton of options at your disposal such as your pick of teams, stadium (including some classics that don’t exist any more), time of day, weather, and cloud cover.

The final option, and certainly the biggest addition for this year, is the ability to have a retractable roof open or closed if you’re playing in one of those parks. Quick Play is a great way to check any changes that you may have heard about, or to simply get a quick game going with some of your friends when they stop over.

MLB(R) The Show(TM) 16

Season is a mode that I always love getting into, and like in RttS, you can transfer your season from MLB 15 The Show very easily, which I did this year. I haven’t really seen any major changes in Season mode and really, I don’t think that I was expecting any.

I normally don’t deal with team management anyway and I haven’t had a chance to see if anything has been changed in that respect. I’ve always loved playing through a season with my favorite sports team and that’s been one of my bigger complaints with the Madden series as of late. They force you into a lot more of the team management aspects of it and that’s just not something that I’m interested in. I want to play Baseball, not a Manager Simulator.

Home Run Derby is what you’d expect and it adheres to the new rules applied to the actual event. You’re able to adjust the amount of players in the competition, which ones are controlled by a human and which are CPU, length of time per player, and which park you’ll compete in.

This is actually the mode that I’ve been using to check out the six classic parks and it’s a fun way to play a quick match against your buddies when they’re over. You’ve also got the option to play offline or online, but since the servers aren’t up yet, I can’t try online yet.

MLB(R) The Show(TM) 16

As usual, I’ve spent most of my time in The Show playing Road to the Show, probably around twenty hours at the time I’m writing this. There have been some impressive improvements this year and more than a couple of adjustments.

Most are definitely for the better, but a couple of items have actually become an annoyance to me. I’m still researching if there’s a way to fix them within the options or if maybe I’m just reading into some of these things incorrectly.

Let’s cover my complaints first. This year, instead of transferring my player from 15, I created a new one. The process offers even more options than before and you can really spend as much time as you want getting everything the way you want it.

When you first start out, you’ll be given four major categories to assign some initial attribute points to: batting, running, fielding etc. As I always do, I focus more on hitting and running, and far less on fielding, and that’s why I always choose Right Field for my primary position. This is the way that I’ve done it for years, but with 16 it really affected my abilities more than ever before.

MLB(R) The Show(TM) 16

To say that in AA and AAA I dropped an obscene amount of balls in Right Field would be fair, and this isn’t just when I was on the run. It would even happen while I was camped under a textbook fly ball. The reason behind this is the fact that those initial attribute point assignments are weighted heavier than they have been in years past.

So expect to either spread those points more evenly at the start, or be ready to work through your deficiencies in AA and AAA. Also, since we’re talking about fielding, the default camera in the outfield has changed, starting lower than it has in the past. This is adversely affecting my ability to read where a fly ball is headed to. I’ve started to get used to it but I also want to mess with the settings a bit more to see if there’s a way to “fix” it.

My other complaint deals with the fact that I always pick the “some” option when it comes to how many times during a game that I’ll actually field. In past years I would usually have to field three to five times in a game on average, but in 16 I’m exceeding ten times per game.

What’s even more frustrating is that it seems there are more of these instances that result in an infielder getting a short pop fly, or a no-brainer Home Run that just wastes my time. The way that I approach RttS is to grind for hours at a time, and to get through season after season, ultimately getting through full careers for two or three players before the next game hits.

I still field though, because to me I feel like it’s “cheap” if I simply hit all the time – unless I’m in a DH role. But I don’t want to spend a ton of time in the field because the seasons are already long enough. I’m hoping that it’s simply some kind of algorithm that got messed up and can be easily fixed, but who really knows at this point right?

MLB(R) The Show(TM) 16

But let’s stop dwelling on the negative because there’s a lot more positive this year, especially with the moves they’ve made at saving you some time in key areas. First, and my favorite new feature, is the ability per series, to simply select “play next game” instead of having to go all of the way back to the menu to assign training points, check your league stats, and to choose to go to your next game.

Since the stadium and assets are already loaded, you’ll see a stats screen, get a chance to assign training points, and rush to your next game in seconds. Again, this is only available within a series but I have to say this is an incredibly welcome option, especially when you’re on a multi-hour grind. You’ll be surprised at how much time this can save you.

You’ve still got the option to transfer your player from MLB 15 The Show but if you choose to create a new one, which I did this year, you’re in for a treat. They’ve completely revamped the process with a strong amount of new options and more ways to give your player a unique “personality”.

You can literally spend hours if you so choose or you can just hit the randomize button and be on your way. Just about anything that you want to customize your player with is there, unless you want to be a woman. The menus themselves have been cleaned up quite a bit as well. Everything is easy to navigate, which helps a lot with this many options.

MLB(R) The Show(TM) 16

Also included this year is the “Showtime” system which is completely optional and can be toggled on and off in the game options. It’s a pretty unique system that allows you to create a dramatic moment in the game and to maybe help you in a crucial situation.

You’ll build a meter up and when the time is right you simply hold R2 to slow things down and improve your player’s focus. So, when hitting, it becomes easier to home-in on the incoming pitch. When you’re in the field you’ll have the chance to catch a crucial fly ball that may require a dangerous dive.

It’s not an “easy button” by any means though and it may take a few tries before it starts even making sense. Some might even feel that this makes the game “arcady”, but the fact that it’s very limited per game squashes that notion. Personally, I actually forget that it’s there so I really haven’t used it much, and so far, I haven’t even been very effective with it.

Visuals:
As many have pointed out during the numerous pre-release streams, the player models haven’t changed. I’m okay with that because there are a lot of upgrades elsewhere. First, there are even more unique spectators in the stands. You’ll still see some copies but I think that those instances will become almost obsolete within a couple of years.

MLB(R) The Show(TM) 16

Next, the new rain effects are fantastic! The way the the light actually reacts to the individual drops, and that there are unique sections in the falling rain, really gives it that realistic look. All of it even reacts to the camera in a 3D space while you run around the bases or play the field. It really does add to that immersion factor while you’re playing, and it’s nice to see that the team went that extra mile instead of defaulting to the generic “falling rain” effect.

The biggest change in the visuals this year is obviously the all new lighting system, Physically-Based Lighting (PBR), and it takes things to a whole new level. Now, every material and object in the game reacts to all light sources the way that their real-world counterparts would.

You’ll quickly see that this isn’t just some fancy marketing-speak either, especially when you play a game at dusk and the sun is just above the top edges of the stadium. It’s stunning really, and after thinking that the lighting engine was already great, it’s tough to imagine that it could be this much better.

MLB(R) The Show(TM) 16

The last addition that I want to bring up, especially since my favorite ballpark is Miller Park in Milwaukee, is that retractable roofs finally can be closed or opened. You won’t actually see the transition happen, but both versions of the affected parks have a completely separate lighting model.

So, instead of just cheating it, the new “Open” stadium model is actually lit correctly and it’s just beautiful to see. I know to many this may seem like a trivial thing, but the ever-forward attitude of the development team to make The Show as close as possible to real life is one of the reasons that this series is so beloved by so many.

Audio:
Probably the biggest point of contention with a lot of fans is the commentary while playing the game. Even though the team adds hundreds, if not more even, of lines of dialogue every year, you’ll still encounter lines that you’ve heard many times before. This has left many people constantly calling for it to all be revamped in some way.

So yes, you’ll still hear comments that your player’s hitting streak may be in the back of his mind, but I’m not sure what people expect when you’re playing through multiple seasons that have 162 games, plus pre and post seasons. There’s only so much dialogue that they can record. Yes, I agree that things can seem repetitive at times, but if it gets annoying you can turn the commentary off, per commentator even.

MLB(R) The Show(TM) 16

Now that we’re past that maybe you haven’t heard that Sounds of the Show has made its triumphant return! There are a few limits that the PS4 software force in terms of file type and filenames, MP3 only, but in terms of functionality it’s all there.

I also like the fact that in Road to the Show, and I’m not sure if this works in other modes, you can pipe the custom yells etc. to the speaker on the DualShock 4. It sounds really cool mixed with the rest of the audio happening around you. Obviously, if you play with headphones that’s not really a good option and you can turn that off in the game options.

Everything else that you’re used to is still here too including a very convincing crowd environment and those wonderfully recreated sounds of the game of Baseball itself. The new soundtrack is similar to last year in the tone that there’s nothing annoying so far, no boys choir etc. I usually turn the music off anyway, so it is what it is really.

Online/Multiplayer:
With the servers not available at the time of this writing, this aspect of the game was addressed later on the podcast in Episode 473 at 98:16.

MLB(R) The Show(TM) 16

Conclusion:
So far I’m very happy with the improvements all-around. The six classic stadiums that have returned bring a smile to my face and being able to go straight my next game in the series in RttS makes such a big difference when working my player through season after season.

The team definitely hasn’t been taking a break this past year and the huge amount of additions and changes proves that. Obviously, there’s a lot more to try out before I can properly review the entire package so look for this review to be updated and finalized a few days after the game comes out.

So far though, I’m very happy. The new lighting system really makes the differences in time feel more unique which in-turn adds so much more variety to playing through a long season of Baseball.

Score:

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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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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