MLB 11 The Show
Posted 2 years ago By - Jay Acevedo
I don’t know if it’s because I miss the Montreal Expos or because the Blue Jays are simply unable to accomplish anything worth rooting for (I guess that Mets fans have it worse), one thing is certain: baseball has taken a hit in my sports interest list over the last two years. Heck, hockey managed to surpassed it last year (I may be Canadian but the NFL as well as NCAA pigskin/basketball are my Top 3). And to top it off, this year’s entry in Sony’s long-running baseball franchise isn’t as impressive as its predecessors. It’s still solid, but the “ohs” and “wows” from past editions are no longer there. No, this won’t be one of those negative ranting pieces about a yearly sport franchise growing long in the tooth. However, even though I’ve always had high esteem for “The Show” series, I get the odd feeling that somehow, someway, SCE San Diego may be losing some of its mojo...
I should probably say this right off the bat: MLB 11 is worth your money and - for the most part - is another solid accomplishment. The highly-detailed stadium renders paired with fluid and almost life-like player models continue the franchise’s reputation. Of course, these will have a much bigger effect if you’re a newcomer to the series. Show vets won’t see much change since last year. This year’s presentation did get a small improvement via the addition of new broadcast cameras and the ability to customize it to your own taste via a list of 30+ presets. Its not a huge feature, but it does add a little more to the whole experience. Unfortunately, commentary from Matt Vasgersian and Dave Campbell is old, uninspired and flat-out torpid. Eric Karros’ addition to the booth in replacement of Rex Hudler keeps it away from a complete failure. However, chemistry between the three announcers is completely absent, often leading to weird cut-offs and unbalanced conversations. I think its time to either hire new commentators or record new lines. Matter of fact, why not do both? At least you can turn it off...which I highly recommend at this point. The great environmental stadium sounds are actually worth shutting the commentary off for.
Still, my biggest qualm against MLB 11 (aside from the long load times despite the HDD install) resides in online play over Playstation Network. Why? Because it’s still broken. Three consecutive years...if not four. Unacceptable. And to add insult to injury, SCE San Diego expanded its online realm by bringing a new two-player online (also local) cooperative mode and improved online leagues. The random disconnections and enormous lag, especially in matchmaking, made me run away from the online portion of the game. Luckily, the offline offering is deep enough that I can play for two years without even thinking of going online. But that still doesn’t excuse it.
Luckily, MLB 11 packs a whole slew of tweaks and new features. Leading the way is a brand new analog control system, appearing after seeing its closest competitor (i.e the MLB 2K series) introduce it a few year ago. More engaging and challenging than the good old face buttons, this year’s “Pure Analog Control” provides total control on hitting, pitching and fielding by pulling back the right analog stick to engage the motion and push it forward for the follow-through. After a few innings, pitching and batting will become second nature. Actually, pitching will be the first thing you get to control first, then batting. Unfortunately, fielding isn’t as successful and will require more attention. On top of dealing with an uber-sensitive throw-strength gauge, the system takes into consideration the fielder’s throwing/accuracy rating. Don’t be surprised if your team starts racking an incessant number of errors.
Another addition to the mix are the ”weekly challenges”, which are basically a series of one-player point-based contests, with a shot at winning prizes. It would have been interesting to spend more time with this mode but unfortunately, Sony has to limit it to one try per week with the ability to purchase more “tries” via the Playstation Store. At that point, my interest level went downhill. While the Season and Franchise modes haven’t received any incremental updates aside from a few simulation tweaks, Road to the Show now offers MLB hopefuls new training sessions as well as a new (and much-welcomed) scoring/progression system. Other improvements include the addition of a fun and highly addictive Playstation Move-powered Home-Run derby mode as well as balks, fake throws and 3D viewing.
MLB 11 The Show is the best baseball game on the market and brings enough changes and additions to the franchise to make it worth your money and time. I’ll admit that everything may not be perfect in Show-Land, but the franchise is still far from hitting a brick wall. However, the “mojo” doesn’t quite feel the same as in previous entries in the franchise. If you’ve played them, everything here will feel so familiar presentation-wise that it won’t matter to you as much as it may have in years prior. The main added features this year - such as the analog control - is nice to have, but it’s still not at the level of quality as one would expect considering we’ve seen it in other franchises for some time now. I do look forward to seeing what we may get next year though. And hopefully it will include a fully functional online realm. That would be a good, don’t you think, Sony?
+ Solid presentation, visuals
+ PS Move Home Run Derby is addictive
+ Pure Analog Control System works well for pitching and batting...
- Online still broken
- Audio commentary is bland and excruciating
- Long loading times, especially in Road to the Show
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Release Date : 2011/03/08
System : PlayStation 3
Publisher : Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer : SCEA San Diego
Category : Sports
ESRB : E
7.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
8.0 / 10
8.7 / 10