MLB 09 The Show
Take me out to the ball game...
Posted 4 years ago By - Jay Acevedo
When I got my hands on MLB 08 The Show last year, I was amazed on so many levels. The gameplay improvements, the addition of new features, the high quality visuals and the incredible amount of detail...in other words, the game became the ultimate reference for baseball games. This year, Sony’s baseball franchise returns and the development team over at SCE San Diego made sure to solidify the experience and work on the little things that would make the franchise continue on its path for greatness.
...and once again, they did it.
MLB 09 The Show will offer players the ability to choose from various game modes available, including Quick Game, Exhibition, Franchise, Season, Manager Mode and Rivalry. Of course, the “Road to The Show” mode makes a triumphant return this year and while there are no drastic changes to it, except for the addition of a training session, Road to the Show 3.0 provides the same experience in terms of quality, addictiveness and longevity. Once you create your player, you’ll be able to either assign it to the franchise of your choice or enter a virtual draft and see which team you will land. Just like in last year’s version of the game, player customization is a deep and detailed experience. From there, the team manager will give you goals to complete that will have a direct impact on the number of experience points you will earn, which will be used to increase different skill areas that make your player become stronger, faster and closer to a shot to the Majors. To help you in your career development, performance analysis tools introduced last year like the Adaptive Pitching Intelligence, the Progressive Batting Performance and the Pitch Command System are now fully integrated into the game’s experience. Training mode is made of different sessions based around bating and base-running techniques that will help your virtual player increase their game performance and develop other necessary game skills that will make the difference between a Major League call-up and a 10 year career in the AAA league. The new training session can also be used as a sole practice mode as well. Without any doubt, “Road to the Show” is where you will find yourself spending most of your playing time.
Practice makes you better. The addition of a training mode is very welcomed.
In terms of other additions and changes, MLB 09 The Show features several that are noteworthy of mention. The development team added some features missing in the game’s Franchise mode last year, like 40-man rosters, salary arbitration, waiver transactions and late-season call-ups. The draft process has also received an overhaul with the inclusion of the Rule 5 draft and Free Agent compensation picks. The odd fielding system from last year is no longer present here as it was completely changed in favour of a more fluid and dynamic defensive system that finally lets you have a total control over your defensive movements no matter the situation. The pitching and batting mechanics have not received any changes simply because they worked so perfectly last year and didn’t warrant any dramatic tweaks.
Cool features like the Roster Vault, the in-game MLB Ticker, Online Player Cards, Enhanced MLB Sportscast, Leaderboards, League Creation and SCOUT or “SportsConnect Online User Tracking”, which allows users to save personalized game settings and use those settings to quickly find online opponents, are all making a return this year. A few new innovations like a live draft option, flexible schedules in online leagues and the SportsConnect Live mode, which lets players listen to audio of the games played by other players via the virtual game room or SportsConnect’s buddy list, can also be found.
MLB 09 The Show also has an online component. Sadly it isn’t at its best...once again. The same online hiccups were experienced on last year’s version and were never really fixed completely. Hopefully Sony San Diego will take some time to check it out and fix it as soon as possible because right now, your experience will be more frustrating than anything else. It’s a shame because you will want to take that same offline experience online and experience it with your friends but you can’t. In a game that has so much magnitude, a broken and poor online mode puts a big dark cloud over the franchise.
Graphics & Sounds
Just like last year’s version, MLB 09 The Show visuals are simply gorgeous and outstanding. The stadiums are accurately detailed and the atmosphere, especially with 5.1 surround sound, makes you feel like you’re at the ball park. The crowd is constantly doing something in the background and they also react to every offensive or defensive play your players do. Mascots can be seen doing their shenanigans and even the Jumbotrons do their own thing. The new dynamic lighting engine put in place sets the ambiance for some of the most beautiful set-ups. Uniforms will become dirty and the field will start to show the wear and tear from the game and even the weather will affect the field as time passes. Without the players, there’s simply no game and in MLB 09 The Show, they look extremely real as they’re rendered and animated in high detail. There are still a few pop-ups and texture rippings but they’re almost non-existent in comparison with MLB 08. If last year visuals were amazing, be prepared to feast your eyes once again this year. It is easily the best looking and most visually realistic sports game out.
Just like last year’s version, MLB 09 The Show visuals
are simply gorgeous and outstanding.
In terms of audio, the game delivers once more. Matt Vasgersian, Rex Hudler and Dave Campbell, who are certainly one of the best commentary teams in sports games, still handle the play-by-play commentary and it shines. The recorded lines don’t seem scripted and they fit smoothly into the gameplay. But what’s in for the environmental sounds? Well, if you played last year’s game you will soon find out that the winning recipe hasn’t been changed. Actually, it got one cool addition never before seen in a sports videogame yet. Last year, personal music could be added from the hard drive and use it to create a custom soundtrack for the game. Nothing new there you might say, right? Then how about a feature that gives you the ability to record your own voice and create your own custom chants or jeers? Yes, you can re-create the Simpsons episode in which Homer plays Softball by shouting: “Daaaaaa-Rrryyyllllllll”. Add to that the possibility to edit music from the game or your own personal beats to create specific audio files for when your batter is up, hits a home run or even put “Wild Thing” for your reliever Ricky Vaughn style.
Even if The Show franchise isn’t as popular as the Madden NFL franchise per say, Sony’s baseball offering keeps doing what every sport game developer should do: improving on the genuine gameplay and presentation rather than adding lots of unnecessary and ridiculous stuff. For 60$, you get the most complete and realistic baseball game on the market as of today. Trust me when I say that there’s a lot to see and experience in MLB 09 The Show. Now, if they can only fix their issues online once and for all…
For 60$, you get the most complete and realistic baseball game on the market as of today.
Without any doubt, MLB 09 The Show is a great improvement over last year’s version. Sony’s baseball franchise is setting its stronghold as the real deal in terms of baseball simulations as the gap between them and 2K keeps getting bigger year after year. While we haven’t got our hands on MLB 2K9 for review purposes yet, we can safely say that hardcore baseball fans can’t go wrong with this year’s version of The Show as it brings the refinement fans of the series were expecting after the technical achievement that was MLB 08 The Show.
+ Easy and efficient menu interface
+ Fielding improved, batting/pitching mechanics still very solid
+ Road to the Show mode has received a few changes. Very addictive mode
+ Custom music and chant recording are welcomed additions
+ Play-by-play commentary is stellar and feels natural
+ Stadium ambiance and the sense of realism is breathtaking
- Excessively and numerous loading times
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Release Date : 2009/03/03
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