MLB The Show 18 Review
MLB The Show 18 is breaking any major new ground in their year-to-year baseball outing, but does slightly build on The Show 17 in enough ways to make picking up the latest iteration money well spent. While the new features brought into the game are mostly cosmetic, upping the games presentation, they do add value that will be important for those who likely pick up each iteration anyways. Those looking for a few causal rounds of baseball can probably pass on this years installment, but be warned: you’ll miss out on one of the most realistic baseball experiences ever released on console.
Things Remain the Same
For the most part, the game mode options in MLB The Show 18 are identical to it’s predecessor, allowing you to square off in head-to-head matchups, take on one of the MLB’s many franchises, attempt to make the big leagues as a minor leaguer, and of course collecting cards to build your own, fantasy team. These modes have had minor changes to them, the biggest being in Road to the Show.
Road to the Show gets the biggest change, making the gameplay feel more realistic and fluid, although removing the options to be strategic. In past MLB experiences, Road to the Show allowed you to improve your player by spending experience points on certain aspects of your players game. If you wanted to be a power hitter, you could focus on that, or if you wanted to emphasize your defense play, then that could be prioritized too. This all changes in the 2018 version of The Show. Instead of spending experience, players level up organically based on their on-field play. If you bat over .400 with a Home Run, watch your batting attributes rise. Strike out on 3 of 4, and watch your rating fall. Everything is tied to your ability to play baseball well.
There are positives and negatives to this approach. For experienced MLB players, this change might be welcomed, as it adds an extra layer of challenge. To those who may struggle with the ins and outs of The Show, not being able to prioritize weak areas of a players game with XP could hamper their ability to make it far in Road to the Show. While there are trade offs for this new approach, I think it ultimately is the better game play mechanic decision.
Diamond Dynasty and Franchise Mode play a lot like last years iterations, although there seem to be a few minor tweaks in how you obtain rewards and cards in Diamond Dynasty. Franchise Mode, on the other hand, is starting to feel a bit dated and could you a refresh when next years game launches. Other sports games are doing much more with their Franchise Modes, and there is no reason why MLB The Show is lagging so far behind.
The first of two major changes to MLB The Show 18 is how the game is presented to you. Regardless of what mode you play in, the presentation in this release is rivaled by no one. With newly added colour commentator, Mark Derosa, sitting alongside Matt Vasgersian and Dan Plesac, the way you play MLB The Show is better than ever. Improved stadium visuals – including new crowd animations and fantastic camera angles – makes you feel like you are watching your favourite team on TV. For a video game, that is a pretty impressive feat.
The commentary team has recorded hundreds of relevant quips about teams, players, and situations – stats in the previous year, etc. – and are more apt this year – than in past years – to talk about specific players as they head ot the mound, or step up to the plate. After dozens of hours of in-game ball, you may start to notice some repetition in terms of player stats and situational commentary, but overall, it is a breath of fresh air that only adds to the overall presentation of each and every ball game.
New animations have also been added to the players, providing more of a unique presentation for some of the games biggest athletes. The game even allows you to create custom batting stances that are preferable to you, which is great when creating your own, unique character for Road to the Show.
Almost everything about how the game of baseball unfolds has been implemented in MLB The Show 18. New hitting physics, fielding physics, and ball physics are making the on-field play more realistic than ever before, taking into account players strengths and weaknesses, and even their personal on field decisions. Everything feels more accurate, and swinging at the ball has never been so satisfying. While it can incredibly frustrating when you ground out over and over again, it’s exhilarating when you hit that authentic feeling home run. When it comes to making the ball games feel more alive and real, the developers have knocked it out of the park, pun intended!
Online issues early on have plagued this release a bit, limiting my ability to play the game with others. That being said, there is a lot I’ve enjoyed in single player mode with MLB The Show 18. While I wish some of the modes had received some significant upgrades, the main thing in this iteration is that the on-field presentation is better than ever. Ultimately, this is what we should want the most from a Major League Baseball title.
***We received PS4 code from the publisher for purposes of review.***