MLB The Show 21 Review (PS5)
MLB The Show has had an incredible streak of consistently being one of the top hailed sports video games every single year over the last 15 years, this year’s installment continues to show why that remains true today. Some games find their formula they think works and then simply create visual enhancements or little tweaks here and there. But The Show keeps trying new things and improving on those that fans already love to begin with.
This year also marks a drastic change in that the game is no longer a PlayStation exclusive and will be available on both Sony and Microsoft consoles for the first time in history.
Now, to be completely forthright with everything here, I am not the strongest sports gamer. I have a hard time with a lot of the controls on the more advanced games, I’m an old-school kind of guy and just want to press the buttons and a direction. I don’t enjoy the flick the joystick to swing or shoot kind of gameplay. The Show has TONS of different control schemes for every single aspect of the game, which made me smile right off the bat. I was able to test and find what felt the most comfortable for me to pitch, field, hit, and even catch. Which felt very comforting and welcoming as a gamer. Once I was able to nail down what felt best for me I rushed over to the fan-favorite Road to The Show mode. I created my character who was a much more in shape version of myself. There is so much stuff to unlock for your player such as bats, shoes, hats, gloves, which keep you invested in the gameplay loop and wanting to open more and more packs. My player naturally was equipped with a blue baseball bat adorned with donuts….why? Well because why not?
The Road to the Show for the first time allows you to be a two-way player (Pitcher and Fielder) which lets you enjoy a more diverse experience if you want it. You still have the option to be either or if so desired. I find the two-way options a fresh way to not get fatigued by just doing the same thing over and over again. Now that this is becoming a reality in the MLB as well, I found it to be a welcomed addition to this year’s game. Other than that, that’s about all the changes to this specific mode which was great, to begin with of course.
The visuals on this game are absolutely breathtaking, it largely looks almost real. My wife even walked into the room and from a distance thought I was just watching a baseball game before seeing the controller in my hand. The lighting effects, the movement of the players, their clothing, it’s all so incredibly well done. Even the level of detail in the crowds I found to be enjoyable as every character was different and moved differently as well. There wasn’t the typical gaming trick of cutting and pasting the same person through the crowd. I was playing one game and we had reached the 8th inning and I was on a hot streak and currently pitching a no-hitter. The crowd continually got more and more excited with every pitch, as some people would rise to their feet, some waving their arms to get the crowd into it, so on and so forth. The game really does a remarkable job of recreating that stadium feel. Speaking of which another cool feature is the stadium creator mode which allows you to create your own field to play in, which also boasts a ton of features and fun in itself.
In between games and segments, there is in-person pre-recorded commentary from former players, commentators, and podcasters to help along with the narrative of Road to the Show. This was something cool to see as they are recorded with different visual and audio quality much like what you would see on the new and SportsCenter today. Folks talking about the love of the game and the hot news from their home office or living room. Something that will remain in digital format for years to come as a moment of time in a COVID world.
There is still so much to do and touch on in MLB the Show but it can be best summarized as saying this: Visually it is one of the best looking games I have EVER seen, such detail, such performance I had no issues or hang-ups with the game at all. If you are a fan of baseball this is a MUST purchase game (or if you are on Xbox at least play it on gamepass on April 20th). Do not be afraid of how complicated sports games can be, this one is fully customizable and a TON of fun for newcomers and experienced players alike. Go on and enjoy the parks and crowds (cause you can’t in real life) and on the plus side….the games are NOWHERE near as long as real life.