MLB The Show 17 Review
I’m not a huge baseball fan to be sure, but ever since my local Toronto Blue Jays have decided to be good, I’ve paid more attention to them, and the sport, than ever before. With a slight appreciation for baseball – the lesser of the main sports in my opinion – I knew the next step was giving the ultimate baseball video game a go. With that, I jumped into MLB The Show 17 fully expecting to be in way over my head. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised.
It’s a Beginners Game!
Baseball is actually a fairly complex sport. When you aren’t in the field worrying about completing double plays and cutting off runner with a well timed throw, you are at the plate, palms sweating, as you attempt to hit a wackload of different pitch types. It’s all very daunting when you first get going, but thanks to some outstanding ‘tutorials’ and gradual difficulty increases, MLB The Show does a great job of catering to new players, while maintaining the accurate baseball experience for all players.
There are variety of different fielding options you can preset when you first load up MLB The Show; I like the modern controls were each base gets mapped to one of the 4 face buttons. Once a ball is hit, you can preset your throw by holding down the corresponding base button. Once you move your player into the path of the ball and pick it up – or catch it – the game will automatically throw to the base you preset. It’s a wonderful game play mechanic for new players, especially when you can just focus on throwing the player out at first base.
There are other fielding options as well, that become more difficult but ultimately make the game more realistic. For experienced players, it might be the added challenge necessary to make MLB The Show more difficult, but for a newbie like myself, I stayed with the modern controls throughout my reviewing experience. Having a variety of fielding options, however, makes MLB The Show 17 more accessible than ever before!
Gradual Bating Difficulty Increases
Bating can be one of the harder – and obviously much more fun – aspects of MLB The Show 17. For new baseball video game players, the impulse to swing at every pitch is very real, so doing your best to read the pitches as they leave the pitchers hand is more important than ever before. Even after a few dozen games, I still swing at pitches I should be ignoring; the difficulty curve here is very steep, but also very rewarding.
Making a good connection on a pitch is pretty difficult, and frustration can easily set in as you load up on strike outs and ground outs. However, MLB The Show does a good job of easing you into more difficult pitches and hitting situations. The game uses a gradual scale to increase difficulty depending on your bating proficiency. As you move through 5 beginner stages, two rookie stages, and so on, the difficult of each batting situation will increase or decrease base on your previous tries at the plate. Rattle off a bunch of hits and you’ll see the difficulty increase rapidly. Have a full bad 9 innings and you will see the difficulty drop fairly quickly.
Through a few dozen games, I’ve only managed to make it to veteran difficulty on bating, but I can safely say that this gradual hitting difficulty scale does not take away from the game play experience in the slightest.
Like with fielding, there are a number of bating presets that you can set up when the game launches; obviously, these can also all be managed and changed in the options menu. Each batting type will adhere to a specific audience. With tons of NHL 17 under my belt, I choose to go with the real right stick bating setup where a simple flip of the analog stick will determine which type of swing you attempt. It’s all very fluid and very easy to understand. Mastering it, however, will definitely take time.
Pitching made Easy
The easiest part of MLB The Show 17 was playing as the pitcher, which surprised me as I figured this would be one of the more difficult aspects. If you play on the easiest pitching preset, your pitches will be mapped to the face buttons and triggers, and the game will suggest you a pitch and a location for where you want the ball to go. Using a handy pre-pitch simulation, you can see the path the ball ‘might’ take, as well as whether you are looking at a strike or a ball (red versus blue).
I say might, because there is never a guarantee. Throw a few wild pitches, and your confidence in that pitch will severely diminish, decreasing your pitchers accuracy and potentially setting up your opponent for a big hit. Every pitcher has a go-to pitch that they throw very well, so loading up on those is always a good idea. Be careful how you select your pitches, however, because the AI in MLB The Show 17 is smart enough to pick up on your pitching tendencies and adjust their batting methods accordingly.
A Realistic Experience
MLB The Show 17 is more realistic than ever. Although there are few mechanical and graphical changes from The Show 16 to The Show 17, the development team has put a lot of work into putting more animations into the game and improving ball physics. This makes MLB The Show 17 a very life-like baseball experience. Although you might see specific animations enough to make you realize this isn’t the real deal, it’s night and day when compared to previous iterations of the franchise.
The ball movement in MLB The Show 17 has also been greatly improved. Slice to left and right field happen more often than ever before, which is a more accurate portrayal of real MLB baseball. These ball physics ultimately result in errors happening more frequently than ever before, but once again, this brings MLB The Show 17 in line with the real baseball experience.
MLB The Show is not just a game for hardcore enthusiasts. Even bandwagon baseball fans such as myself can easily and quickly pick up MLB The Show 17 and have a great time with it. My previous baseball video game experiences have always been of the arcade variety, so getting the opportunity to play a real simulation baseball game was more fun than I could have ever imagined. Although the average game takes 45 minutes to complete – although it can be done faster by only playing the key moments in a match (when players are in scoring positions, or at the bottom of innings with 2 outs) – the time always seems well spent.
Whether you play in franchise or season mode, or take a spin at the player campaign or card collecting mode, there is lots of content in MLB The Show 17.