After repeated years of lackluster releases MLB The Show 17 brings us some much needed improvements and additions.
Springtime is baseball season, and that means it’s time for a new version of MLB The Show. After fully jumping on board “The Show” train roughly 3 releases ago, I can finally say MLB The Show 17 lives up to long overdue expectations from its many fans. If you are unfamiliar with this Sony PlayStation exclusive, MLB The Show is a not just any sports game. With features like Road to the Show and Diamond Dynasty, The Show 17 allows players to enjoy everything baseball has to offer, outside of going to or playing in a real game.
The most recent release of the game has various visual and mechanical updates and even a throwback with a new “Retro Mode.” Ken Griffey Jr. or “The Kid” as most baseball fans know him, dawns the cover of this version of the franchise. If you’re like me and you remember games like “Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball” or “Ken Griffey Jr.’s Slugfest,” then the choice to put The Kid on the cover of this game was a smart marketing move.
Several improvements can be seen in The Show 17. Typical player wants such as more realism and attention to detail are nice, but I was more interested in the mechanics. Due to my brothers being baseball players and father-in-law being a coach, I have learned way more about baseball than most people, outside of coaches and professionals, would ever want to know. Baseball is a complicated and challenging sport. I would go as far as to argue that it is the most challenging professional sport currently being played.
With that in mind, creating a game that can closely emulate baseball has been a struggle year after year. We have been given newer, more powerful consoles and developers have been pushing the abilities of what can be accomplished in games. This has allowed to The Show to be prettier, but it still struggled with lackluster AI and player abilities.
That all changes with The Show 17. The new AI system brings long awaited fixes that give the game more human elements. This brings tweaks to nearly every element of gameplay. One of the biggest improvements is honestly just hitting the baseball. Previous games lacked any type of true ball spin. This has a major effect on the realism factor. By adding in and calculating the true rotation of the ball spin upon being hit, the ball acts more like how it would in a real game. This, along with the much-improved AI system, make for a fun and less rigid baseball game.
The new AI system brings long awaited changes that give the game more human-like player elements.
Road to the Show has not changed much since its first iteration nearly 10 years ago, but with the most current release it has seen a much-needed upgrade. Road to the Show is a single player game mode which allows the player to create their own baseball star with full control of the positioning and appearance of the athlete. For people like me, this has been my favorite part of the game itself. It’s almost like living out a dream of becoming a professional baseball player… if that would have ever been a dream of someone who has only played organized baseball one time and that one time was last summer, in a summer adult league.
This game mode has been updated (finally) and now includes a documentary feature that has a narrator, and lets the player select answers in response to certain interactions between you and a coach, agent, or advisor. The other big change to RTTS is that your secondary player position actually has a much bigger impact on what you can do in the Minor Leagues. While you are in the Minor Leagues, the coach may move you to that secondary position to see how you are able to perform. This can last for around 10 games, and you’re able bounce back and forth to two positions.
So, if you are struggling with the first position you chose and feel like you are never going to get out of the Minors, the secondary position has the ability to come in handy. Plus, based on the roster situation at the Major League club, you may have a quicker route up in that secondary position. Overall, some things are never going to change in Road to the Show, but I am glad these pieces were added in. It gives the experience a more realistic approach.
Retro Mode is an incredibly fun game mode for everyone.
Retro Mode is new to The Show 17 but, it should not be overlooked. This mode has been one of major interest. A throwback to old RBI Baseball, Retro Mode takes a retro approach and brings it to The Show. This mode allows you to play with easy to use controls and retro graphics. A game mode that nearly anyone can pick up and enjoy. I would consider this the all-ages play mode. It’s a great edition and truly a lot of fun, and is one feature I hope they keep in future releases.
The Franchise mode truly did not change much from previous versions. It again tends to lead you to simulate games or even full seasons, and take more of an Owner or General Manager point of view. I can honestly say I was in no hurry to load this game mode up. Playing the game takes far too long, since this mode is focused on a Franchise and not just an individual player. It’s not been worth my time.
Diamond Dynasty is back from The Show 16, and there are some minor tweaks and additions. There are a lot of factors to DD, and for those who enjoy Franchise, Diamond Dynasty is another alternative mode that is more about simulating games and progressing based on what you can accomplish with an organization.
Overall, MLB The Show 17 is a consistently great sports game, but this year we see much-needed gameplay improvements, along with some graphical tweaks and even some nice throwbacks mixed in. This allows me to feel comfortable telling anyone and everyone to buy The Show 17. I haven’t truly been able to do that with the previous two releases. If you’ve never played The Show, this is a great year to give it a go. If you’re a seasoned player like myself, go ahead and pick up a copy while the baseball season is young.