Baseball is the one sport I truly care about. I “follow” my favorite football team, the Carolina Panthers and will watch them if they’re on TV. Since that doesn’t happen often in Oklahoma I just check the scores the next day. I pay attention to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA. I don’t watch hockey. Baseball, however, I truly love. I grew up playing the sport. I knew everything there was to know about baseball back in the 80’s, 90’s and into the 2000’s. I lived that sport. Now, I watch it on TV, attend games for the local minor league club and if I’m in Kansas City at the right time I’ll take my wife to a Royals game. I love it.
That being said I just recently picked up a copy of Sony’s MLB The Show 16 on a PSN sale. I’m hooked on this game. I can’t stop playing it. The Road to the Show mode is probably the best way to play a baseball game, because let’s be perfectly honest, how many people with jobs and families have the time to sit down and play 162 full length baseball games for a season? Not many. The Road to the Show mode allows you to create a prospect and play them from college age through a full major league career in a few hours (relatively speaking). You create your player and in game you only play the moments where you’re actively participating in the play. That means you’ll take every at bat and you’ll get fielding opportunities. As a catcher I play when there are opportunities for opponents to steal bases or in high profile moments of the game. That’s it. You can complete a full baseball game in 5-10 minutes on average. It’s great. It keeps you involved constantly in the action. Right now I’m playing for the Tulsa Drillers waiting for the call up to the “show”. In this case I’d be called up to play for the Dodgers. They’re not my first choice as I’m a Colorado Rockies fan, but I really wanted the opportunity to play for my local team so I chose to be drafted by the Dodgers.
There are plenty of other modes to play. You’ve got online play. You’ve got exhibitions and season play. You’ve got home run derby and other short modes of play. The bulk of your time will be spent in the Road to the Show and that mode is just simply a fantastic way to play a baseball game.
I also want to point out the visuals as this game is simply beautiful. The developers have put an emphasis on situational lighting and it really shows. Afternoon games are bright and vibrant. Shadows cast are deep and defined. As the sun goes down the lighting cools. You get those deep afternoon colors. You’ll see the shadow moving across the baseball field as the sun goes down. Once nighttime falls and you’re playing under the lights the game takes on a whole new feel. It feels like night.
Custom sliders allow you to create an experience that is perfect for your level of play. I currently have Dynamic difficulty turned on and the game has settled itself into a nice groove for me. Pitchers put a lot of movement on the ball. I have to really pay attention to where the ball is in relation to the strike zone. I’m not just getting served up fastballs down the middle. I can walk. I can strikeout. I can hit monster home runs, but I’m not a baseball god. You’ll see the difficulty moving up and down as you play and you’ll be notified any time it changes. The game learns from the way to play and creates a difficulty level that will keep you interested in the game. You won’t get frustrated because you strike out every time, but you’re not on base 75% of the time either. It finds that perfect balance and that’s not something that’s been easy to do in sports games.
MLB 16 The Show has probably sky rocketed to the top of my list of all-time favorite sports games because it’s just a great blend of simulation and strategy. I feel like a really good baseball player, but I’m not the best player on the field and that’s how these games should play.