Being a huge baseball fan since I was a kid, baseball video games were a steady diet for me until around 2012, when I graduated college. A lot of the games were the same and for $60 a pop, it is hard to justify grabbing a sports game every year, just to get the most current rosters. So this year, I decided I needed a break from my RPGs and shooters, just to have a mindless, yet fun game to play and that happened to be MLB The Show 18. A Sony exclusive, The Show has been the gold standard for baseball games for many years now and has been on the up and up every year when it comes to popular sports games. Madden and Fifa still take the cake but, The Show has cemented its place in sports game history as the most successful baseball franchise (not my favorite, looking at you 2005 MVP Baseball). Coming in fresh from not playing a baseball game for the past 5 years, I had high expectations.
Being from Boston, I am a serious Red Sox fan. Fenway Park is one of the most historic stadiums in the history of sports kingdoms, so it was natural for me to choose my beloved Red Sox as my favorite team when first prompted to as MLB The Show 18 loads. The initial load screen is easy to follow, with images from this year’s roster that you choose, so in my case Mookie Betts and Chris Sale dominated the home screen. Some of the modes that stick out are The Road to The Show and Diamond Dynasty. The other modes are pretty similar to every other sports game. You get a franchise mode, an exhibition mode and some other basic modes within MLB The Show 18 but the one I was most interested in was The Road.
Just to get some of the mechanics out of the way, I played a quick exhibition game to figure out controls. The game prompted me to try a couple of different methods for hitting, pitching, fielding and more, as they have different choices for those actions. It was pretty cool because they gave you a chance to try them out before choosing, which is helpful because sometimes you just don’t know what you might pick.
MLB The Show 18 looks amazing, some of the graphics just dazzling. The players look pretty realistic and the ballparks are pretty spot on for what their real life counterparts look like. Some of the graphics I noticed that were above and beyond were that the jersey numbers reflected in the sun and when you slide, the dirt goes on your uniform in the spots you slid, which is a nice touch. Sports games look amazing on a huge TV with 4K and The Show shines in this opportunity.
Mechanics wise, MLB The Show 18 is the most fluid baseball game I have played. Between pitching, which feels quick and challenging, and hitting, which is challenging but not impossible at all, I think The Show has found balance. The only thing I still hate about all baseball games and this one is included, is the base running. I feel like when I get on base, it is tough to control the runner in a way that I would want and I always end up doing the wrong thing, even after hours of play. I don’t know if it’s just me but I like to try to get leads and steal but this game doesn’t make it easy to control that. I don’t mind getting thrown out all the time because I am aggressive but I don’t like getting thrown out because I goofed on the buttons to push and the controls are kind of confusing.
The mode I spent most of my time playing so far is The Road To The Show. This mode allows you to make your own player and follow them through the ranks of AA, AAA and if you’re good enough, the MLB. What’s nice about this mode is that most things are customizable, including batting stance, home run celebrations, facial features, body type etc. I know this is standard these days but it does do a solid job at giving you choices. The other thing I like about this mode is that you are not a rising super star, getting drafted for glory. I was drafted in the 29th round and have been playing AA ball for over a season, even though I am hitting over .400 and have a bunch of home runs. This game makes you take the time to develop your character and allows you to play a bunch of minor league games to do it. The leveling up system is pretty solid, when you perform well in the field and at the plate, it rewards you with some minor upgrades to your attributes. If you don’t do well, it will take some points off. I have played the most of this because it is so fast paced. You can play 3-4 games in ten minutes because it only lets you play when your player is actively involved on the field, meaning a ball is hit to/near you or your batting/on base. It allows for you to crank through 50-60 games in a couple of hours which is refreshing.
My main complaint about this game so far is the online servers. I have tried to play a couple of online games and have been hit with major lag and/or kicked out. I have also had issues with connecting to the servers and getting the rewards I should be getting. When you turn off your PS4 and turn it back on, it disconnects you from servers and doesn’t automatically connect you back, which becomes an issue. People can play for a couple of hours, not realizing and not get any rewards for good game play. Kind of frustrating and potentially game breaking for people who pay for content besides the game.
MLB The Show is great. It is a good sports game with good graphics and good gameplay. Just good, not bad, not amazing. It could have some better features, such as build your own stadium or a constantly working online experience but even so, this is a solid game. I would say if you are looking for a really polished baseball game, with high replayability, The Show is for you. If you are looking for something that is completely different from games before it, this game will not wow you. I personally have been enjoying this year’s edition because I haven’t bought a baseball game in years, but if you have MLB The Show 17, there is not much new for you to check out. With the MLB season kicking off, this game has gotten me pumped to watch baseball again, all while giving me a chance to pour hours and hours into a fun, baseball game. MLB The Show 18 is out now for PlayStation 4.