Review: MLB The Show 20

Is this year's "MLB The Show" worth your time and money?

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Jack Freeman

Ken Griffy Jr. hits a home run for my San Jose Ducks in Diamond Dynasty

Jack Freeman, Managing/Sports Editor

Major League Baseball (MLB) and San Diego Studios teamed up once again this year to release their annual “MLB The Show” video game, “MLB The Show 20.” The game brings new additions like the new Perfect-Perfect hitting system and a new relocation feature for your franchise. 

First up, let’s tackle visuals. “The Show,” to put it simply, is a breathtaking game and has been since the jump to the seventh generation of consoles. The amount of detail put into ballparks, equipment, and players is unmatched in the sports gaming market. From moving signs like the one at Target Field in Minnesota to the Green Monster in Boston, the parks have been recreated with near perfection. Just to show the detail take a look at Oracle Park, home to the San Francisco Giants.

Jack Freeman
Oracle Park in MLB The Show 20
USATSI
Oracle park in Real Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last thing to add is in the menus, which look exactly the same from last year and the year before that. While this would be acceptable if San Diego Studios had mastered the main menu, they haven’t, considering the menu can be complicated to navigate or just slow. Especially in the complicated franchise mode, these slow menus can really bog down the experience.

Visuals get a nine out of ten. While the attention to detail is spectacular in the parks, the game struggles with player faces and menu design. “MLB The Show 20″ is a beautiful game overall and earns every bit of praise it gets.

On deck, audio for the game. Audio has always been a tough thing for sports games; getting an authentic feel of commentary and game sounds can be difficult. Not for “The Show,” though: this game sounds almost perfect, just how a sports video game should sound. With a mix of spectacular in-game sounds to some of the best commentary to date, “The Show” hits a home-run when it comes to sound.

However, this game suffers from what I call mid-2000’s game commentary. Very often, the announcer sounds like he is interjecting his own sentence, since the lines for names were recorded separately. The game does its best to make it sound smooth, but it just doesn’t work. In addition to this, the game also struggles because the developers can only record so much commentary audio. So, in a 162-game season, get ready to hear a lot of repeated commentary. 

While the commentary does struggle at times, the game sounds are lifelike. From the crack of the bat from a home run ball to the umpire saying “strike three!” the game nails the feel of being on a baseball field and playing the game. 

The commentary of “MLB The Show 20” is also much better than its competitors. I would only put it second to Visual Concepts’ NBA 2K series in presentation and audio. Audio gets a seven out of ten.

Next up, the three main game modes. This is a very odd category because “MLB The Show” added almost nothing new to this year’s game, yet I find it very hard to fault them for it. The game’s franchise mode, the game’s career mode Road to the Show (RTTS), and the game’s ultimate team feature Diamond Dynasty all received very minimal updates, if any. 

The developers added relocation for Franchise mode, a much-needed feature that allows players to move one of the 30 MLB teams anywhere they want and customize their jerseys. They did not fully add it in, as the player is not allowed to make their own ballpark or create an entirely new team. It feels like they copy-and-pasted the team creator from Diamond Dynasty into franchise mode and called it a new feature. Despite not much being new, the franchise mode is awesome. 

The mode offers a deep and fun experience from pitch to hit. From managing every little aspect down to the sponsorships of the replays to the large, robust scouting mechanics, the game delivers on everything a sports gamer wants. It also continues to be the only game that allows players to continue a franchise from last year’s game.

Road to the Show continues to offer the most lifelike and compelling career mode in sports. Unlike NBA 2K, the game does not bog down the experience with cutscenes from a story nobody cares about; instead, they let you build your own stories and play the game. Combined with the realism and attention to detail in the parks, stepping onto a major league field for the first time is an experience yet to be replicated by any sports game to date. The only fault of this game mode is that it’s the same from last year. 

Steve Noah Operation Sports Forums
Example of the new Perfect-Perfect Hitting system

Lastly of the three main modes, Diamond Dynasty. This mode is very compelling to me. While I have a strong disdain for the microtransaction infested and pay-to-win game mode, the mode is really fun. The mode, like most, remains the same or similar to last year but it doesn’t bother me as much. The game modes inside of the Diamond Dynasty mode are very entertaining, my favorite being the conquest mode, which is Risk with baseball.

While lacking many differences from last year, San Diego Studio delivered three fantastic and enjoyable game modes. For those reasons, the game modes get a nine out of ten. I just would have liked to see something new from the studio building on top of these outstanding modes.

As the cleanup hitter, bring out gameplay. So let’s just jump on into it: this game is masterful in its gameplay, the newest addition being the new Perfect-Perfect system, which allows skilled players to hit better. 

The game makes you feel like you are playing baseball. The gameplay systems are deep yet easily understandable. The game also provides a large skill gap, with seasoned players being able to pitch and hit better than newer players.

Some players have reported glitches with artificial intelligence and clipping issues, but I have yet to experience any bugs through my 20 plus hours of gameplay. Overall, gameplay receives a ten out of ten, delivering enjoyable gameplay while still having a rich, skill-based experience.

While lacking in updated features, the game continues to portray baseball as we have never seen it before. If you are interested in MLB or baseball in general, I cannot recommend “MLB The Show 20” enough.