MLB THE SHOW '23 REVIEW (PS5)
''THE OL BALL GAME''
Developed: San Diego Studio
Published: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Release Date: March 24th, 2033
Platforms: PS4/PS5/Xbox Family/NSW
*Review copy provided to me by PLAYSTATION*
MLB The Show 23 is the latest baseball simulator game in this highly praised series and is developed by San Diego Studio and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. With MLB The Show 22 slightly under performing with the expectations of fans, San Diego Studio decides to up the ante and beef up the the 2023 game in multiple ways. But, are these changes and additions exactly what the fans have been wanting? or is this a case of strike two with one more and you're out? only one way to find out, so take me out to the ball game!
As America's stock of athletic young men is depleted during World War II, a professional all-female baseball league springs up in the Midwest, funded by publicity-hungry candy maker Walter Harvey. Competitive sisters Dottie Hinson and Kit Keller spar with each other, scout Ernie Capadino and grumpy has-been coach Jimmy Dugan on their way to fame. Wait what? yeah sorry, this is MLB The Show, that whole write up story, that's from A League Of Their Own, my bad guys.
''JUMP UP SUPERSTAR''
The MLB The Show franchise has experienced quite a few oddities in recent years. Not as weird as Tom Hanks peeing in the girls locker room bathroom for like ten minutes, not quite that weird, but more so the strange becoming's of going multiplatform. Sure the series has gained a vast larger install base and even overall fanbase due to going multiplatform a few years back, but sadly, because of being made for multiple platforms, it seems the quality of each entry since 2021 has been pretty lacking. At least in my humble opinion and the opinions of other fans of this this series. 2021's entry saw almost the writing on the wall with certain versions of the game not stacking up to others, whether it be because shorter development time or having to share resources in order to create a sort of ''equality'' factor so one system didn't outright destroy the other.. and thus created fans like me, who whined, cried and screamed. I know I know. ''THERES NO CRYING IN BASEBALL''. But it was pretty maddening to me. Flash forward a year later with the 2022 entry of MLB The Show, and while some of the issues were fixed overall with the quality of the game, it felt like it was still holding back the potential fans knew it has and has always had. Which again, was enraging because even though its an annual title, yes, it still played it very conservative and offered, in my opinion, one of the least updated titles in the franchises history. You're killing me smalls! come on. Now we move ahead to the 2023 iteration and is the game vastly changed from 2022? well no and also yes. For one thing, there is a plethora more content introduced this time around that not only has a great story behind it, but also a historic history in that of the Negro leagues. Like seriously, who wouldn't want to witness the amazingness of greats like Jackie Robinson, Buck O'Neil, Hank Thompson, Satchel Paige, etc. With The Negro Leagues being the main version of the campaign this year, this means you will have a total of EIGHT various stories involving the eight playable characters, with every single one giving career highlights via short videos and gameplay to coincide with their careers. This is an absolute treat because it gives me strong vibes WWE 2K games Showcase mode that allows you to playthrough key moments of a legends careers. Another plus to me is that it also gives me a strong vibe of the recent Gran Turismo 7 that gave you histories of the cars themselves. I always love when history is thrown in my games like this. I love it so much that I'm going to go fake drown so I can go make out with the local life guard, I'll be right back.
Ok I'm just playing, I'm too much of a introvert to leave the house at the moment. Returning in this entry is of course the on field action we all know and love, as well as Zone-Style hitting and Pinpoint pitching, with pinpoint pitching actually feeling much smoother and more in the hands of the player itself, rather than the game dictating for you. Now when pitching, you may turn on an assisted mode that lets you see each players hot and red zones and gives you an idea of what pitch to throw. Now it doesn't always give you the right choice on what to pick, so its best to use your own instincts at the end of the day, such as if the batter has a high cold spot, throw in a slider and let the bottom drop out, making the idiot swing and a miss. Sorry bro, I'm the Ricky Vaughn of this era. Welcome to the Major Leagues, chump. Like wise, hitting is the same way with players getting the opportunity to choose multiple ways to bat, depending on what you as the player are more comfortable with. Are you more of a aiming type that takes an area cursor and moves around the screen to follow the ball around as its pitched and press Square to power hit, triangle to bunt, circle for contact and x for basic hitting? or are you like me and prefer to keep your eyes on the pitcher themselves and then just time your hits based off your own personal instinct. I'm pretty lazy so I'd rather not have to move my left joystick around and chase a ball, and I'd much rather time each hit to the ball as it crosses the plate, its always been second nature to me, almost as second nature as taunting pitchers in order to get their attention away from my runners trying to steal a base. ''PITCHERS GOT A BIG BUTT'' always seems to do the trick and ticks them off super good. While messing with the pitcher is fun though, you know what I miss? messing with the batters, mainly with the Ephus pitches. Back in titles like MLB 2K7, I would turn the sliders on full blast and toss one of those puppies to the point where it would fly off the screen for like 3 to 4 seconds and then come back down, boom, strike!. Ahh good times.
''I WONT HIT HIM WITH A PITCH... THIS TIME''
Graphic wise this go around, the game uses the same engine that its used for quite a few years. It's not the best looking game out there, but in my opinion, its far better than last year entry goes in relation to the character models, the animations, the way each stadium looks, the crowd designs, the fields, everything to me looks clean, polished and '''very nice'' according to Borat. But while it does look good in its own right, part of me also feels that its still being held back from its true next gen potential of what the quality of this franchise could truly reach.. and in that aspect, it does feel like its starting to SHOW its age. I know, bad pun, but hey, people that say this game looks ATROCIOUS, like I've been seeing in some of the reviews that are out there, not only do YOU play ball like a girl, but you also bob for apples in toilets. But enough about those eggheads. As stated before, the big highlight of this game is definitely The Negro Leagues as the true standout and achievement here. Showing you the complete celebration of its pre-integration, as well as acknowledging the hardships that african american players faced during that period. Which goes side by side with the way women were once treated when during the war, when they too had their own league and were treated differently because of their sex, much too were The Negro League's treated differently due to their skin color. One of the shining examples of this mode is the emphasis on putting some of the most notorious players on display, alongside the authentic way they played in the outfield, infield, pitching and batting. One of those focuses is of course on the man Jackie Robinson himself, sure, as the mode points out, he might not have been the best player in the entire league, although he was damn good and just as exciting to watch today as he was to fans that saw him live back in the day, through his off the field personality and wholesome nature he presented himself with, a man like him was able to break the color barrier, so to speak, and help usher in a new found respect for people of his creed. Sure it didn't happen over night, but the fact still remains, because of him and the dedication of dozens of others and their love for the game, the MLB has been able to expand to further heights and evolve as an overall sport.
When you're not feeling as inspired as I was and entranced by the history lesson the game offers you without it feelin overbearing like a homework assignment, you may partake in Diamond Dynasty, which is a pretty decent addition to MLB The Show. This mode is implemented to the point in which it awards top level cards in a quicker fashion, way quicker than a typical gacha format that you would usually find in things like this. The downside of this however is the forceful uses of ''Seasons''. But why is that a bad thing? well because it will take all your progress away from your team, FOR-EV-ER, FORRR-EVVVVV-ERRR. Ok maybe not forever, but it does require you to remake your entire time all over again at certain points, which can feel a tad bit tedious, especially when you've spent hours getting your perfect team setup. I mean I guess its cool and all, especially with the addition of the World Baseball Classic content that lets you get tons of cards from all around the globe and not just in the U.S., that's always a big treat, but there in lies a problem. Microtransactions. Uh oh. Yup, with the WBC and Diamond Dynasty, it brings pay to play content that may turn some fans off if you want your favorite players right away. The only plus side to this is while yes it feels like it screws you over.. at the same time.. it also doesn't feel that bad?. Its weird to explain. Its like which do you like better, being pinched in the finger by a gacha lobster or stubbing your toe in a slightly less invasive microtransaction scheme?. Its really a flip of the coin. I know it could turn some people off of playing this, but for me, I personally chose to stick around for the people involved in the game, and instead of making actual purchases, in a way to show my disdain, I just turn around and ''Give them all a nice big s—burger''. Thanks Manager Lou Brown.
One of the other modes in this game that I didn't even have on my radar and embarrassingly enough forgot about, was the actual MLB Draft. I know I know ''Man, this is baseball, you gotta stop thinking'', but I'm really not sure how that one passed over my head. Once again returning in this years addition, cause, duh, the MLB Draft gets what I consider a substantial upgrade from previous years with the Draft now being a viable pick for usage in relation to modes like Franchise or in your March to October runs - and because of this, players can now set scouting priorities on a week to week basis and make a once sort of ''passable'' addition to the game, become something that is more of an ''event'' and give it a more dynamic feel, making it closer to the authenticity of what you'd get during the real draft itself. I know it may not seem like a huge deal to a lot of people, but I take notice for details like this because if you're touting ''the best simulation'' of something, then gosh dang it, you better deliver on that promise of making it as 1:1 to the simulation you're attempting, otherwise I'm going to go to every Best Buy, Gamestop, Target, Amazon and every retailer that sells your game, buy every single copy, and then proceed to kick it over the neighbors fence so no one can ever play your game ever again. I mean it. You can't just go and retrieve it either, because ''It Is The Law Of The Sandlot. Anything That Goes Over That Fence…Becomes Property Of The Beast!" So you reap what you sow devs. But luckily, San Diego Studio escapes my wrath and actually gives a really great experience with the draft this time around.
''HEROES GET REMEMBERED. BUT LEGENDS NEVER DIE''
At the end of the day, MLB The Show 23 is a title that outperforms the expectations I had for it, while also not steering too far from what its predecessors has done before it. While its not perfect due to way too many in game prompts telling you what to do before you even get started, a jumbled main screen UI that when you first boot up is like an ugly mess of text, and Dynasty feeling a bit cash grabby - it still makes up for it in droves with the left intact accessibility that allows veterans of the series, as well as newcomers, to be able to drop in a game at any time and enjoy the game of baseball they love, great options for multiple ways to pitch, hit and even field that lets you choose between hit boxes and button timing or auto controlled outfielders like they're Angels In The Outfield, only without Christopher Lloyd, smooth online play and an absolute stellar storyline of The Negro League. This title may not be for everyone, especially if you're into the more arcade style, which if that is the case, I highly recommend you go and check out Konami's WBSC EBaseball Power Pros, that's a great arcade baseball game. However, if you are needing to scratch that yearly baseball simulation itch, then there's no better way to do it than here with MLB The Show 23, regardless of your platform of purchase. So with all that having been said, my verdict is clear, GameNChick says BUY NOW