MLB The Show 17 returns just in time for spring training. Every year sports games are tasked with providing enough of a change year over year that fans feel like a true upgrade has been made. Sony San Diego Studios provides plenty of new features that should hold baseball fans over until next year’s game.
With MLB The Show 17 only being released on the PlayStation 4 this year, Sony was able to apply all of its resources into creating this year’s game. The results show immediately upon launching into a game. The graphics in this year’s game are amazing. I could easily argue that this is currently the best looking sports game on the market.
As an added bonus if you have a PlayStation 4 Pro and a 4K resolution television screen you will have three different graphic modes to play on. The game will default you on the 4K resolution mode (if you have the monitor to support it) but you also have the options of playing on 1440p as well as 1080p with an increased frame rate focus. With all three of these graphic modes you also get HDR options.
To go along with the new graphic options MLB The Show 17 also delights you with an all new presentation. It starts with a fresh new look to the interface. The menus are very easy to navigate with everything being clearly organized and with the most used options up front.
Lighting is another huge upgrade. This is really noticeable during afternoon and night games. If you have an HDR television, then you will definitely enjoy the lighting improvements.
The all new MLB Network broadcast style presentation is a really nice and much needed addition to this year’s game. The presentation will make MLB viewers feel comfortable. The game just feels much more authentic than before with the overlays being pulled straight from what your used to seeing on TV.
Along with the new MLB Network presentation is a new commentary team that includes Harold Reynolds, Dan Plesac and longtime MLB The Show announcer Matt Vasgersian. The team however feels bland at times, as they deliver very predictable and repeating lines. I’m sure this is something that will be improved upon in future iterations however most will begin to tune out the commentary after a couple hours of play.
The gameplay has also seen a lot of attention for MLB The Show 17. The game looks very smooth and authentic with tons of new animations. Infielders now have the ability to read the runners, so gone are the days where a routine play would be beat out by the runner because the infielder casually took too long to throw the ball. They now will appropriately change the velocity and type of their throws based on the situation and the speed of the runner.
The outfield got some love as well. Fielders will now longer take a direct route to field the ball. They now will take a more indirect route to the ball which creates a more authentic experience. This is a very subtle improvement but it really has a positive effect on the gameplay.
Probably the biggest and most noticeable gameplay improvement is the new hit variations and types. Sony San Diego Studios claims nearly 1 Million plus ball animations have been added to the game. The fundamental structure of how they gathered ball physics and animations was completely redone. In the past they would gather information based on a ball hitting a wall, that is no longer the case. This year they gathered their ball physics information from a round ball hitting a round bat. This fundamental change completely changes the types of hits you are able to achieve and ads authenticity as well.
The three main game modes: Franchise, Diamond Dynasty, and Road to the Show have all made their return. Each game mode has received some improvements as well.
Franchise mode received the lowest amount of improvements from last year. The overall experience seems like a very familiar one, but they did at what they call “Critical Situation”. This feature is a way for players to progress through season much quicker than before, while still maintaining some sort of control.
Critical Situations places the player in only the important situations of a ball game. You essentially simulate until big moment presents itself such as a chance to close out a very close game or extra innings. You will even get opportunity to jump in to complete individual situation such as a chance to bring home a runner in scoring position or a chance to complete the cycle. This feature is great for those who want to get through multiple seasons.
Diamond Dynasty basically builds on the fundamentals that it created over the past couple of years. The reward system has been tweaked to give players more ways to earn XP throughout the game. However, the Conquest game mode is completely unchanged.
Road to the Show is easily the most improved mode, and it’s for the better. This year the career mode is told in a documentary style. Gone are the days of just simply playing game after game. You are now given situations where you can choose your action. Your team wants to move you from 3rd base to 1st, or maybe even outfield you have to choice to accept the coach’s demands or you can go against his suggestions and remain at your position. The ladder could result in a loss of playing time or even demotion.
This is a new and interesting take on career mode and will give players a different and interesting story. The mode feels even more like an RPG and Sony says that they plan on evolving the Road to the Show mode even more in the upcoming year’s.
Overall MLB The Show 17 does what it’s supposed to do and builds on last year’s great game. It’s hard to truly improve year after year without any competition but the development team is able to do that with this game. The documentary style of RTTS is brilliant and the new MLB Network broadcast addition is great and adds authenticity to the game. MLB The Show 17 is a great game for any baseball fans and will provide a great experience from any of their game modes.