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'The Show is a game so fine

Apr 7, 2016

By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada

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MLB The Show 16Spring has officially sprung, and with it comes a game so fine, it's played on diamonds. The baseball season is barely a few days old, but many fans of the sport have already put on their cleats and hit the basepaths thanks to the Sony-exclusive MLB The Show 16. It's a superb baseball sim once again in 2016, although it strikes out in one very significant way.

The Show franchise may be the only big-name baseball game out there year after year, but the developers at SCE San Diego Studio don't allow that to be a reason to rest on their laurels. There is a ridiculous amount of content in MLB The Show 16, and there's simply bound to be something for virtually every type of baseball fan.

While it's tough to narrow the game down to a specific number of features, the focus seems to be on three areas - Franchise, Diamond Dynasty, and Road to the Show.

Franchise allows players to pick a favourite team and run through an entire season. The game allows for as much or as little control as a person would like, and games can be finished quickly, or last as long as a real game, depending on preference.

MLB The Show 16This is my favourite mode simply because it feels so darn much like a real baseball season, with the added benefit of being able to control everything, from trades and pitching rotations, to employing defensive shifts and adding specific walk-up music for players.

For those who want to fight for bragging rights with their friends, meanwhile, the online franchise mode returns for 2016, letting players opt for a season length of their choosing, as well as playoffs.

While my online experience in MLB The Show 14 (the last entry in the series I played) was less than perfect, it seems to be much smoother in this year's version. There is barely any lag, with the exception of some pitching inputs not activating properly. That said, it only happens a handful of times each game, and is far from a distraction.

MLB The Show 16Diamond Dynasty is clearly given high priority this year thanks to two intriguing new modes, but the focus on "stubs" sour much of the experience.

Stubs are used to access several new features in MLB The Show 16, and can be gained by completing in-game objectives, completing training, going through games ... and by purchasing them with real money. The problem is, in my experience, the stubs added up very slowly, and it felt like this addition was included for no reason than to keep players paying throughout the season with real money. It's disappointing at best, and maddening at worst.

While the stubs don't really alter the balance of the game, they're required for one specific new game mode called Battle Royale. This mode, where players draft a full team of 25 players and play short three-inning games in a bid to avoid elimination, can only be accessed by using stubs. Why the developers would choose to make such a fun feature only accessible by essentially unlocking it over and over again is beyond me, and is truly a shame.

MLB The Show 16Conquest Mode, which thankfully can be played without stubs, plays out like a real-time strategy game. Players choose a team and attempt to become the most popular franchise in the U.S. by winning over other cities' fans and beating other teams in real games. Conquest Mode surely won't be for everyone, although it still has a clear focus on baseball.

Road to the Show isn't ignored either, which is a good thing considering how popular it is with The Show faithful. In this mode, players choose an athlete to rise through the ranks of the minor leagues, where they hopefully reach "the show" and eventually win the World Series and enter the baseball Hall of Fame.

This year, the new "Showtime" feature allows players to slow down time, making it easier to aim that ball where you want, to land that hit in the perfect spot, or to make that epic grab in the field. Unfortunately, it's confusing as to how to refill your Showtime meter. As of the writing of this review, I've only been able to use it in two games.

MLB The Show 16This leads to another issue with the game - while the countless features are much appreciated, not everything is clearly explained. Tutorials can be replayed at any time, but this still doesn't answer a lot of questions, and many of the help menus do nothing more than explain what the controller's buttons do. They don't delve into the nitty-gritty of how each feature works.

There are other subtle - but appreciated - changes, such as new lighting effects, and umpires that will call different pitches different ways depending on their real-life counterparts' habits. It all adds to the real-life presentation the game offers. I'm still astounded at the announcers' repetoire of lines.

It all makes for a realistic baseball video game that, while not exactly Base Wars, offers a casual experience for fans as well. The addition of stubs does little for the game, but there's still a whole lotta baseball for players to sift through nonetheless.

 

 

 

MLB The Show 16
Format: Playstation 4
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer: SCE San Diego Studio
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Official Site: http://theshow.com/

Rating: 8.5 / 10

 
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About G4 in Canada
G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.