MLB 07: The Show Review

Baseball fans were a little put off when Sony revealed their next-gen outing of MLB 07: The Show wouldn’t be released until six weeks into the season. On the bright side, if a game was coming to the show that long after its competition (and PS2 version), surely it would be greatly improved, right? Well, not necessarily.

For starters, MLB 07: The Show suffers from the same problem mother other first next-gen sports titles suffer: bad graphics. Despite the fact it’s on the vastly superior PS3 (hardware wise, that is), and despite the fact the developers had about three months to tune things up, The Show still looks like a slightly upgraded PS2 port. They aren’t as infuriating as, say, Spider-Man 3’s graphics, but they’re markedly not as next-gen looking as we expected them to be.

Other than that, the PS3 version is basically an upgrade and straight port of the PS2 iteration. Almost all of the same game modes made the transition, with only a couple of minigames staying in the minors. Road to the Show returns, and really offers a new perspective on the standard career mode. Much like the Superstar mode in Madden, you create your player, pick a position, and then enter a career. Thankfully, the developers realized that baseball is a long and boring game for most people, so they fast forward the gameplay until your character is directly involved or batting. This makes the games go by quickly, yet still lets you play only the position you want to play.

To upgrade your player’s skills, you have to perform certain tasks given to you before batting (or pitching, if you’re a pitcher). For a batter, you have to do things like hit the ball, hit a double, drive in a run, etc. while pitchers are told to strike a batter out or force hitters into a double play. There’s really no tasks to complete on the fielding side of the ball, so if you find yourself struggling at the hitting game, your player will reflect that.

Speaking of hitting, all I can say is thank God MLB 07 didn’t go the route of MLB 2K7 and use the stick for hitting. In 2K7 I found that system frustrating and difficult to use, so I’m glad we see a return to the button-pressing style of hitting. At the same time, I can’t help but feel button pressing is reaching the limit of its lifespan before it becomes too dull. One thing that makes it a little refreshing is the ability to guess the pitch before the swing. Guess correctly, and you’re rewarded with a better hit. Guess incorrectly, and…well, you can probably figure that out on your own. A new Swing Analysis feature helps make hitting simpler, but still…something needs to be changed in baseball games, I just don’t know what.

While the batting is fairly average, MLB 07 places a huge emphasis on the pitching game. With the Pitch Command System and Adaptive Pitching Intelligence features, the pitching game is a lot more strategic than in the past. The API feature is one of my favorite features in recent sports gaming. With API, the catcher will make the calls, just like in real life. Going off of the batter’s stats and tendencies, as well as thousands of real life situations and stats, catchers will recommend which pitch to use. As a pitcher, you’re given the option of agreeing with him, or shaking it off and calling your own pitch.

The way pitching works is fairly easy to understand, but hard to master. You first push the button of the pitch you want to throw, and then use the analog stick to choose the location you throw it at. After hitting X a few times in a meter (which most baseball gamers will understand the minute they see it), the ball is off. When you throw a pitch successfully, a meter near the pitch fills up, and it becomes easier to throw that kind of ball. Like real baseball, though, you can’t rely on only one or two pitches to get you through (well, some people can) — you need to mix it up.

There’s no doubt that with MLB 07 Sony went the route of making their game as realistic as possible. Most of the time, this is an incredible feat, and a blast to play. There are times, however, when the realism is frustrating. Guess what? One of those has to deal with pitching! Much like real baseball, the umpires in MLB 07 have their own personalities and beliefs. (I’m sure some of them even believe in scientology, if asked.) This means that pitches aren’t as clearcut as in other titles, and what may obviously be a strike to you may never be a strike to Umpire Jim. It sounds cool on paper, but in reality it makes you need to try and pay attention to what’s being called a strike and what isn’t; fun for enthusiasts, sure, but for those who just want to play a game, it can be very, very frustrating.

Of course, most baseball aficionados will spend most of their time in the franchise mode. For those of you who have wanted to run your own club, now’s your chance. Not only do you control the obvious things like signings, drafts, trades and lineups, but you also control every aspect of the team, including food prices, television contracts and more. Thankfully, those of us who never dreamed of setting the price of a hot dog in our ballpark can assign the more mundane tasks to CPU control, and just focus on the actual game.

MLB 07: The Show is obviously a game baseball fans will enjoy more than non-fans. The realistic aspect of the game creates a wonderful feeling akin to the real game, and when you’re online the updated MLB scores help add to that realism. Unfortunately, this means that a large portion of the sports gaming crowd will look elsewhere, as number crunching may not be their idea of fun. There’s really no reason this game should have come out this late, and ultimately that will hurt its sales, since most of the people who would have gotten this picked up the PS2 version and there’s not enough reason to justify repurchasing the game on the PS3. If you’re a baseball fan who doesn’t have MLB 07: The Show on the PS2 yet and you want a good baseball game for your PS3, go ahead and pick this one up. Casual sports gamers are better off renting first, to see if they enjoy the realism, or purchasing the cheaper PS2 game.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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