America’s past time gets its next installment from Sony San Diego with the release of MLB: The Show 17 and the Show just keeps getting better with age. I played last years iteration of the game extensively so I was looking forward to getting my hands on this years installment of the game.
This year’s game had a serious focus on adding more depth the each of the game modes that the Show offers, which are a ton. As always I started my playing experience with Road to the Show. If you guys did not get a chance to check out our previous post about the changes to Road to the Show, there was an awesome addition to the game mode that turns the experience into a documentary style of game with a narrator and all. Players now have interactions with coaches, scouts, and advisors where they will choose dialogue options that branch conversations into different directions. This was a really cool addition to make the experience of Road to the Show feel a bit more meaningful, however the only thing holding it back is it’s repetition in the encounters. For example, in my playthrough as a pitcher the pitching coach approaches me after nearly every game to have the same conversation about how well I have been doing at striking guys out. If it was not as frequent I wouldn’t be a bother but because it has been so frequent, it begins to get old. Other than that the Road to the Show experience is loads of fun as always and I will be grinding to get to the Hall of Fame with a pitcher and center fielder as I normally do.
As for the Franchise Mode, they made some nice additions as well. The coolest addition is the player lock feature, which allows players to choose a player on their team and play the games exclusively as that player. Want Kris Bryant to win back-to-back MVPs? Lock as him then you play every game of Franchise Mode as the Cubs star. Another new way to play franchise mode is through the quick manage mode. This allows players to choose how they want to approach each at bat defensively and offensively. Is it a tie game and your team is about to face Miguel Cabrera in the ninth? Then simply pitch around him and just hope he doesn’t end the game in one swing. What is awesome about the quick manage mode is that if you take that same scenario you can choose to jump into the game and play that scenario like a regular game. Then once you feel you are safe to continue quick managing you can go back to doing so without hassle. What is also really cool about this years Franchise Mode is that you are able to choose which aspects of running the organization you want to do and what you want done by CPU. Say you hate going through the scouting process and dealing with lineup management, with the new feature you can simply switch those to being automatically completely by hovering over that option in the main menu and hitting square. All of these features make Franchise Mode a great customizable experience that can be adjusted to what the player decides to do. The ease of being able to use all of these features is what truly makes it an overall better experience than last year.
Now for Diamond Dynasty. The competitive team-building game mode is back and better than ever this year. This year they added a couple new ways to play and earn cards for those who want to play against CPU and make their team better before diving into the online scene. Extra Innings is a game mode that allows you to pick another users team and play against it while AI is controlling the team you choose. You then adjust the difficulty and dive into the game. If you win, you will get rewarded with a random card that can be any rarity; however, if you up the difficulty of the AI, you get a high percentage of getting better cards. Another new way to play Diamond Dynasty is with events. Now, the first event does not begin until April 4th, but the way they work is that players will be given parameters as to how their team is to be structured and they then compete to be at the top of the leaderboard. They have yet to release the reward structure for competing in these events but they are sure to really help you build your team. Battle Royale, Conquest, and traditional online head-to-head matchups are all back this year and will give people another way to scratch that competitive itch.
These three game modes along with the addition of Retro Mode, where you play a nine inning game with simplified controls, MLB: The Show really does give you so many ways to play and have fun. Challenge of the Week gives players a fun way to earn some awesome physical prizes (the first week prize is a signed Louisville Slugger bat by none other than Ken Griffey Jr. himself), and modes like Postseason and Home Run Derby offer quick, simple game modes for those that like the exciting parts of the game.
Technically is where The Show has gone the extra mile this year. First off, the game plays at 60fps with little to no framerate drop that I have noticed and it makes the experience feel so much smoother. The amount of animations they have added to the game vastly improves the variation in the way people field as well which keeps the gameplay feeling fresh. Also with the smart AI added to the defensive players, people will no longer have to be worried about their shortstops taking too long to throw the ball as players adapt to the situations. If Billy Hamilton hits a ball to the shorstop, the shortstop will throw quickly because of the speed of the hitter, whereas, if a pitcher is running, the shortstop will take his time. The final piece to the gameplay was that there are now millions of possibilities of hit patterns now. Before you would see similar hit patterns within the same game, but now you will find new hit animations weeks after the games release.
Sony San Diego, continues to show why MLB: The Show is the best sports game out there by continuing to grow the game technically and with more game modes. The gameplay is the smoothest it has ever been, and has more variation to make the game feel as realistic as it has ever been. The new ways to play in franchise mode and Diamond Dynasty enrich the game with seemingly endless ways to play. The only thing that I can say that is negative about the game is that the repetition in the narration in Road to the Show interactions gets a bit tiresome. Other than that, this game is a masterpiece and has set the bar incredibly high for other sports franchises to try and reach.
What do you guys think of this years iteration of America’s past time? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us @TheNerdChambers!