By Brandon De Jesus, staff writer
There is nothing like being on a diamond field of green, with the wind at your back and the roar of the crowd cheering you on in all directions. I got that feeling from just sitting on my couch playing MLB The Show 17, another tremendous entry in this long running PlayStation exclusive series that is sure to make America’s Pastime popular amongst fans past and present.
While MLB The Show 16 was a great entry in this series, The Show 17 takes major steps forward to make the game more genuine than ever before and in return more fun to play.
Expectations are set rather high with a tremendous opening video at the start of the game where a man is drawing various historical baseball moments on a chalkboard with the last moment in the video being colored in red and blue to represent the Cubs winning the 2016 World Series.
From there, the menus have been given a fresh new look from previous “MLB The Show” games and remains user-friendly. On the field, the lighting has been improved greatly from previous games, which is notable after the attention the game designers gave it in years past. The lighting for day games is especially striking.
MLB The Show 17 is rich with brand new animations that have a clear-cut impact on how the game is played. These animations are rather subtle, but not so much so if you have played this series for many years. For example, infielders read the runners in order to put a proper amount of speed into their throws. You will no longer see a runner beat out a throw to a base solely due to an infielder taking too long to make the play. As far as the outfield is concerned, players no longer make mechanical specific routes to the ball.
In addition to these new animations, add on a slew of new hit possibilities and you’ve got yourself an ultra-realistic looking and playing baseball game. Sony played up the number of different hits you can get and they did not disappoint. Floating line drives, spinning ground balls and wind carried fly balls look and act the way they do on TV.
Speaking of which, new MLB Network broadcasting elements enhance the games’ legitimacy. One neat aspect of this is “Showtrack,” an overlay with statistics that appears on the top right of the screen during instant replays. If there is one minor gripe with the presentation in The Show 17 it is that transitions between replays can be choppy at times. However, to be fair, these are the only mishaps that I have seen with the performance.
The MLB Network presentation also brings in new commentary thanks to their on-air analysts Dan Plesac and Harold Reynolds. Long-time play-by-play commentator Matt Vasgersian is back again as he has been for every previous installment of MLB The Show, but the addition of Reynolds and Plesac enhance the gaming experience as they chime in with opportune and accurate information. There are still repetitive lines of dialogue at times, but The Show 17 has the best broadcast team in the history of this series thanks to dialogue that is, for the most part, fresh and interesting. The three man commentary team brings the feel of a real baseball television broadcast onto the PlayStation 4.
The three main modes of this series return in this installment: Road to the Show, Franchise and Diamond Dynasty.
Added to this mix is the new Retro Mode, which attempts to bring back the feel of classic baseball games such as “Bases Loaded” for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Retro Mode looks and plays great with an old school feel that regenerated my fondness for old school gaming.
The new mode features retro fonts, texts and a simple control scheme that may bug hardcore fans of this series, but freshens the game up and, most importantly, is really fun to play.
Road to the Show mode contains one of my favorite aspects of the game. The whole mode is shown like a baseball documentary which is a new feature that makes this single player mode more detailed than in previous MLB The Show games. An off-screen narrator describes the important career decisions a player must make like picking the right team during free agency or changing positions on the field.
Franchise mode is extremely similar to last years game, but the new Critical Situations feature stands out. While you’re simulating through games to progress the season quickly, the game will pause and allow you to take control of the action if something big is about to occur like having the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning.
As for Diamond Dynasty, most of the core aspects of the mode remain untouched; however, the goals and reward system got changed with more ways to earn Stubs (The Show’s in-game currency) and XP. Conquest mode within Diamond Dynasty remains unchanged from last years game. San Diego Studio continues to do a bad job explaining the convoluted rules of Conquest, as I felt like I needed to take a bunch of unpredictable steps in between games. Conquest however, does not affect the gameplay as a whole because it is still top notch.
MLB The Show 17 feels like a real game of baseball that all fans, old or young, can easily get invested in. Overall rating 9.5/10.