|System: PS3, PS2, PSP|
|Dev: SCE Studios San Diego|
|Release: March 8, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||ESRB RATING|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Unlike football, baseball is one sport where game developers have remained competitive. Though the 2K MLB series has always done a great job with realism, The Show once again proves that it has the upper hand. Though the newest entry doesn't exactly re-invent the wheel, The Show has plenty of new features that will keep veterans happy. Though newbies will probably get a little lost at first with its expansive features and modes, the game's intuitive interface and "Road to the Show" mode ensure that players of all skill levels can sit back and enjoy The Show.
As is the case with all yearly sports titles, The Show does have a fair amount of recycled content. Unfortunately, sports fans have come to expect this type of repetition, as short development times limit what one can do to update a game full of hundreds of character models, extremely accurate physics engines, and enough stats to make a pro fantasy player squeal with delight.
But despite having Franchise and Road to the Show modes that are nearly identical to last year's offering (with the exception of roster updates and some organizational differences), this year's The Show is packing a big punch in the form of new "pure" analog controls. Though the Show has had pretty standard controls in its previous iterations, the new approach to the control scheme makes the experience feel even more accurate by using the right analog stick to augment the particulars of the action you are taking. For example, when pitching, you can use the right stick to determine specific throwing stats before you let go. Conversely, the pure analog system, when implemented while you are batting allows for additional precision when striding and swinging.
The learning curve is steep for those who are new to the franchise, or have been away for awhile, but the game smartly weaves small tutorials throughout the game. Despite its somewhat repetitive and derivative nature, the Road to the Show mode is a great vehicle to use to learn all the nuances for the new controls, and though it's easy to be tempted to jump right into the game's super-deep franchise mode, following a single-player through a career will give you a deep understanding of the new mechanics, and also still provides the same satisfying experience that fans have come to expect from the series. And of course, if the game sees that you are doing poorly (there's a very sensitive performance analysis tool) some pretty intense tutorials will be triggered, and the game will lock you out of progression until you do better. It sounds harsh, but if you are jumping feet first into The Show, it is a welcome assist.
In addition to minor changes to the single-player mode, MLB 11: The Show also implements a change to the multiplayer mode that has been a long time coming: four-player co-op. Though two-player co-op has been a staple of the baseball genre for quite some time, there has always been room for larger multiplayer fun, and with this latest release, fans finally get what they've been asking for. And the best part? You can take your four-player matches online as well!
And speaking of online modes, MLB 11: The Show also has a weekly challenge mode where players can submit their scores to compete with players around the world. If you are confident in your skills, you can even qualify for some real-life prizes. This mode is a great incentive to keep players engaged, and even though I consider myself more of a "noob" when it comes to baseball, if you are a heavy-hitter, participating in the weekly challenges will be a rewarding experience...literally!