BY GRIFFIN GUINTA AND PHIL NOVOTNY
With baseball season kicking off, we wanted to connect with our favorite MLB teams in a unique and authentic way, so naturally we rented MLB: The Show 16 for PS4. Doing so gave us a chance to actually feel like we had some semblance of control over our favorite teams and allowed us to throw 94 mph fastballs with the push of a button. On the whole, the game is bolstered by impressive graphics, realistic pitching mechanics and a fairly intuitive gameplay system. For the casual gamer, this game is a hit. However, for the more analytical sort, the game can be a bit frustrating at times. Here’s our in-depth review of this year’s The Show.
Right off the bat (pun intended), the game puts you in a tutorial matchup between last year’s World Series teams, the Kansas City Royals and New York Mets. While neither of us complained about having to use Edinson Volquez or Matt Harvey on the mound, the game’s menu offers no quit button, meaning we couldn’t jump straight into the game–or so we thought. Apparently you have to play the tutorial until the game fully downloads, which chalks up to a full nine innings. Though semi-annoying, the tutorial is fun and gives players the chance to dust off their analog sticks and get acclimated with The Show 16’s gameplay. The developers certainly took realism into account, as outfielders now run more realistic routes (leading to both impressive catches and extra-base hits) and players placed out of position will struggle accordingly. For example, in games past you could put Big Papi at first base at an NL ballpark so he could still hit and not expect too much of a dropoff on defense. Now, Papi will bobble those quick throws and fail to elevate more than two inches off the ground on a line drive. Also, the game stays true to who can and cannot play to their capability. For example, 2015 American League Gold-Glove winning outfielder Kevin Kiermaier can gun down a runner from straight-away center while fellow outfielder and teammate Steven Souza Jr. won’t be able to his own as a defensive liability.
In addition to the improved realism that the game portrays, there seems to be more emphasis on offense than in previous years. In an exhibition matchup between the San Diego Padres and the Boston Red Sox, Big Papi ripped a three-run shot over the center-field fence to give them a 3-0 lead. The game resulted in a 5-1 victory for the Sox but the one eye-popping aspect that stood out was the enhanced mechanics. Whether if it was Wil Myers fluid swing at the plate or the sound delivery of David Price on the mound, the aesthetically pleasing authenticity pitch-by-pitch provides pleasure to the eye.
This game is flat out gorgeous, to the point where one of our other friends thought it was a real-life game. Unlike game’s past, the players’ faces are honed to the tiniest details, from Yoenis Cespedes’ tiny soul patch to Lucas Duda’s weird batting stance. Ballparks are rendered majestically as well, as Yankee stadium is portrayed with its wide open center field and Fenway Park is fitted with a detailed depiction of its classic manual scoreboard. (Though we couldn’t help but laugh at some of the fake advertisements used on the Green Monster, such as Gravel Town.) Moving forward, it wouldn’t hurt to put in some ads for authenticity purposes but the game does not have a lack of authenticity by any means. In a video game age where looks are everything, MLB: The Show 16 does not disappoint.
For those with a little GM in them, Dynasty Mode is the perfect setup. Though not a new feature by any means, the mode is one where one can take control of the day-to-day operations of a current general manager in the league. One of the perks of this mode is how difficult you can make your GM experience. Yet, choose wisely when selecting the difficulty. If you put it on veteran mode, you might run into some troubles trying to maintain a good record but if you decide to make it easier on yourself with beginner mode, the question in regards to the quality of your management skills will come into play.
The one missing piece to any great sports game is Ultimate Team. It provides the gamer an opportunity to build and showcase a fantasy team without having to use the standard ESPN or MLB.com formats. While playing more games, a coin incentive is given based on the performance in online or single player matchups. Eventually, those coin incentives can lead to the purchase or a new player, logo, manager, contract to extend your player’s tenure, etc. This feature has become a prominent one in EA sports game giants such as FIFA and Madden and can be an integral part of future for this particular franchise.