MLB The Show 16 Review: The Grass is Greener
Chad Whitney / Apr 4th, 2016 No Comments
If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
Unlike most sports simulations over the years, MLB The Show has very few broken parts, but that hasn’t stopped developers at San Diego Studios from working to improve on what earned them a monopoly on the MLB licensed market. Exclusive to PlayStation 4, MLB The Show 16 utilizes Sony’s current-gen console to the max, taking advantage of the system’s power to craft the most immersive experience to date.
Real or Fake?
One of the most important things in a sports simulation is presentation. Presentation sets the atmosphere and tone of the game, and in The Show 16, the presentation is top tier.
The design team improved textures and amplified the colors, providing unmatched detail. The grass is literally greener, the lighting is impeccable, and stadiums are as authentic as ever. Wrigley Field, for example, has a totally different vibe than in previous years. The new video boards and exuberant fans bring a rejuvenated feel to the Friendly Confines. That could be because the Chicago Cubs have what could be the team’s best product on the field in decades, but an updated atmosphere goes beyond stadium-specific upgrades. Every stadium seems to have more energy. From minor league ballparks to major league cathedrals and even classic stadiums, the fields all seem to have a unique identity of their own.
In addition to the graphics, the Sounds of The Show round out the overall presentation. Crowd noise continues to hold up, but where The Show 16 differs is that it allows players to create custom cheers and jeers. Simply record a short clip and upload it to a flash drive for easy importing into the game.
The game’s soundtrack is extremely limited, but players can add music from their personal library to the game. Yes, that means custom soundtracks have finally arrived on the PS4 version of MLB The Show. It’s understandable that limiting the original soundtrack allows the developers to allocate their assets to more important things like gameplay, but broadening the soundtrack a little would have been nice.
The Show 16 is far more than just a graphical upgrade and roster update. There are some gameplay tweaks and new game modes that add to the game’s depth. Diamond Dynasty, the trading card mode à la EA Sports Ultimate Team, has received two new game modes: Battle Royale and Conquest mode.
In Battle Royale, players draft 25 players for their team, aiming to win as many games as possible before losing two games. Those familiar with Madden 16’s new Draft Champions mode may recognize this formula, but where Battle Royale differs is that after losing, players must spend Stubs to play again. Stubs are earned in game by simply playing consistently, but can also be purchased through micro-transactions.
On the other hand, Conquest is an awesome hybrid of Diamond Dynasty and Civilization-style strategy. The objective is to expand your team’s market by taking over territories. Things get interesting when two neighboring franchises have their eye set on the same territory. That’s when teams face off in head-to-head matchups.
As far as in-game additions, the most notable new feature is Showtime, which is used exclusively in Road to the Show. Showtime is a meter that when filled allows players to slow down time during crucial plays. This makes plays like diving stops, clutch hits and even big pitches more intense and immersive. Each variety of Showtime usage has its own cost, making players think twice about when and how to use the ability.
Also in Road to the Show is the Bowman Scouting Combine. This is where players display their skills before playing two games against other prospects. Many fans will be happy to know that the difficulty is far more balanced now. It’s highly suggested that players use the progressive difficulty. Not only does it offer the most appropriate chance at success, but it helps teach the player how to succeed.
Meanwhile, Franchise Mode now has a more rewarding progression system, giving near instant validation to users looking to develop their young core.
The most common criticism of sports games is that each annual release is nothing more than a $60 roster update. It’s difficult to continue to provide a quality product worth buying at full price, but MLB The Show 16 is much more than a roster update. In fact, San Diego Studios knocked this one out of the park.
A revamped presentation makes MLB The Show 16 much more realistic. However, the biggest improvement may be with the game’s servers. Despite a hiccup at launch, the improved servers make online modes like Diamond Dynasty far more appealing. The game is a must-buy for any baseball fan who owns a PlayStation 4, and may be worth buying a console for those who don’t own one.
tags: baseball , MLB The Show 16 , MLB The Show 16 Review , review , The Show 16