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MLB 10 (03/12)
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March 12, 2010

MLB 10

The Show Review

by Marc Normandin

One thing that you can depend on with Sony's MLB: The Show franchise is that it will deliver an entry worth purchasing each season, even if you aren't the kind of person to buy every edition of a sports game. Each year, Sony's San Diego studio releases the best version of the game—this isn't a mere roster update, as customer criticisms are addressed without compromising the offers of the previous games—by adding on to what, at its core, is the best baseball game on the market—if you aren't familiar with The Show, check out reviews from the past two years to get a feel for the core game.

What The Show strives to do each season—and it gets closer every year—is to provide you with an experience as authentic as watching a game on your television. If it happens in the games, then chances are good that it happens in the latest edition of The Show. New to the game this year are real-time presentations: a broadcast camera is employed, so now everything is in real-time. If the camera pans to the dugout or bullpen, you will see interactions and movements of the players and coaches like you would on television, not static or robotic AI characters sitting around. Since the same engine is used for these moments in real-time as in gameplay—there's no disconnect between cut scenes after a play and plays anymore—everything moves fluidly and fits in realistically. Players no longer just stand around dumbly after a play is completed, as they continue to walk around, toss the ball—there are over 1,250 new gameplay animations to go along with 400 additional personalized pitcher and batter animations. This from a series that already prided itself on a successful replication of player movement. You will also notice improvements to the slow-motion replays, as players do not move around as awkwardly as in previous editions of the game—motions are much smoother and keep you immersed in the experience more in MLB 10.

These additional animations allow for more realistic fielding as well, as you will now see more varied outcomes for balls in play. There are more choppers this year, and dives where you miss the ball will follow real physics: you'll see it kicked, deflected, or smothered by the player's body as it should be. The physics logic is not the only thing to see improvements, as the AI reacts better to run downs now, and fielders seem to only field as well as their attributes allow them to—while not a problem in the past, you can see the difference between last year's fielders and this year's when you play.


You will also see more realism in the stadiums and in the overall experience of a game. Previous editions of the show used day-to-night transitional lighting for afternoon games, but now there is also daytime transitional lighting, meaning you will notice the sun's position and the length of shadows shifting as 1 p.m. starts move toward 4 p.m. finishes. This is a subtle change, but it enhances that feeling that you're doing more than playing a video game. In a game that has already delivered a very tight, very realistic baseball simulation experience, these additional changes are welcome. You will get to experience this in 11 new parks as well, with five new minor-league parks in addition to six classic locales (Forbes Field, Crosley Field, the Polo Grounds, Shibe Park, Sportsman Park, and Griffith Stadium).

The realism also extends to umpires, as they have their own personalities. You can turn this feature on or off, but it keeps things fresh when you have to determine whether or not an ump is calling the high or outside strikes, as that matters to both hitters (you don't want to be caught looking, do you?) and pitchers (you want to freeze someone with that Glavine-esque boost to the zone they are giving you—you know it).

The three-man announcing team of Matt Vasgersian, Rex Hudler, and Dave Campbell continues to excel. Progressive commentary allows for the chaining of topics and events occurring in the game, which makes the audio commentary sound more like conversation than simply pre-recorded, canned lines. You will hear Campbell or Hudler talking about specific moments that occurred in the game and how they relate to the current situation—I'm paraphrasing but, "He breezed through the early innings with a low pitch count, but the hitters are working the count here in the fifth," or, in reference to a line drive at the pitcher's head, "I'll tell you what, that pitcher is 6-foot-4... if he was 6-foot-6, he would have lost his head. Chuck and duck!" This helps the broadcast feel significantly more realistic, and it also means you will hear repeated lines far less often.

The core experience of The Show is the Road to the Show mode (commonly referred to as RTTS). This is what helped to separate Sony's MLB offering from the rest of the pack, and they have a head start on the competition because they have been doing it for so long. In RTTS, you create a player and set their attributes, and then you are either drafted or select a team you want to play for. You play in Double-A, Triple-A and the majors, fighting for playing time and contracts in order to become a major-leaguer and, if you play your cards right, a storied career you can play to its completion.


The central experience is similar to past iterations, but that's a good thing. You are given goals by your manager within games—say you're a pitcher, you would hear things like, "The leadoff man is up to start the fifth inning—get ahead in the count," or "There's a runner on first with one out—get a ground ball out here." By successfully completing these goals, you earn points that you can spend on your player in order to enhance their abilities. Don't worry though, if you get a fly-ball out when your manager requested a ground-ball out, you won't be punished—you will earn points for a "Positive Result." You also pick up points for your performance overall, so if you strike out five in a game, you get some points. Keep your ERA to a certain level (this scales, so 0.00, 3.00, 6.00) over a certain number of innings, and you earn some points.

You can spend these points however you like, but be warned—your manager also has goals for you to reach over the course of a few weeks. Maybe you're a third baseman who can hit, but you field poorly—your manager may want you to spend time working on your arm accuracy or arm strength, or maybe reaction time. Maybe you want to increase your power, but having power won't matter if your manager is upset with you and benches you and your poor fielding. This can become frustrating on occasion, but unless you fail your goals three times in a row you probably won't lose your starting gig or see a demotion, either, so there's some leeway.

To help you score some extra bonuses, The Show added training drills for you to complete during the season. These drills return in 2010, but with a few more to help you out as well. There are now pitching and fielding training exercises as well as hitting ones—for fielding, you can work on throwing with the new throw meter (the closer you are to perfect timing, the more accurate and powerful your throw will be) or practice your defensive decisions. For pitchers, the training is a bit more fun, as you get Knockout (aim your pitches at different zones in the strike zone in order to "knock out" that zone) and Simulated Game, which you should be able to figure out the meaning of. These are great for adding some extra zing, control, or break to your repertoire, all without sacrificing your precious training points.

Exclusive to MLB 10 is the new catcher RTTS. As the catcher, you can call all of the pitch types and pitch locations for your staff, and also block pitches in the dirt to keep passed balls and wild pitches from getting through. It's not as simple as picking a spot and letting your pitcher hit all of them, though, as, just like in real life, the guy on the mound isn't necessarily going to do what you want him to with every pitch. Things will go awry, and you will need to formulate a plan to get each hitter out. Expect to learn a lot about what works and what doesn't on every count possible. The added bonus to this is emotional investment—yes, the pitcher can screw up, but there are also times where you will call the wrong pitch and then have to watch a shot into the bleachers, and subsequently feel the responsibility of that hiked up ERA of your teammate. That's on you, Mr. Backstop, and you'll have to learn from your own mistakes in order to form a working relationship.

Maybe you don't want to play RTTS though—there's still plenty for you to do. The All-Star break gives you not just the All-Star Game, but also the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Futures game. You don't have to play a season to enjoy the derby, as you can play at any time from the main menu, but it's very satisfying to see your created player reach either the derby or the Futures Game on merit. Online play has been improved significantly—whereas the past two editions had some problems as far as connections and the like go, Sony has done a better job of matching up Internet connections in order to provide smoother, faster experiences for everyone.

You don't have to play just exhibition games online, though, as you can play a full season online. You have 40-man rosters, trades, and everything else you would expect from a single-player mode at home, but now you can do all of that online with real people. You don't have to be around to play every single game, either, as matchups can be simulated, just like in single-player franchise or season modes.

Rosters will be updated weekly via the PlayStation Network, so you don't have to worry about the rosters being out of date following spring training, or the trade deadline, or any time of the year. There will also be updates to attributes throughout the year, so that breakout or declining players will be treated as such, even virtually.

As proven by previous editions of The Show, this franchise has the best core gameplay available on the market. The fact that Sony continues to add to the game by overhauling modes that don't work, improving those that do, and giving you even more to do and experiment with is an added bonus. Of course, these improvements are not meant to alienate those familiar with the series.  If you're familiar with and comfortable with previous control schemes, they are available—hate the new baserunning controls? Switch to a different setup that you're used to. The fact that you don't have to re-learn the game each year is a positive that some other sports franchises could learn from. When you combine the core gameplay with the fourth edition of Road to the Show, online leagues, improved online functionality, the most authentic and realistic baseball experience on the market, and a series of updates that will ensure the game reflects reality as best as it can, you have yourself the best baseball game on the market.

Grade: A-

MLB 10: The Show is available on the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, and PlayStation 2 systems. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version, which retails for $59.99 and was released on March 2, 2010. Developed by Sony Computer Entertainment America, San Diego, and published by SCEA.

 A grading system of F, D, C, B, A, with applicable plus/minus, is used at Blast Magazine. Games scored with an "A" are considered elite, must-buys.  

22 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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For those of you who would like to try a great baseball management game for the PC/Mac, google "Out of the Park Baseball 10". It has no animated player models but gets the simulation/management part done much better than any console game. Plus, it has all past seasons from 1901 through 2009 included... I love that game, it's my favorite baseball game ever.

Mar 12, 2010 08:55 AM
rating: -41
BP staff member Dave Pease
BP staff

The parent message is brought to you by the developers of Out of the Park Baseball.

Mar 12, 2010 10:05 AM

Shouldn't that type of comment be ummm ... removed?

Mar 12, 2010 10:16 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Dave Pease
BP staff

Perhaps! Who knows, maybe readers will like the game--feel free to search for it and check it out as far as I'm concerned.

But "I love that game, it's my favorite baseball game ever"... come on, that's like me saying "I love Baseball Prospectus, it's my favorite baseball website ever" on some other site.

Caveat searchor, and if you don't think the response was strong enough, feel free to use your comment rating abilities accordingly!

Mar 12, 2010 10:20 AM

Every spring when The Show comes out it makes me regret buying an Xbox.

Mar 12, 2010 08:56 AM
rating: 8

i find the show so difficult due to its realism. i did the "road to the show" feature and hit like .205.

Mar 12, 2010 09:13 AM
rating: 1

I hit sth like .460 in my player's career w/0 save and loading except one time when I broke my hitting streak in the major because you get a huge bonus when you break record in the Show.
It is so real that you have to wait for good pitch to turn on. Always wait for the pitch you are most comfortable with - for me, either a curveball or a fastball - and kill any pitches in the middle of the zone. I hate two seamer and sinker though, for whatever reason I swing and miss on them instead of just beating it to the ground.

Mar 12, 2010 10:15 AM
rating: 1

Marc, any chance you could review MLB 2k10? It's too bad 'The Show'isn't available on Xbox or else I'd buy this in a heartbeat.

Mar 12, 2010 09:16 AM
rating: 3
Marc Normandin

I'll see if I can snag a copy from 2K. Worst case I'll rent one., in the interests of fair and even reporting.

Mar 12, 2010 15:04 PM
rating: 0

The franchise mode is awesome, but I hate that it doesn't keep track of stats other than the basics year after year. It becomes a real problem when I want to sign a free agent in 2014 only to find out that he doesn't walk at all.

Mar 12, 2010 09:40 AM
rating: 0
Ehren Bendler

I agree with this, and this is something a review posted at BP should really ding them for. You gotta have more than OPS, ERA, and WHIP in 2010. Even the really, really bad 2K games (looking at you MLB 2K9) had WARP and VORP.

Mar 12, 2010 19:59 PM
rating: -1
Marc Normandin

The percentage of the population that actually cares about advanced stats--even the kind we think of as basic--is very, very minimal. There's a reason The Show is built with advanced stats but uses traditional ones in its presentation: in order to create an accurate experience that reflects the game the mainstream wants to see. Please remember that's coming from someone who writes for BP and despises traditional statistics. ESPN, just last year, tried to introduce OPS to their television audience. OPS is something the stats community considers a dried up, used husk of a stat at this point, but it's exciting and new to the mainstream.

I wish they would show triple slash stats, but it's not something I'm going to reduce their grade significantly for given the circumstances. There are much more pressing matters, like whether the game is an authentic replication of baseball, or whether it actually works or not, something the competition is just now getting a handle on.

Mar 12, 2010 21:28 PM
rating: 0

is there any chance this will also be on PC's?

Mar 12, 2010 10:21 AM
rating: 0
Marc Normandin

No, it's a Sony property, so it will remain on Sony systems. It's a console seller.

Mar 12, 2010 12:16 PM
rating: 0

I don't find the hitting too hard at all. Love The Show.

Mar 12, 2010 10:39 AM
rating: -1

I would certainly appreciate a MLB 2k10 review as well. I have not played baseball video games for ten plus years but continue to play NBA 2K games and like the NBA Today feature and I understand that will occur in MLB 2K10 as well.

I am thinking of trying something new but only care about individual game options because I will never be able to play RTTS.

Mar 12, 2010 10:39 AM
rating: -1

I agree that this is an awesome game, but I imagine catcher mode will be gone next year. It just flat out takes too long in rtts, especially since AA pitchers are so inconsistent. You either have to sim most games and pray for luck or bite the bullet and play 100+ hours a season.

Mar 12, 2010 10:49 AM
rating: 0

Also, wouldn't be so bad but I can't find a way to turn it off.

Mar 12, 2010 10:50 AM
rating: 0
Brock Dahlke

The only negative thing I can say about this game is that it has really knocked my social life down a notch.

Mar 12, 2010 11:19 AM
rating: 3

Sorry, but this review reads like a Sony one-sheet or something. Any negatives, or anything to explain the A- rating? I'd like to hear 'em.

Mar 13, 2010 11:25 AM
rating: 1

Anybody else notice the 1st screenshot is a brilliant diving stop by Todd Helton on a hot grounder by...teammate Carlos Gonzalez?

Mar 14, 2010 16:49 PM
rating: 2


Actually, it's a bug that the software still has. When you're watching a replay (or the highlights at the end of a game) the scoreboards keep showing the score at the time of the play that's active. For example, in the the case of the Helton's screenshot, that was obviously a play that ended an inning, Carlos Gonzalez was leading-off for the Rockies, and the user was watching the replay after the play ended the inning.

One of the little things the Sony-San Diego based studios still need to work on, as the annoying "run through a player, like a ghost through a wall" thing.

Otherwise, the game is a must-have for a baseball fan.

Carlos José

Mar 16, 2010 11:51 AM
rating: 0
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