MLB The Show makes it to the Warning Track but struggles to make it over the fence for a Home Run.
That highlighted sentence is the best way to describe this AAA title Baseball game. As an Xbox/PC person, I’ve never been able to play MLB The Show. So I was super excited to hear that it will finally be available on Xbox. Once I finally finished downloading the game, I garbed some peanuts and cracked open an ice-cooled beer to set the mood. Once settled in, I started the game and let the world of baseball take me over.
Being a beginner, I made an effort to go through the whole tutorial to get a feel for this game and not make myself look like a fool. I’m glad I did because the tutorial was terrific. Each thing had an in-depth explanation of how you play the game. The tutorial ran you through fielding, batting, base running, and pitching, and each category had multiple ways to play them. With the option to try each one, I could pick the methods that worked best for me and felt confident that I could join an online game and compete instantly.
After the tutorial, I made my way over to the Dynasty Mode. With similarity to Ultimate Team in FIFA 21 and MyTeam in NBA 2K21, I knew this game mode would be fun. Like in Fifa 21 and NBA 2k21, you get your starting roster of cards and then grow from there as you complete challenges and play in games offline or Online. Since I was new, I didn’t want to embarrass myself right away, so I jumped on an offline game and easily cruised to a 3-1 victory.
Once I won my offline game, I felt confident to jump online, especially with my new Barry Larkin card in center field. This game started just as smoothed as the offline one until a minor error on my part put 4 runs on the board for the other team. The funny part was I wasn’t even mad this game did what it was supposed to do, It mimicked real life. I made an error with my pitching and was punished and ended up going downhill from there. After going 7 innings, allowing 1 run, I ended the game at 12-1 due to inconstant pitching and silly mistakes.
Dynasty mode featured so many cards and made it reasonably easy to navigate the menu to trade and sell items. The only issue I had with the menu was when I first got the run-down on how it all worked. It was throwing me all over the place, making me feel like I was in control of the menu, and then I couldn’t do anything. Once the game finished telling me how to do everything in dynasty mode, the game freed up and worked flawlessly.
Now I know what everyone is thinking, how is this game not a home run based on what I’ve put down so far. If the review were only on Dynasty mode, it would get a 5-star rating in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, this game has multiple modes, and let’s say that some of these modes land a little too far outside the batter’s box.
Career Mode is where I found most of my troubles. I know that this game is a stand-alone Baseball game and doesn’t have major Companies like 2k and EA to help develop its major aspects. If you were to compare this career mode to games like NBA 2k or NFL Maddens career modes, you could give this mode a 3 star at best. Luckily for The Show, I know that it’s not coming from EA or 2K and that some of the other modes are so well done that I can cut their career mode a little slack.
It was time to jump into MLB’s The Shows Career Mode for the first time, and I was ready to feel like a baseball player again. The first thing you do is create your player and let me say this was the best part of Career Mode. The customizability was terrific, and I made my player look like me to the best of my ability. Once I finished making my player, I added my player skills and quickly started my career.
The first thing that happens is a cut scene of you on the phone. Now I’m thinking, wow, this is looking just like NBA 2k21, and I was ready for an entertaining and exciting story mode on top of fun gameplay. That excitement quickly fizzled out when I found out that the voice acting was only one person talking about you and the options you can choose. So my thought process was okay, so the cut scenes and Dialog aren’t like 2k games, but maybe the gameplay will make up for it.
Sadly I was wrong. I played through the process of deciding if my player was going to be a fielder or a pitcher, and let’s just say my fielding was awful. Now I know that my skills aren’t the best as a new player, but every time I fielded a ball, I found myself throwing the ball off-target or not even throwing it at all, even if I did everything perfectly. I chalked it up to inexperience and thought, well, maybe ill get better. I didn’t; the controls just weren’t there, and the fact that there wasn’t much of a tutorial was disappointing, especially since there was such an in-depth tutorial on how to play a regular game in a normal game mode or dynasty mode.
There was a light at the end of the tunnel when I got to hit and pitch, but the fielding aspect of the game was so unbearable that it left a bad taste in my mouth, and I decided to move on to another mode. This was when I invited my brother over to try out the retro mode along with the Home Run derby because baseball is always better with friends and family.
Retro mode caught me off guard a little bit because I know MLB The Show has been around a while but not long enough to be retro. I was intrigued right from the start, and now, with someone to play with, it was the first thing we hoped into. My brother and I grew up playing Ken Griffey Jr Baseball on the Nintendo 64. Right before we started up retro mode, we looked at each other. We said, what if it’s like Ken Griffey Jr. Once we picked out teams and stadium to play at, we were surprised to hear Ken Griffey’s voice introduce Retro mode, and I’m not going to lie we were like two little kids again and ready to play some Ken Griffey Jr Baseball again.
Unfortunately, that gameplay wasn’t really on key with Ken Griffey Jr on the N64, and to be honest, I don’t know if it was supposed to, but it was just nice to hear Ken’s voice again and relive those unforgettable memories. So even though the gameplay was kind of off, I still give the retro mode a big thumbs up for bringing back some memories.
Home Run Derby
The Home Run Derby was where this game shined. Once I started playing the Derby, I was hooked and ended up playing for hours, just blasting balls over the fence. The best part was the selection of the players, including some of the oldies. You could play with endless amounts of combos and figure out who is the best to send them out of the park. It’s great to play alone and even greater to play with friends. The home run derby was by far my favorite part of the game, and I recommend anyone second-guessing this game to try the Home Run Derby and just let them fly.
Other Game Modes
Obviously, there are other game modes in MLB The Show, like simple Exhibition Match or March to October. I didn’t want to go deep into these modes since they are just simple click-and-play game type modes, but they are both very enjoyable and easy to just hop on and play—especially the March to October. Nothing is more fun than jumping straight into the playoff race and not having to play a long season just to find out you missed the playoffs.
Overall, MLB The Show performed to its expectation. It was a hit on and off the field and was very enjoyable to play. I wouldn’t say that it was a Home Run because of the swing and miss that was the career mode. Also, the retro mode was fun because of Ken Griffey, but it just wasn’t feeling super retro once you started playing. The other game modes like Dynasty mode and the Home Run Derby stuck out to me and made this game the best baseball game I have ever played.
That being said, I still can’t give it the 5-star rating that so many people think it deserves, but I can easily give it a 4 Star with the chance of it improving as the game develops further down the road. That is the best part about these sports games. You will keep seeing improvements in the game, with a new one coming out every year. Hopefully, it will continue to come out on Xbox Game Pass because I still have trouble spending $60 on a game that pretty much came out the year before, unless there is a dramatic change that completely flips the game around.