MLB The Show 18, from San Diego Studios, is still by far the best baseball game for next generation video-game systems. It definitely helps, that it is also the ONLY simulation Baseball title left standing, in the world of virtual baseball on consoles.
SD studios, the creators of MLB 18 for Playstation 4, have nailed baseball – for the last 5 years – but once again, it is getting extremely hard to make really amazing “game-changing” alterations to an already great-playing baseball game.
The player faces are getting better. The game controls have not changed, so if you were good at last year’s game, you are most likely good at this one. There is a small learning curve – which can be good or bad depending on who you are.
The physics are much better, the devs boast hundreds of new tag types, which is actually noticeable, and the fielding is much better/responsive. On the whole the game feels much more responsive when hitting and fielding. The game seems faster as well, swings are not so slow and feel much better than the previous year’s. You actually feel like you are swinging above water instead of below it!
Diving is vastly improved from MLB 17, they finally fixed the issue of not being far enough away from a ball, or being too close when diving (and failing). Now the fielders have some “AI” and know when to dive, slide or just reach when you press the button. This is a huge improvement. I completed 3 or 4 dives/stops/reaches in one game, whereas in MLB 17, I could go 10-20 games without successfully completing a diving catch. This is an improvement but still the physics have a ways to go, there are STILL no collisions between players as far as I could tell.
Franchise mode is back, albeit offline only (see below). There are new functions including dividing the season into sections to make it more manageable. On the whole this is one of the most complete franchise modes in any sports game today. They dressed it up a bit this year but the basic ideas remain the same.
The most important, to me, glaring omission, from this year’s version was the complete REMOVAL of Online Franchise Mode. I repeat, there is no Online Franchise Mode in MLB 18 (multi-user leagues online). This was a crushing blow to me, and my online baseball league (that is still active and playing MLB 17). Last year, as many of you know, the servers for MLB were atrociously bad, and the online portion of the game was pretty much unplayable online for about 2 months beyond release. That is just a fact. We had a league ready to go, we tried our hardest to make it work, stuck with it, 30 of us, but after a few months of attempting to play games and failing (blue screen errors, establishing connection forever, or disconnecting 3 innings into any game, etc) we all gave up. The league fell apart and I did not end up playing MLB 17 online at all, until a few weeks ago when spring training started up – and with it, renewed interest in baseball.
After searching twitter – the company stated that the reason for omitting Online Franchise was that it was the least played game mode, and they supplied a screenshot of the games played last year. Granted 81 million games of Road to The Show were played last year when compared to 493,000 games of Online Franchise. But who knows really what those numbers would have looked like, if the SDS servers actually worked properly. A long time ago NHL from EA Sports had an online franchise mode that was completely broken, so broken you couldn’t even start a league or create a schedule, and it was also removed, one year later, never to be seen again in the NHL franchise.
Retro mode is back – It is a good 2 player couch-competition mode, as it is very easy to pick up and play, for your casual friends who don’t know all the controls to The Show, and haven’t played a baseball video game in 10+ years…
Road to the Show was the one mode that I was incredibly interested in this year, after seeing that SD studios had added RPG, story, and decision-making elements into the game. It is definitely improved, there is a narrator now with more cut scenes (less reading!) and actual decisions to make and even player archetypes. One improvement that I really do like is that now you progress your player by actually doing the task required, not just collecting currency and dispersing it into your character as you see fit. Also your player attributes are capped out this year depending on your player type (similar to NBA) so making a player that is rated 99, in both pitching and batting, is now impossible. I like this idea – but some of you who prefer playing with their own Superman might hate it.
Diamond Dynasty is a mode I don’t really play, and since the servers are not running yet, it is hard to review something I have not played yet… I have been playing a lot more in MLB 17 lately and look forward to opening packs and collecting my team. I just hope there are more options this year for the offline player. I was not a huge fan of the “Conquest”/Risk style mode that DD has been using for the last few years…
To summarize, MLB The Show 18 is the best baseball video game money can buy. If you like baseball, have never played The Show (or have not played it in the last 3-5 years)
than this will be a mind-blowingly good baseball video game, to you. It is a ridiculously accurate portrayal of the real sport – and the controls are done really well.
If you are an avid MLB The Show player, and bought the game last year, you will notice a difference – but only slightly – its faster, and the hits feel a little better. The ball physics is on-point and when you hit a hard liner, it curves a little as it interacts with the air around it. It feels good to rake in this game, just not sure if that is enough for you to take the plunge and buy it this year.