Kia Ora! I’m slowing things down this week and taking a closer look at a game that may well be completely off your radar unless you’re a big fan of “America’s Past-time”. This time around, I’m looking at the 2019 edition of MLB – The Show, available exclusively on the PlayStation 4.
My knowledge of baseball could be described at best as: extremely limited. Mind you, so is my knowledge of Golf, and I still get pulled in by those games all the time. However, I do know this much: When I was in high school in 1994, I wore a Toronto Blue-jays baseball cap almost everywhere I went. I thought it was really cool, but I couldn’t tell you for the life of me how I got it. One of my classmates asked me if I could name a single player in the team, and I couldn’t, so he told me the name of one player – Roberto Alomar, because, and I quote:
“Dave, if you’re gonna wear the hat, you need to be able to name at least one player” – you now have the extent of my in-depth knowledge of baseball, I kid you not.
So, it was with some trepidation that I fired up this title. Would it be forgiving to someone, like myself, who had a tenuous grip on the general rules at best, and only a single piece of trivia up his sleeve? I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it actually was very forgiving for a complete novice like myself.
Your initial game allows you to try out multiple modes for pitching and batting, and you can select whether you want to be involved in the running and catching component of the game at all – I chose to automate these, because, you know, noob and all. It made getting into the game a remarkably simple affair, and one that has an enjoyable rhythm to it once you settle in.
You get your pick of major league teams, and of course I picked the Blue Jays, and whilst Alomar is now well retired, it still felt nice to go up, pitch some innings and knock a few out of the park.
Naturally, there are a plethora of game modes for you to choose from – you can roll a character and take yourself from the minor leagues all the way to the show, or you can relive some of the greatest moments in the history of baseball, as well as launch a team online, or even focus on managing a team and not actually do any of the work on the mound. It’s a dizzying array of game modes, experiences and different ways to play Baseball.
I think that my biggest challenge about it is that beyond a very basic knowledge of the game, I found it difficult to get invested in MLB 19. Now, that’s not the games fault, that’s just me accepting that I’ll never be as into this as an ardent fan of the sport. Whilst the game can be highly tailored for all skill levels, you can see that it is a labour of love and aimed squarely at people who live & breathe baseball.
Now, even though I can’t see myself sinking a couple hundred hours into this game, I can utterly respect what’s been put together here. Details and atmospheric touches are abound, and the feeling of hitting a home run when you come up to bat is just the best. There’s so much content, so many options to customise your character if you’re going to start your own road to the world series, and every game mode is just one or two button pushes away. It’s excellently constructed and I must commend the San Diego Studio.
Road to the Show gets a special mention here. It’s almost a RPG game, if that were possible in a baseball game. Build your character, start in the minors, get scouted and make it into the big leagues. But, every step along the way, you interact with your team, with scouts, with pretty much everyone. It feels a lot like the conversation trees in the Witcher games, but, y’know, for baseball.
This one gets an 8.3 from me. It’s a good game, and if I were more into baseball, it could become my sports game of choice. I undeniably know more about it than I used to, after just a few hours with this game, and that’s reflective of the quality of this title.