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MLB: The Show 22 Game review

Game review 06 April 2022, 15:00

author: Giancarlo Saldana

Giancarlo Saldana has been covering video games and tech for over a decade for publications like 1UP, GamesRadar, TechRadar, MacLife, Blast Magazine, and more. Twitter: @giansaldana

MLB The Show 22 Review: Designated Hitter

The start of baseball season is here and with it comes the new MLB The Show 22. Is this the best baseball sim out there you should be playing or is it more of the same?

The review is based on the PS5 version. It's also relevant to XSX, XONE, PS4, Switch version(s).

It’s crazy to think that the fate of Major League Baseball was up in the air a few months ago. There was a lot of uncertainty, but after some agreements and handshakes, America’s favorite pastime was back on — even if it is late by a few weeks. Despite the lockout, nothing could stop San Diego Studio’s successful franchise from releasing on time as expected because, after all, the “Show” must go on.

And just like that, April is here, opening day is this week, and a new MLB The Show is here to give fans more of what they have come to know from a franchise that has no rival. Over the years, the series has gradually grown and tweaked all aspects of its gameplay — from fielding responsiveness to how you can pitch a ball. Each year’s Show adds new features or tweaks some aspect of its gameplay or controls to give you a more authentic MLB experience while still retaining everything from the previous year. The Show 22 is no different, but here is all the good and meh you can expect this season.

Notable Updates

For the first time since its debut on the PlayStation 2, The Show is now available on Microsoft and Nintendo consoles and features crossplay and cross-progression. This is an impressive feat, but realistically may not apply to you unless you have multiple consoles and feel the urge to own the game on each one of them. Though, the idea of playing a few innings in bed on your Switch sounds pretty sweet.

PROS:
  1. A refined, solid baseball simulator;
  2. March to October offers more versatility;
  3. Plenty of accessibility options for players of all levels.
CONS:
  1. Road the Show and Franchise mode feel unchanged;
  2. Dated textures and visuals still exist;
  3. Subtle changes to last year’s edition.

Crossplay leads to some small issues when taking things online as you can notice more lag than usual when you are in games with players from other consoles. This disrupts the flow of the game as it can lead to some laggy pitches and some questionable framerate drops at certain points. During Early Access weekend, I could barely complete an inning without getting disconnected so hopefully these server issues ease up in the coming days. The game also now adds online co-op letting you play 2 vs. 2 or 3 vs. 3 games with friends or random people. It’s a fun addition letting you take turns with your partner, but it’s nothing too exciting.

This new exposure also means the game hits a wider audience than it ever has before, and you can tell right away that the game is tailored to players of all skill levels just by looking at how accessible it is. New difficulty modes, Amateurs and Minors, which lie above Beginner but below Rookie, are great at easing players into the intricacies of the game while still allowing you to select a Dynamic difficulty that gets more tough as you get better. Previous gameplay options are also back letting you hit or bat how you want.

Last year saw the introduction of Pinpoint Pitching, which is still available if you want a more realistic way of throwing the ball, but this year’s addition of PCI Anchors is a lot more practical. Now you can lock your PCI in place to where you want if you play when selecting Zone hitting. This puts less tension on your left stick and lets you catch up specific types of pitches you anticipate from the opposing pitcher.

Your ears will also pick up the voices of a brand new commentary team that replace series veteran Matt Vasgersian and newcomer Mark DeRosa with Jon Sciambi and Chris Singleton. San Diego Studio says the new team has recorded over 45,000 lines of dialogue, but we already started hearing some lines repeat within a few days of playing. The good thing, though, is that the new lines feel like a breath of fresh air for a game that has sounded the same every year. Sciambi and Singleton bring some much-welcomed insight, humor, and personality to a commentary track that had been getting stale.

Solid Offerings

Besides these notable additions, the rest of The Show feels a lot like last year’s game. You still have the same modes like Retro Mode, Homerun Derby, Stadium Creator, and Daily Challenges so there is plenty to keep you busy. There are also noticeable tweaks here and there that provide a smooth experience, and for the only MLB game out there this year, you should expect nothing less than the best.

VERDICT:

Each year’s Show adds new features or tweaks some aspect of its gameplay or controls to give you a more authentic MLB experience while still retaining everything from the previous year. If you have never played a series installment before, MLB The Show 22 is the best baseball simulator you will ever play. If you played last year’s Show, however, it will feel like deja vu.

March to October is actually a lot more fun to play now as it doesn’t just feel like a watered down version of Franchise mode, which sadly doesn’t feel any different from last year. This mode has always been about highlighting the best of the season and letting you play through it much more quickly than in Franchise, and now you can also play through multiple seasons and off-seasons.

Even the money-hungry Diamond Dynasty makes it feel more easy to get into with the addition of Mini Seasons that let you play in a truncated league for a shorter season to win it at your own difficulty. The draw of Diamond Dynasty has always been about completing missions and challenges to win rarer baseball cards to assemble a team capable of defeating players online or the CPU. Now, you can do it more quickly and still feel like you are getting something out of it all.

As before, Hall of Fame cards are also available letting you build even more powerful teams, but caveat emptor — if you don’t want to gamble and spend time playing through seasons for that elusive pack, it will cost you real money. The issue with this mode has always been its monetization angle as players can essentially sell rare cards for whatever they want leading to a seemingly unfair pay-to-win experience. Even if you don’t invest anything extra in it, though, you can still enjoy the challenges and joys of building your own deck.

More of the Same

Sadly, Road to the Show doesn’t feel as impressive as it did last year. Sure, there is some new video commentary in between your player’s games that narrate his road to stardom, and you can now create multiple ballplayers, but even the opening cutscene is recycled from last year’s, making you question what has changed this year if anything. It’s still a fun mode letting you create your player and managing all aspects of his career from playing games, to training, to perfecting your stats, but so much more could have been done when you compare to it a game like NBA 2K22’s immersive MyCareer mode.

Visually, the game also doesn’t look noticeably different, but you can appreciate some updated textures that make the action on the field feel as realistic as it can possibly get. You can actually see the fabric tugs on uniforms tug as players run! It’s these little details that make the game pop, but if you look around enough you’ll also notice some outdated textures and grass that looks pretty bad. Player models look as good as they did last year, but some are unrecognizable as the game doesn’t know if someone decided to grow a beard during spring training. Looking at you Alex Cora.

MLB The Show 22 Review: Designated Hitter - picture #4

Our reviews are featured on Metacritic.

Final Thoughts

Reviewing a yearly sports game is difficult considering the small nuances that come out with each year’s edition, but the ultimate question is if it delivers what it sets out to do. And considering that MLB The Show 22 is the only baseball sim out there today that delivers a high level of realism, precision, and depth to the sport of baseball, I’d say that it passed with flying colors.

Granted, this is still the same type of game you played in 2021 or 2020 so don’t expect it to wow you too much. If you have never played a series installment before, MLB The Show 22 is the best baseball simulator you will ever play. If you played last year’s Show, however, then it will feel like deja vu.

Giancarlo Saldana | Gamepressure.com

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