We're well on our way into the baseball season but not every baseball game was released prior to the start of major league baseball. While MLB07 The Show was released for PSP and PlayStation 2 early on, the PlayStation 3 version didn't show up until much later. The extra time given to the PlayStation 3 version didn't seem to help it that much though as what we have is an average baseball game.
MLB 07's gameplay does exhibit some great moments but also moments bad AI decisions. Questionable plays do abound and I can't think that there's a Manny Ramirez type player on every team. For example, base running errors do appear more often than not during the times when a ball is hit to the outfield. The runners would sometimes break really late if I were to throw to home plate rather than the cut off man. This would offer me plenty of time to throw to the base they are trying to go to and get them to tag out.
There are some shining moments though seeing some of the animations where players would dive for the ball and throw from the knees or get up quickly to throw someone out. Even some cool double plays can happen where a second basemen would flip the ball behind the back to the short stop and the short stop would finish the play to first. Seeing the diving catches in the outfield is often times exhilarating and the developers did a great job in the animations.
Fielding though can be a hit or miss especially in the outfield. When a ball is hit there's a circle on the ground that shows where the ball is going to land. It gradually gets smaller as the ball falls closer to the ground. If you are close enough an animation plays of the player catching the ball and if need be getting ready to throw back to the infield. The closeness you are needed to be to the falling baseball for this to happen doesn't always seem to be the same. Sometimes I can be pretty far and the player will make the catch while other times I can be really close and the ball will just fall without even an effort.
On high fly balls, most of the time the player will just sit under and make the easy catch. I've had a few instances where the player would be in the animation watching the ball getting ready to catch and it would just fall right in front of him. Needless to say it gets pretty frustrating to see routine flyballs being misplayed this badly. The glitch should at least result in an error but none is ever recorded and I went through a whole season earning a Gold Glove in left field because of this.
As the title suggests, one of the big features of the game is The Show whereby you take a created player and work your way through up to the majors. You can set yourself up for a primary and secondary position as well as choose whether you bat left, right, or switch it up. You'll be able to customize the look of your player from face to clothing to batting stance. The features aren't robust but they are good enough for the game. After creating the physical aspect of your player, you'll dole out some points to various statistical categories such as speed, durability, and batting power for both right and left handed stances. Player creation gives you some options but don't expect to go crazy in creating the look of your player in terms of customization.
There are various categories that you can improve on and you can do this by earning points in games you play. The more goals and better your team plays the more points you earn per game. A minimum of 100 points is needed to train and you can allocate more than the 100 points to one category if you have more to spare. Certain categories can decrease if you don't address them in training so you'll need to be strategic in which one you want to concentrate on and which category you want to maintain.
One nice thing about the Show portion of the game is that you are only presented with the plays that affect you. That means if you're playing in the outfield, you won't have to sit through the at bats that aren't hit towards you. This also happen when you are batting as you won't see the at bats that you aren't directly involved in. Because of how this is done, games can go by a lot quicker and you can put in a good number of games in a short amount of time.
The AI or the manager does need some work though. I was batting consistent .380 and the manager would always bat me near the bottom of the order. Even when I talked to the manager and he agreed to move me up I would always find my way back down to the bottom of the order after a few games. With my 40+ game hitting streak and playing error free defense, I either found myself platooning with another player or sitting a few games. The manager makes some illogical decisions as evident by how well I was playing and how badly I was being handled.
Camera angles can give you fits sometimes as well especially during the Show mode. When you're on base and controlling the base runner you can easily lose sight of the ball when hit. Since the ball is so small on screen and there's really no visual indication of where it's going and if it's caught on the fly or if it hit the ground. It's really frustrating in situations where you don't know if you should advance to the next base or head back. There were plenty of times where I couldn't see the ball and thought it hit the ground only to have the outfield catch it and double me up because I didn't head back. The commentary to let you know what's happening is a little too far behind to be helpful in most situations. I would've liked to have seen some better visual cues on what's happening during these situations so I can better judge what to do with my base running.
Given that the game is appearing on the PlayStation 3, the graphics for MLB 07 The Show doesn't live up to the system. While the game looks clean, the models and details of said models aren't anything special. Some of the players look pretty off to their real life counterpart but on the flip side the batting and pitching animation are spot on for plenty of the players. The crowd though is modeled pretty well even if there are some repeated animations in the crowd at the same time. The stadiums also look pretty good but not amazing and nothing that screams that this game is on a high powered console. Overall, the game wasn't a major visual upgrade that the PlayStation 3 is capable of.
Bugs a plenty do appear in the game though and a lot of them have to do with display. When showing the top 20 home run hitters during season, they display them in two columns of 10. The problem is the last name in the first column will show up as the first name in the second column so you'll get a double name in there. Another display problem I ran into is with some scoreboards in stadiums. I was playing the Angels and I was up 3-2 but the scoreboard in the stadium showed the game tied at 3-3. A final example comes from my current 20 game hitting streak. My first at bat I'm looking to extend it to 21. I get the hit and the announcers talk about the graphic showing my hitting streak. One problem was the graphic wouldn't show up. When it finally did a few games later with my hitting streak continuing, it showed my hit streak minus the current game so I should have had 25 instead it showed that I was on a 24-game hitting streak.
Another bug I've run into is I would hit the button to throw to second but for some reason the player would throw to home instead. When I play second base and there's a runner on second I always place my finger on the second base button and a few plays before it was fine. On a rare occasion my press to throw to second base would see my player throw to him. It's frustrating when you are trying to end the inning and things like this pops up.
During the game, I've seen some strange things happen such as an outfielder standing on top of the ball after a hit while another outfielder comes over to throw it back to the infield. There are some weird trajectories making solid hits die in the infield. It's little things like these these that turn up a lot which leaves the question of if they rushed the game through Q/A.
The Show has it's moments and I did have fun going through the career mode. I was able to run through a season very quickly and it's a nice change of pace to play a certain position and work my way up from the minors. While it's not a huge step in improvement for a baseball game, MLB 07 The Show manages some good baseball moments. The bugs and some inconsistent issues leaves it at an above average baseball game though.
More On:MLB 07 The Show
Bugs and the average graphics make this an ok baseball game for the PlayStation 3.