Step up to the plate with the noise of the crowd ringing in your ears. Remember all of the training and practice that brought you to this point. As you prepare to swing a bat for the first time in an MLB game, you notice a lump in your throat. Do you choke at the doorway of opportunity or confidently take the first step of the rest of your career? Welcome to MLB 10: The Show. It proved difficult at first so why should you be interested?
The Show looks, feels, and sounds like America's Pastime should once you push through the initial difficulty. First, it’s one of the most visually stunning sports games available and pays attention to the smallest details. Each ballpark has its own feel complete with advertisements, web site addresses, and dugouts; even the skylines in the background are animated. Shadows creep across the diamond as the sun goes down. Scoreboard video screens keep up with the action on the field.
Obviously, not every game is a sellout crowd when in the minor leagues
, so it’s nice to see empty seats at smaller games. The fans that are there respond to the action (or mistakes) on field and create an atmosphere of realism. If a ball is hit into the stands, you can see people reach for the souvenir catch. They’ll even stay on their feet and make a lot of noise if you’re producing hits or making big plays.
Player models and animations are top-notch, too. Whether you’re looking over home plate from the catcher’s view or zoomed out in a broadcast style, it's easy to forget that you’re playing
this game instead of watching ESPN. Players kick up clouds of dirt on the infield and that same dirt shows on their jerseys after a sliding play. If a batter gets hit with a wild pitch, he tries to shake it off and the grimace on his face makes you feel his pain. After that batter makes it to first base, the coach will talk with him to make sure he’s feeling good enough to run. Hit a home run and the batter will celebrate at home plate with the next batter.
Occasionally, animations get cut
off prematurely or duplicated by multiple base runners at the same time, but you have to be looking closely to pick them out. Collision detection is also top-notch with only a rare clipping issue (most commonly noticed when a base runner walks through an infielder). These are all small annoyances, though, and rarely detract from the overall experience. In short, The Show looks amazing.
So, how does it play? It feels like you’re playing baseball. That’s the highest compliment I can give MLB 10: The Show, but it’s also a warning to the casual player. As a patient gamer, I don’t need training wheels. However, the focus on realism and simulation makes the initial difficulty intimidating and The Show could have done a better job in introducing the mechanics. A helpful explanation of batting, pitching and fielding are found buried in the game’s menu system,
but why make it a game to find that information?
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