Editor’s Note: This review has been composed by the Nittany Blue Hen, lead blogger over at our college football news site, College Fantasy Coach.com, and one of our many expert fantasy baseballers in our 2011 fantasy league.
MLB 11: The Show continues the franchise’s reign as the most realistic baseball video game on the market. This year’s version lives up to the reputation established by its predecessors and even makes some improvements.
The largest improvement is the implementation of full analog control, meaning swings and throws are controlled completely with the joy stick. Analog hitting is a real improvement. You pull back as the pitcher releases to start your timing, and push forward to make solid contact as the ball crosses the plate. The same principle is in place for throwing and pitching. Pull back to wind up, push forward to release toward the base. The more you wind up, the harder the throw and the less the accuracy.
If you’re a button masher, don’t be discouraged. The analog controls are easy to pick up and should only take a couple of games to master. There are even practice modes to help you get a grasp. If you’re still not a fan after trying it for a while, you can adjust the settings back to traditional controls.
Visually, the game is once again quite stunning. The stadiums look great, the players are unique and similar to their real life counterparts, and the animations are very well done. Even the cut scenes showing players before the game are well done. One drawback of the presentation is Dave Campbell’s return. The addition of Eric Karros is nice and hopefully this is the first part of a plan to phase out the “Soup.”
The first game mode to look at is the “Road to the Show”, which is the The Show’s signature game play mode in the franchise. This year’s version allows you greater ability to determine what type of player you’ll be at the beginning. You can gear your player to be a power hitter, a speedster, etc. One issue is the fact that if you do desire to make your player a speedster, his speed to start is only mediocre and you must build it up.
This bothers me somewhat, because Jacoby Ellsbury wasn’t slow when he was in double-A, and gradually became faster through his minor league career. The guy could burn in the minors his speed probably hasn’t changed much since he was 18. I understand what the game is trying to do by making you work to improve your player, but certain physical attributes are always present in a player.
One improvement to Road to the Show is a more sensible award system. If you’re a pitcher, the fact that you gave up a hit isn’t necessarily bad if you battled for a while and gave up a seeing-eye single. If you’re a hitter and battler for 15 pitches and lose, you are actually awarded.
My personal favorite, the franchise mode, is relatively unchanged. The trade AI seems to be getting better each year, however. If you want Pittsburgh’s all-star free agent to be, you need to be willing to part with some quality prospects. Just swapping a washed up vet with a similar rating rarely works.
MLB 11: The Show succeeds in improving itself. It is worth noting that the game is slowly becoming a yearly roster update like Madden, because the quality is to the point where there is little that can be done to continue improving. Either way, I would recommend it as it is also like Madden in that it has no real peers.