MLB The Show 16 is hands down the best baseball sim to date.
No sports game has ever captured the effects nature has on the game quite like the show has this year. Everything about the game is beautiful from the crowd, to the grass, to the lighting. When the shadows start creeping onto the field, the game does a masterful job of simulating the added difficulty in picking up location and pitch type.
The game has also added three new distinct running styles, a host of post-home run animations, and as always a completely packed list of hundreds of batting and pitching animations. The Show team wasted no expense in providing the most visually immersive game possible.
The gameplay in this year’s installment is as smooth as ever. With not many new features added,they focused more time on refining the features that were already there. This provided one of the most fluid experiences I have ever had with a sports sim. There is more variability in the flight path of balls allowing a much more fulfilling hitting and fielding experience.
On the hitting side, after each pitch you are shown the location of the pitch, its speed, your timing, and now also your batted ball velocity. While this doesn’t change anything mechanically, I’ve found myself checking the batted ball velocity after nearly every swing. I fell as if I’ve hit more foul balls then ever before, which I’ve found a great addition as it helps drive up pitch counts. Power and contact rating still play a big part in hitting success, but it feels more likely to square up a pitch with a “soft hitter” and watch it soar out of the park.
Base running seems to have had some changes from years past as well. I’ve played around 20 games on franchise mode and still haven’t found a sweet spot in base running speed vs stealing success. Even with the default sliders, I’ve found it incredibly easy to steal bases (22 successes, 1 caught with Ellsbury), but find that general base running is incredibly slow. I’ve been thrown out with my fastest runners (Ellsbury, Gardner) multiple times going 2nd to home on deep singles and even tagging from 3rd on fly balls. I’ve yet to beat out a slow chopper and every ground ball with a runner on first seems to result in a double play, even on diving stops.
Defense is as fluid as ever with solid controls and quick response. If I had one gripe, it would be that the game sometimes will execute a slow relaxed throw, both infield and outfield, allowing the running to beat out a grounder, or get to second base on what should be a single to the outfield. Other than this hiccup, which I would estimate has happened about 5 times, the fielding has been an enjoyable experience.
Road to the Show
MLB The Show 16 has taken the greatest career mode experience in sports gaming, and is daring other franchises to close the gap. Don’t get me wrong, Road to the Show is still the best career mode I’ve played, but some of the changes made have hurt it, in my opinion.
The biggest change to the mode is the addition of “Showtime”. This can be used once per game, while hitting or fielding, and allows the user to slow the play down to a crawl. Use it while hitting and it shows a blue or red streak on the ball indicating ball or strike and also adds a target on the ball letting you know exactly when to swing. While fielding it slows down time to basically nothing allowing you to make what should be a difficult play into the easiest of the game.
The game also now has “powerups” that can be used to guarantee certain results, such as fly balls, ground balls, pitch will be a strike, etc. I understand why they would add these features, but it takes what used to be a genuine baseball sim and turns in into an arcade game.
MLB The Show 16 continues to be the pinnacle of baseball sims and did nothing to hurt that standing. They have vastly improved every game mode, aside from Road to the Show, and added just enough features to make it feel fresh while improving on features that were already there. If you are a baseball fan, this game is a must buy.
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[Editors Note: Go Tribe Go!]