It may have been a wall-scraper, but MLB 18 The Show is a home run nonetheless
Road To The Show
Let’s start with the most overhauled area of the game, Road To The Show. Gone are the days where you could pay $20 for training points to max out your player’s attributes, as well as the days where you could be in AA in April and the Big League’s by June. Sony’s changes have made RTTS immensely more realistic, right down to the smallest of details, like their new swing editor and expanded player customization.
You begin your journey again at the Topps Amateur Showcase, just as you did last year, except this time around, you will not be a top prospect. Your player is a dark horse who will likely be drafted near rounds 25-30 with a C or D potential rating. You will again, like last year, have many choice-based dialog opportunities with coaches and whatnot, which can go a long way in determining what kind of person your player is and will become. And now, with dynamic attribute changes, your choices, as well as your play on the field, are more critical than ever. Swing at a 58 foot curveball? Throw the ball into the 5th row of the stands? Expect to see a decrease in your attributes. But hit a walk-off home run or draw a big walk, and you’ll see your attributes raised right there during the game. Don’t expect your player to have maxed out, all 99 rated attributes though. Sony implemented a pre-draft choice of what type of player you view yourself as, which caps certain attributes. As a hitter, for example, I chose to be a Power Corner First Baseman, which allows me to max out my Power to 99, but caps things like my Contact and Plate Discipline to the 60’s and 70’s.
Doing away with micro-transactions in RTTS is the best choice Sony could have made for this mode, but their new process isn’t perfect yet. It also turns the beginning of your career into a real grind. Raising your overall rating is a slow, sometimes grueling process, especially since you start with a rating right around 50 overall, on top of having dynamic attribute caps. So expect to be in the minors for quite a while, which is fun for those seeking an ultra-realistic game mode, but a little too much work for the casual, money-spending players who would rather pay some money and mash in the Bigs right off the bat.
Not much has changed in The Show’s Franchise mode. The main addition to it is that they added important date trackers, or ‘phases’, for things such as the draft, All Star Weekend, the trade deadline, etc. which allows you to easily sim up to these dates and/or follow your team’s progress more closely. Aside from the addition of these phases, as well as some nicely streamlined menu screens, the only other changes are that they added the ability to play through seasons in retro mode, which replaces the online mode from last year. Despite minor tweaks, Franchise Mode is still an incredibly in-depth experience for both beginning and veteran managers alike, it’s just a bit disappointing that so little was changed in a mode that has been largely the same for so many years.
Diamond Dynasty, while improved, still didn’t change much. They did add a bunch more legends. Now, you can play along side the likes of Jackie Robinson and Babe Ruth, amongst many others. They also added more missions to earn extra gear, which is never a bad thing, but aside from that, there are no other noteworthy changes. Regardless, Diamond Dynasty is great as baseball’s version of ‘Ultimate Team’. EA’s Ultimate Team modes require stamina and contract cards where Sony’s does not, and that alone is enough for me to keep coming back. One just wishes, much like the Franchise Mode, that they could have added a bit more to really add to the allure of this game mode.
Controls, Graphics, & Conclusion
MLB 18 The Show is far and away the best looking baseball game of all time. The graphics are beautiful. The swings have no hitches and are very fluid, the fielders actually carry a bit of momentum and can’t stop and turn on a dime, and the controls are perfect. Two of my favorite things are the weather and the fans. The weather is dynamic and can change inning by inning. The fans are also dynamic, in that if your team sucks, your attendance will suck too, and you’ll notice it. Sony paid close attention to the smallest details of this game, and it shows, making MLB 18 The Show by far their best installment in the series, setting the benchmark for baseball games to come, all while leaving plenty of room for improvement, giving us reason to look forward to their efforts next year.
Overall Grade: 8.5/10
Pros: Amazing graphics, great controls, revamped & more realistic RTTS mode, improved player customization, swing editor, more Diamond Dynasty legends, better back and forth commentary (with Mark DeRosa replace Harold Reynolds)
Cons: Another year with a largely unchanged Franchise mode, early server trouble (resolved), dialog gets repetitive quickly
Did I miss anything? Is there anything you’d like to know about the game? Agree or disagree? If you have any questions or comments, let me know down below!