There’s a lot to say about MLB: the Show 17, even though I’ve only played it for a small amount of time. But for now, let’s talk about what I did play.
Right off the bat, this game starts off with a beautiful intro. Playing audio clips of historical baseball moments while an artist draws those moments out with chalk. Definitely invokes a lot of emotions for those with a soft spot for sports history. Pretty neat way to kick off what should be another stellar year of baseball.
Surprisingly, the main menu and even the franchise mode’s menus are almost 100% identical to last year’s layout… which isn’t a bad thing at all. 17’s menu is easy to navigate, highlighted by Road to the Show, Diamond Dynasty and Franchise modes. The Franchise mode’s menus are pretty much the same as last year. Everything is in the same place, with a slightly different look. So if you’ve played the franchise mode in 16, you’ll know where everything is this year.
As always, they’ve added new game mechanics that change the way you can play The Show. Once you start playing, 17 will allow you to try out these new mechanics and let you decide whether you want to use them or go back to older mechanics… You can mix and match these options. The new defensive mechanics stand out the most. They add a whole new sense of realism to the game, for better or worse. You really have to pay attention and be precise with where and how you’re throwing the ball. Get too lax and you’ll find yourself committing a ton of errors. A difficult new feature that gives the game an entire new feel. If you don’t like the new mechanics, you’re not stuck playing with them, which has always been a cool option in The Show.
As far as the gameplay in it’s entirety, there have been little additions here and there, that add to the solid gameplay of years passed. The Show has always been one of the great sports games out there and that still stands true. Tweaks to the ball and bat physics make The Show feel all the more realistic… Making for a new experience almost every time the ball makes contact with the baseball bat. It’s those subtle tweaks that make MLB: the Show one of the best sports games out there, let alone the best baseball game.
The presentation and commentary is pretty solid. Even with some recycled lines, The Show still sounds like a real life baseball game. From highlighting a player’s season stats to their career average against an opposing pitcher, it all feels natural. I love the subtle things like letting the audience know that whatever regular scheduled program won’t be on the air because the game you’re playing has went deep into extra innings. This year, they’ve added an MLB Network broadcast package. This gives your games a more detailed broadcast experience that uses elements from the MLB Network.
The Show’s visuals are some of the best in any sports game. Players look more realistic than ever as facial scans have vastly improved from last year. Players look more like they were ripped from the real world, rather than an in-game created character. The fields, the stadiums all look great as well. 17 has added new classic stadiums and even the Atlanta Braves’ brand new Sun Trust Park stadium makes its debut here. The Show and super realistic graphics always go hand in hand and that doesn’t change this year.
The franchise mode is as solid as ever, to no one’s surprise. Tons of things to do, tons of different ways to play. Starting off your franchise, after you choose your team(s), you’re given the opportunity to choose which aspects of the franchise you want to control or have the CPU control. Do you want to just play the games and let the CPU handle all the off the field stuff? Or do you want full control of everything? If you chose the ladder, then there’s a whole lot to do in 17’s franchise mode. Amongst pulling out all the stops to put together the best roster possible en route to a championship, you’ll keep track of the team’s revenue. Winning games, accomplishing team goals and appeasing the fan will help you in building your dynasty.
You can play out entire 9 inning games or speed things up by using the Critical Situation option. As you simulate games, it’ll stop and ask you if you’d like to take control of critical situations in a game. For me, personally, I prefer playing out entire games, but being able to occasionally simulate games and take control of big moments of a game is a pretty cool option to have. Franchise modes in any sports game is what draws me into spending so much time with them, and MLB: the Show 17’s franchise mode does not disappoint at all.
So far, as I expected, I’m loving MLB: the Show 17. Though there’s still a lot more that I have to play, like Diamond Dynasty, Road to the Show and Retro Mode. I’ll be bringing you my thoughts on the rest of MLB: the Show 17 in the coming days, so stay tuned to that.