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MLB 10 The Show
Score: 87%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer: SCEA San Diego Studio
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1 - 2 (1 - 2 Network Players)
Genre: Sports (Baseball)/ Simulation/ Arcade

Graphics & Sound:
Looking as outstanding as ever, Sony's MLB 10 The Show is a beautiful piece of eye candy when it comes to player models. Not only do they visually look great -- with outstanding textures and lighting -- but the animations are hands-down impressive and knock the competition out of the water. The smooth transitions between motion captured animations drive realism home in this title. The stadiums are also looking good, but admittedly feel a little flat when directly compared to those of rival 2K Sports' MLB 2K10. Still, there are times when, at a quick glance, you'd swear the television was broadcasting a real game, rather than it showing images generated by a game system. The unfortunate oversight that the developers had, however, is that when played on a non-widescreen TV, some of the camera angles for between-the-action scenes actually cut off the focal point at the edge of the screen and look horrible. Another slight flaw is that there is a bit too much sheen around players at times, especially in the helmet area. Otherwise, MLB 10 The Show is a beautifully rendered title.

The audio present in the game is a mixed bag, and unfortunately drags the game down a bit. For starters, the choice of Menu music just wasn't up my alley, and if left to play for a while, actually got extremely annoying. The moment I got in-game for the first time, the commentators did less than impress. However, as my play time wore on, I actually enjoyed their style for the most part. The exception was that some of the off-color comments that were made during replays felt completely out of place, delivering that same awkward feel of listening to someone try to tell a funny joke only to have it fall flat.


Gameplay:
The heart of any sports game revolves around its main features and in the case of MLB 10 The Show, that feature is the Road to the Show. As the years progress, Sony's feature tends to get better (and has actually spawned a similar mode from its competition), so it is once again welcome to be able to create your star player and build his career from the ground up. Through games played, training, and persistence, it is your goal to build up a star player in whichever position you choose. This year you can also take control as the catcher, calling the action as you see fit by directing the pitcher throughout the game.

Fielding has apparently been addressed this year, and it is a mixed bag. One downfall is that the fielders don't seem to get the best jump on the ball (most notably the infielders), allowing extra bases where I wouldn't necessarily think it should, but on top of that, the game allows way too many fielding errors to occur, dragging the gameplay down a bit. Those things aside, controlling the fielders themselves does have a very natural feel to it. I love the fact that one can quickly turn a double play without much thought going into the controls, and catching fly balls is a breeze thanks to the oversized under-foot graphic that appears.

From a pitching standpoint, the method of delivery is meter-based, and it certainly takes a bit to get used to. When nobody is on base, pitchers tend to have a slower delivery than they do when there are base runners ready to steal. While this is certainly more realistic (MLB 10 The Show is definitely a better simulation than 2K's game), it has the ill side effect of increasing the learning curve of how to pitch. I personally found this game's "simple" aim and click method to give me less control than I would have liked, but others may prefer this method of delivery.

On the other side of the plate, however, the batting was outstanding. MLB 10 The Show gives the option to guess both the pitch and its location, which can help even when you guess wrong. Guess right, and indicators flash so you know that the delivery will be coming as you have anticipated. The beauty, however, is that just because you've guessed the general location within the strike zone doesn't necessarily mean that the ball will cross the plate, so you'll still have to keep a lookout for pitches that make you chase errant throws. The act of hitting is a simple button-click, either with a normal swing or a power swing (except in the Rookie difficulty setting), and it's not necessary to aim your bat, although it will certainly yield better results if you follow the pitch location correctly.

MLB 10 The Show offers up a host of gameplay modes outside of the Road to the Show feature. You'll also be able to play Franchise and Season games, test your batting skills at the new Home Run Derby, or even practice your position playing in mini-game drills. The Online Season will also allow you to now have 40-man rosters. In general, MLB 10 The Show is an excellent baseball simulation that will appeal to the masses. Unfortunately, there are small things that drag the game down a bit that will have to be overlooked. The only real problem (as mentioned above) is in the amount of errors that occur on mundane, routine plays. You'll also have to watch out for errant throws from off-balance players, so sometimes setting your feet before the throw to first is a small detail that need not be overlooked. These types of errors I reluctantly appreciate, however. The ones that kill me are grounders that get by both infielders, and bloopers that sneak past outfielders, resulting in extra bases that should never have happened.


Difficulty:
MLB 10 The Show's difficulty is one thing that anyone should be able to handle with a little practice, and when that doesn't work, a bit of manipulation. One great feature about The Show is that you can go in and tweak out a variety of settings to customize the game to your liking. If you feel that the game is too offensive-dominant (it may be a bit too much so), you can always go in and adjust how the players will bat compared to the pitches.

The one thing that I personally found most difficult was in the pitching mechanics. The varying speed of the pitch meter takes a bit of getting used to at first, but as long as you pay attention and remember when you have runners on base (the pitch meter goes very fast at that point), you'll be okay with practice. Unfortunately, this method of pitching didn't give me a feeling of having total control, however, but it may just be a personal taste as I'm sure others out there would prefer this meter-based delivery.

Batting came much easier in MLB 10 The Show, and the ability to guess pitches increased the playability even further. Hitting just felt natural, and being able to choose between a normal or power swing with the press of a button and have the ability to check-swing on a bad pitch was quite welcomed. Fielding (aside from undeserved errors and players being a bit slow) was also outstanding, being able to track down the ball or turn a quick double play with ease. Base running was probably the trickiest of all aspects of the gameplay to get a handle on, and I found myself caught in a pickle all too often.


Game Mechanics:
The controls of MLB 10 The Show are pretty straightforward and easy to get into, with the possible exception of base running. Unfortunately, baseball videogames tend to over-complicate base running for some reason, although this game's controls directly related to base running feel slightly better than those of the competition. Still, using the shoulder buttons just doesn't feel natural. Controlling multiple runners as a group can get you into trouble, yet controlling them individually usually ends up more confusing than it's worth.

Pitching and batting are both done by aiming with the Left Analog Stick and throwing or swinging with the face buttons. Both aspects of this battle felt very natural and easy to manipulate, although pitching was more difficult than one would think being based off a golf-style power/accuracy meter. Still, many people will probably prefer this method of controlling the main action, as it has been done for many years.

Aside from a few errors in gameplay, MLB 10 The Show is a very solid title and should not be overlooked when searching for a baseball game this season. The excellent game modes and overall controls help this title to play like a winner, and the player models and animation add a great deal of visual realism to the game. I certainly recommend MLB 10 The Show as a winning game, but you may also want to check out the MLB 2K10 review, or head straight over and take a look at Game Vortex's Feature, VS: Battle at the Plate, where both 2010 games are compared side-by-side.


-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

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