Since its first release ten years ago, MLB The Show has seen a new release in the series every year. The team over at SCEA San Diego Studios has been hard at work to make sure that MLB The Show 16 is the best baseball simulation game to date. After spending a week with this game, I can assure you that the team has packed more gameplay improvements into MLB The Show 16 than in franchise history.
The Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson graces the cover of MLB The Show 16, and is the first MLB The Show Cover Athlete to be on both Canadian and American covers of the game. After having a stellar year in 2015, Josh was voted the American League Most Valuable Player for the 2015 MLB season, and was named as a starter for the 2015 MLB All-Star Game. With so many new/upgraded features added to MLB The Show 16, I’d be hard pressed fitting them all into this review—so I’ll go over some of the most prominent ones.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3
Release Date: March 29th, 2016
Developer: SCEA San Diego Studios
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
Road To The Show gets revamped
One of my most favourite gameplay modes of the MLB The Show series is without a doubt the career-simulation Road To The Show mode. In MLB The Show 16, Road To The Show has been revamped with meaningful additions that you’ll notice right away. In this year’s game, you can now play an entire series of Road To The Show games without ever having to navigate through the main menu between games. Not only is this a time saver, but it also keeps the game moving along with minimal breakup in gameplay.
In MLB The Show 16, you’ll begin your career trying to impress scouts during Bowman Scout Day, where you’ll be evaluated through a new scouting report system based upon your hitting and fielding drills results. The old method of the 1-99 point scouting system has been replaced with the 20-80 point style of scouting used by actual Major League Baseball scouts.
While training and getting your player up to speed, you’ll unlock both passive and consumable perks along the way. Passive perks are immediately active once equipped, and work in a way that make critical situations lean in your favour. For example, you can force the pitcher to throw strikes, make home runs easier by changing the altitude of the park you are playing in, or start off at bat with a 1-0 count every time.
While on the other hand, consumable perks can only be used once per game and you can choose when to use them. Examples include, eliminating foul balls at bat and pitching only fastballs. I am sure you’ll agree perks put a completely new “spin” on MLB The Show 16’s Road To The Show mode, making it more distinct from other gameplay modes.
Diamond Dynasty expands
The Diamond Dynasty mode, similar to Madden NFL 16’s Ultimate Team, has seen its fair share of upgrades in this year’s game. While developing MLB The Show 16, SCEA San Diego Studios worked with Inside Edge, a baseball analytics firm, to create a Daily Player Rating for every day of the 2016 MLB season. In turn, this makes Diamond Dynasty the central hub for all the up-to-date information on every single athlete in Major League Baseball.
The Daily Player Rating runs on a scale from one to five stars, and varies from day-to-day, depending on who the player is facing. So, if the Blue Jays’ Josh Donaldson does well against the Boston Red Sox pitcher, in turn his Daily Player Rating will reflect that. Conversely, if Josh doesn’t fare well against the Red Sox, that will also be reflected.
In addition, SCEA San Diego Studios has added hundreds of new players to MLB The Show 16, including iconic baseball legends. Legends are added in the form of Flashbacks, adding different players from highlighted parts of their careers. It’s even further broken down into Prime Flashbacks, Rookie Flashbacks, and Postseason Flashbacks.
Also, new to MLB The Show 16 are missions. By completing missions such as collecting a certain number of cards will unlock XP, new cards and more. For instance, a mission could be collecting 25 Atlanta Braves players to unlock a Brave’s Flashback player.
Experience baseball’s larger-than-life moments more than ever with ShowTime—quite possibly one of the best new features of this years game. For all intensive purposes, ShowTime is a bullet-time feature that will allow you to slow down time to make those big plays. Imagine making diving plays, and stepping up to bat with a finer and more focused control—ShowTime is a game changer for sure.
Although some may find this new feature as a way to give new gamers and advantage, SCEA San Diego Studios ensured that ShowTime would not be overused. In order to use ShowTime you must first unlock perks, which will then allow you to use ShowTime. You’ll have to be careful balancing things; if you run out of perks, you’ll no longer be able to use ShowTime.
Conquest and Battle Royale
Both Conquest and Battle Royal are brand new modes for MLB The Show 16. Conquest mode allows you to take your Diamond Dynasty team on the road across North America, while trying to become the most popular team. As your popularity grows, you’ll need to think strategically to maintain your popularity and take over new territories. If you can beat another team on their home turf, you’ll be rewarded with team-specific rewards.
On the other hand, Battle Royal mode allows you to buy-in to an elimination Battle Royale, which allows you to build a team through a 25 round draft. This ensures that there is a competitive balance, and once you have completed building your team, you’ll take on other players’ drafted teams in head-to-head online action.
Photorealistic visuals and fluid player animations
Although it might be something you hear every year, the team at SCEA San Diego Studios has taken the MLB The Show franchise to a new level of realism. You’ll instantly notice the amount of control you have over your bat swing is phenomenal. With new and improved routes to ball, once you connect, the ball physics are out of this world.
Not to be outdone, a whole slew of brand new animations have been added to MLB The Show 16. Pitchers have variety of new reactions, dives, throws, and catches. A total of four new swing animations have been added to the game, bringing the total to seven. Adding to the authentic baseball experience, swings are now assigned based upon the type of hitter your player is.
Let’s not forget the stadiums in MLB The Show 16, capturing all the finer details, the stadiums are darn near photorealistic—making you feel part of the action. Classic stadiums like Griffith Stadium, Crosley Field, and Shibe Park have never looked better.
I haven’t been this excited for a sports game in a very long time, and I was completely blown away when I played MLB The Show 16 for the first time. The team at SCEA San Diego Studios has yet again expanded upon the best baseball game franchise on the market. MLB The Show 16 has set the bar that all baseball simulation games should be measured by.
With more focused user control, a curated in-game environment, and a revamped training system that includes Gameplay Perks—MLB The Show 16 offers the ultimate personalized baseball experience. If you’re a baseball fan, there is no better way to get ready for the upcoming season than with MLB The Show 16.
Let me know in the comments section below what you like best about MLB The Show 16, and remember the game isn’t over till it’s over.
+ Graphical tour-de-force with realistic player animations, and photorealistic stadiums
+ Controls are intuitive and movements feel like an extension of the player
+ Huge amount of replay value with revamped modes and online play
+ Gameplay has been streamlined to minimize traversing menus
+ Unlockable perks add a whole new level to gameplay
– The amount of gameplay modes and stats could be overwhelming for casual baseball fans
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 5/5
Overall Rating 4.75/5 (95%)