The crack of a ball hitting a wooden bat, the shouts of fans booing or cheering on players, the cries of vendors shouting out their wares, the clearing out of the bench when the winning home run has been hit; these are the sights and sounds of America’s great pastime: Baseball. With the season a month away, what better way to get ready for the race for the pennant, than to play some MLB 10: The Show, Sony’s latest baseball game for the PSP. Over the past few years, The Show has made some leaps and bounds since their early days as 989 Sports. With their only competitor MLB 2K10, will Sony’s latest entry be enough to score a home run or will the mighty Sony strike out?
MLB 10: The Show is of course a baseball sim for the PSP, which has fewer modes than the PS3 version but keeps the basics of the game, in a nice portable package. Controlling the players in the game has been made simple to keep the same pace as an actual live game of baseball, but with a few tweaks.
When pitching, the strike zone of the batter is displayed in front of the catcher. Before making the pitch, you can chose what kind a pitch to deliver as each one is mapped to a face button. As soon as the pitch has been chosen, a small circle appears in the box, showing ideal spot to throw the pitch. The analog controls the direction of the pitch and the X button brings up a strength meter showing how hard the pitch will be thrown. Controlling the field players and the basemen uses the analog as well. Basemen positions are also mapped to the face buttons, so fielding the ball and making plays is simplified.
As for batting, it’s the same as with all baseball games in the past, the X for a big swing and O for a bunt. The analog and the D-pad move the position of the batter in inside the batter’s box. Now with batting, it’s all in the timing of the swing, hitting it hard with enough arcs can send the ball out of the park, but hitting it too hard and early will cause a pop fly and make for an easy out.
Graphics have improved over last year’s game, really pushing the PSP. Each player is represented in their current team colors and stadiums as of the end of the 2010 draft. This is an updated league, which means that some teams have moved out of their old stadiums and into new homes, one example being the Yankees moving into the new Yankees Stadium. What’s really cool is the detail that the PSP is able to put into each of the leagues stadiums. As for sounds, its typical baseball; the cracking of the bats, cheering/booing of fans, the shouts of the umpire are all present in this version.
The downside to The Show is that it does not have a supported infrastructure feature, and will not be able to play online or be able to get automatic roster updates. It does however have an Ad-Hoc mode so that two friends can play innings with each other.
To keep replay value up, a couple of new modes have been added into the game. Modes such as Road to the Show, which is like Season mode, except that you create a custom player to climb up the league ranks. Managers Mode makes a return, placing you as a manager of a team, scheduling practices scouting players and managing their overall fitness. Lastly the Home Run Derby gets a standalone modem, so no more waiting for the All Star Game to see who can knock out the most balls out of the park.
I'm not a real big fan of baseball, unless one of the Texas teams makes it far into the playoffs. With that being said, I did enjoy MLB 10: The Show, it was easy enough to get a grasp of and if I needed additional help there’s a tutorial mode to help with any part of the game ranging from character creation to signing the right player. A Season takes about a couple of hours to complete, which is pretty short. But with the addition of the new modes, there’s enough to keep both the diehard fan and the casual fan busy