MLB 06: The Show


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 9

Sound: 10

Gameplay: 9

Overall: 9


Following up on a stellar outing, Sony's baseball franchise has turned into the single greatest thing to ever happen to portable gaming consoles. MLB 06: The Show is just shy of being complete, though it's extras are more than enough to make up for a missing franchise mode. Handheld sports games do not get better than this.

mlb061psp.jpg (62452 bytes)It's a stunning effort in every area, but the immediate prescense is the presentation. Last year, Sony had a one man play-by-play booth. This year, they've added an additional two announcers who are quick, responsive, accurate and fully believeable. Graphically, this is an unparrelled looker. Stadium detail, including full detail behind the stadium looking out into the city, is a show off piece for the PSP. Player models are slightly lacking in facial detail, though obvious improvements have been made.

Looking past the flash, MLB 06 creates a deep baseball experience. Problems in the batting area have been fully corrected. While it is still a little too easy to whiff on a simple pitch, the amount of customization has taken on a life of its own. There are four different batting systems available, down to a simple "press X to swing" and moving up to the incredibly complex (yet rewarding) mechanics of guessing a pitch, its location, type of swing, and direction.

Umpires consistently make incorrect calls. This initially seems like a flaw, but in the end, creates an involving experience that never lets the general rigid feel of baseball video games take hold. The announcers ensure they point out the improper call, and there's an option to allow for accurate calls if the player desires.

Pitching is the same. Using a simple mechanic of aiming and then using a meter to gauge power/accuracy, this also opens the game up to wild plays that makes the game exciting. MLB 06 goes out of its way to create an out of control game of baseball that doesn't feel restricted by computer code. Wild throws, pitches bouncing off the catcher, and diving grabs have rarely been represented in this way.

Fielding is where things slip slightly. All players suffer from rocket arm giving them the ability to launch a ball from the outfield wall to home without the ball ever touching the ground. This leads to some plays that should end up with extra bases turning into singles. The analog stick of the PSP makes it touch to align fielders in the proper location as well due to over sensitivity.

Instead of franchise play, MLB 06 has a career mode. Mimicking if no outright stealing the Superstar mode from Madden NFL, baseball fans create their own player and take him through a full set of seasons. The better you play, the more money you make. There's the option to only play your at bats or take control of the entire team. As you're only focusing on a single player, this makes the coaching staff critical.

Play poorly and you'll end up in the minors. Interviews with the press are also enjoyable. This sadly eliminates player controlled trading or drafting of new stars in the off season, eliminating this from consideration of a franchise mode. Season play is the only other option aside from a mildly amusing party game know as King of the Diamond.

Online play sets a new standard for all PSP titles. In addition to weekly roster updates, players can access full MLB news (and download it for viewing offline), instant messaging, and friends lists. When not near your PSP, you can check who is online via the game's website. They call this SportsConnect, and every game to follow should use this same interface.

With Sony pulling out no stops in an effort to push their MLB franchise, there's little left to do in following years. They've "featured" themselves nearly out of business. Once the franchise mode is added and an extra focus is paid to fielding, this will be a dominant sports effort.


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Last updated: Monday, October 09, 2006 09:11 PM