MLB 07: The Show


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 8

Sound: 9

Gameplay: 9

Overall: 9


Even though it’s on a piece of hardware the industry has slowly begun ruling obsolete, MLB 07: The Show is a remarkable, engrossing, and nearly flawless baseball title. The years of refinement have been well spent in every aspect of the game. Sports fans still have a reason to stick with the aging hardware.

Immediately apparent is the presentation. 2K Sports used to set the standard. Sony has now demolished and rebuilt that aspect. Matt Vasgersian is the best commentator in video games today, adding remarkable depth to the already immersive game play. His natural style and robust array of rapid-fire calls are appropriate for any given situation. Dave Campbell and Rex Hudler create a full three-man booth so involving, you learn as you play simply by listening.

mlb07theshow1ps2.jpg (18770 bytes)Long before discovering the play-by-play, you’ll delve into an equally involving menu system. This year’s addition is “The Road to the Show,” in which your created player begins a career in the fully licensed minors, working for a small contract. As time goes on, your stats improve as you pull down larger cash compensation. You only handle your player, and defensive plays only occur if the situation requires your input.

Coaches have specific needs, and tasks are given before each at bat or at critical junctions if you’ve chosen to become a pitcher. Completing these as instructed grants enormous benefits, from stat boosts to a quicker promotion from AA or AAA on your way to the pros.

The Show continues to deepen its franchise mode as well. Ticket prices, concessions, player transportation, TV contracts, advertising, promotions, and player management must be tracked in order to run a successful ball club. Your limited budget requires wins to keep fans in the seats or your business model may sink along with your team morale.

While the off-the-field menu system provides hours of potential time wasting, actual game play will keep this game stuck in your Playstation 2 for quite some time. A new base running system, which uses the right analog stick to select a runner, a simple button tap to guide them is far less convoluted than it has been in previous years. If that system still works for you, the option is included to revert to the old style, buried in a menu of over 50 variables for you to choose from.

Pitching receives the most obvious boost, letting the catcher call many of the shots. The recommended pitch is selected and he sets the position. You’re free to change the call at your leisure, but this slight pitcher/catcher interaction truly enhances the realism in the face of disappearing graphical improvements.

The three click meter-based throws return this year, though with a slight twist. As the game moves forward, the pitcher can begin to lose confidence in certain throws. Toss a two-seam fastball that is hit for a homerun and making that same pitch work again is a challenge.

With all of the pitching changes, it’s a shame that stepping on the plate has barely been altered. While the competition has moved on to analog swings (though this is generally met with mixed results), a generic contact and power swing are available with a single button press. New information can be pulled up after a missed swing by pressing the L3 button to help frustrated players know where the at bat failed. Guessing a pitch is a recurring option that provides a boost if you can pick up on a pitcher’s pattern.

Stunning online play returns with features advanced enough to call EA Sport’s ESPN integration obsolete. A full online community, all MLB news, scores, and reports are available. Far more impressive is the ticker, which by itself is nothing new. However, you can now access live updates on whatever real life game you’re interested in including pitch count, bases, and score all while playing a virtual MLB game.

Sports simulations rarely become this successful. The minor tweaks and adjustments have pushed this PS2 effort well beyond that of its next generation competition. This is truly a game that has made it to “The Show” in every way possible.


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Last updated: Sunday, April 22, 2007 08:54 PM