Thursday, March 4, 2010

MLB The Show: 2010—Quick Review

What better way to kick off my first ever trip to the Cactus League than by picking up "MLB The Show 2010" yesterday!

After taking the annoying 20-25 minutes to update my PS3 software and upload the game's data, I got to play a game—Indians vs. Twins. And here are a couple of things that immediately stood out, graphically and in the play.

Graphically, it's a sweet upgrade from the '09 version. Players move more fluidly; player faces more closely resemble those of that player (Justin Morneau is spot on good); shadows are more ambient and defined, as are dirt stains; and players don't "go through" each other with as much frequency.

One very cool thing was this: I played under partly cloudy conditions, and throughout the game cloud shadows would fade in and out of field of play—some parts of the field would have shadows, others not. It really gives the feeling of playing under those conditions. A very sweet, subtle touch.

Also, from about the 7th inning on, shadows from the stands started to creep across home plate and over the third base line. Another nice touch.

You can also see when a pitcher is getting tired and winded as his shoulders move up and down.

Oh, the fans aren't "repeated" nearly as often—in fact, it's darn hard to find the same fan doing the same gesture in the same section.

On to the play.

So much better! Far more realistic. Infielders no longer seem to have incredible ranges, and their Hoover-esque like ability to snare any ball in their vicinity seems to be gone as well—as is the ability to make off-balance or deep-in-the-hole throws. Example: I hit a ball to short with Nick Punto that the SS had to backhand and I was able to make it first.

The speed of the players more closely matched their real-time speed. Example: I drag bunted twice. With Denard Span, I was able to put one down short and to the left of the mound and beat it out. (No silly-great jumps off the mound by the pitcher and then firing a pea over to first like the '09 version.) On the second drag bunt, I laid one down up the 1B line and was able to beat that out as well.

Double plays are also harder to turn for the computer—and for the player as well.

It was easier to make errors, too. I made an error with Mauer on a steal attempt by the CPU when I overthrew it and the ball skipped into center. I made a second error when I needlessly fired the ball to second with my cutoff man. (This is good. You shouldn't be able to just will-nilly throw the ball wherever.)

Outfielder ranges more closely resemble those of the real player. Example: Jason Kubel is slow to the ball. In the '09 version, Kubel's fat ass could catch balls headed to the alley or he could sprint back to the ball. Not now. Grady Sizemore put one over his head for a triple.

Of note: Games are actually sponsored by real-time businesses, I think. As announcers were doing the pre-game, they said 'today's game sponsored by State Farm Insurance'. Product placement in video games? An interesting tact. As a marketer, I kind of like the idea.

While playing one game doth not a review make, there were a lot of noticeable and excellent upgrades and you'll be very happy with your purchase!

P.S. On a real-time baseball note, just what in the Sam hell was the city of Minneapolis thinking in building an open-air stadium? April and October—and hell, even more so late October—have the potential to be bitterly cold, worse than even Colorado. And while I've never been to the Twin Cities, I get the impression that the summers are sickly hot, ungodly humid and rampant with bugs—especially mosquitoes. Then again, I guess I shouldn't be too surprised about the questionable decision to have an open-air stadium since this is the same state that elected Jesse Ventura for Governor and Al Franken to the House.

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