When I reviewed MLB The Show 21 last year, I found that it was one of the best baseball games I’ve ever play. Growing up with the Hardball series on the PC, I can honestly say that I love baseball more than I do football. Hell, I love every other sport more than I do football. MLB The Show 22 is just the latest game in my love affair with baseball.
With MLB The Show 21 so fresh in everybody’s minds, does the new version of the game offer significant differences (other than the requisite roster updates) to warrant a playthrough?
Read on and you’ll find out.
What is MLB The Show 22?
MLB The Show 22 is a baseball game developed by Sony’s San Diego Studios. Weirdly enough, it’s a multiplatform game, with releases on the Playstation and Xbox consoles, as well as the Nintendo Switch.
Sony was awesome enough to provide us with codes for all the consoles, though the review will only focus on the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X|S consoles. Screenshots are from the Xbox Series X|S though the Playstation 5 looks similar.
The burning question; is MLB The Show 22 worth it?
On the Xbox, if you’re a Game Pass subscriber, you can play MLB The Show 22 (like MLB The Show 21) right off the bat (pun intended) free of charge. There’s really no downside there.
Playstation (and Nintendo Switch) fans on the other hand, have to fork out money to play a game developed by one of Sony’s first party studios. There’s definitely some irony here, at least for the Playstation folks.
Performance on both the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X is largely similar on all fronts. Both are equally fluid in-game, with similarly fast load times as well. In fact, other than the 3D audio and adaptive triggers on the Playstation 5, there’s nothing separating the two versions.
3D audio is pretty decent if you’re wearing headphones. If you have a decent sound setup (I’m using a Samsung HW-Q950A Dolby Atmos 11.1.4 soundbar), you’ll get much better sound out of that though.
If you’ve missed out on MLB The Show 21, then the short and easy answer is yes. MLB The Show 21 is jam packed with content, including a pretty decent Career mode in the Road to the Show.
There’s cross play and cross progression, so you can easily migrate your stats and other settings over if you play on multiple consoles. This is honestly one of the game’s best features, though I don’t really know if a ton of players will buy the game twice or thrice.
Returning players won’t find much that’s revolutionary in MLB The Show 22, more of an evolution of what’s made MLB The Show 2021 so fun.
If you have MLB The Show 21 and don’t really care about the new roster update, the enhanced and streamlined Stadium Creator (which honestly I don’t even bother with) and the new gameplay tweaks (pinpoint controls) aren’t that big a deal.
I don’t even play with the new control schemes. I just use the old school strike zone styles, which are fun enough.
That’s not a knock against the game, as it is still a solid entry, but it feels a bit too safe and similar, after MLB The Show 2021.
Of course, that also means the good things about MLB The Show 2021 also carry over to MLB The Show 2022.
I’ve said it previously in my MLB The Show 21 review but it also bears saying again at how accommodating the game is to players.
The batting and pitching have multiple styles so pretty much everybody can find they’re comfy with and get to playing. That’s saying something, when other sports games barely have an alternate control style.
Batting is still very tricky as you not only have to judge the speed of the ball and when to swing, you also have to aim at the location you think the pitcher is throwing to. It’s very satisfying when you connect but it’s a bit too finicky for me so I mostly choose pitch instead.
Pitching was always one of the best parts of the game and that still holds true. There’s just something very satisfying in striking out somebody with flawless throwing that I love. In the Career mode, I’m still playing as a pitcher and loving every bit of it.
Road to the Show largely feels similar to last year’s, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You have conversations with coaches before some games, choose your training routine and then level up according to what skills you used in matches. It’s a very intuitive system, though I’d have expected more fleshing out.
NBA 2K22’s open world was one of the best aspects of that game’s career mode and I was hoping MLB The Show would follow suit. Without to do other than the limited options given, the mode does tend to get old after awhile because it seems like your avatar has no life outside of baseball.
Another mode that deserves mentioning is Moments.
The mode puts you in the shoes of historic players and tasks you with achieving their noteworthy feats in classic games or monumental games, such as the World Series 2022 games with Houston and Atlanta. It’s a more mission based take to regular baseball and is surprisingly more challenging than I thought it’d be.
It’s also a plus that the mode has another sub-mode (Daily Moments) that changes monthly, which means a constantly rotating challenge is available through the game’s lifespan…which I guess is a year or so. Playing the various missions in the mode nets you unlockables you can use in other parts of the game, so there’s always motivation to play.
The last recommended mode is Retro mode.
If you grew up playing console or PC baseball in the 90s, you’ll love this mode. It’s an old school take with no complicated controls. 1 button battling and pitching, minimal UI.
It’s arcadey as hell and so simplistic anybody can pick it up and enjoy!
As before, one of the reasons to play the game is the TV styled presentation. With the camera cuts, the slick visuals and the commentators, it almost feels like you’re watching a game on TV.
It’s just a damn shame the video packages (the talking pundits and stars) seem so awkward with their lines. It was fine last year, with the pandemic raging, but doing it again this year doesn’t do the game any favours.
I feel the game should scrap these and go for a sportscaster TV show style, like the ones you see on FOX Sports or ESPN.
Just take the whole thing, and plop it down into a studio setting. Bam!
One thing I’d like to see improved in future iterations of the series is crowd reaction. Sure, they move and cheer but they don’t seem to react to balls. I mainly play as a pitcher and when the ball’s hit into the stands (for a foul ball), the crowd’s just doing their thing.
Nobody’s standing up to look at the incoming ball, or try to catch it or dodge it or whatever. It just ruins the otherwise near flawless visual presentation of the game.
Speaking of which, the dirt’s an issue too.
Or rather the lack of it. When batters or pitchers do their work you’d expect some dirt to fly from their feet as they move. Nope, nothing.
With MLB The Show 22 nailing a lot of the major presentation aspects, it’s about time that the minor touches are looked into to really make the game feel like it’s a live broadcast.
Every other aspect of the game’s already there (the visual cues, the audio) it’s just the minor stuff that’s just lagging behind.
The Bottom Line.
MLB The Show 22 is a solid entry in the series but it feels a bit too safe, without much significantly new. The core gameplay and the modes are still as fun as ever and the cross-platform multiplayer and progress are definitely major selling points though.
If you’ve bought last year’s edition, there’s really nothing really revolutionary to make you rush out to buy the game. It’s pretty much the same, but with some much welcome tweaks and modes.
Solid entry in the series but feels too much like last year’s.
- TV style presentation.
- Solid gameplay.
- Lots of modes.
- Cross platform play and progression.
- Not much new.
- Road to the Show mode could be more involved.