Review: MLB The Show 17

America’s pastime is long past its glory days. No longer is Major League Baseball the force that is was during the last century, with the flashier NFL and NBA brands having usurped baseball as the most popular sports in North America. There is still, however, a large and dedicated fan base (which I’m certainly apart of) that loves to watch their team for 162 games a year and all of the history and ambience that it brings. When it comes to video games these comparisons are really one in the same. As the only major simulation style baseball game on the market, Sony San Diego has been asleep at the wheel in terms of innovation when compared to its sports genre competitors. This isn’t to say that there isn’t a good game of baseball to be had in The Show because there is, but its peers, from NBA 2K to Madden and recently the FIFA series are doing better and more creative things in the sports games ecosystem and are beginning to lap The Show as the shining bastion of sport franchises that it once was.

The biggest and most hyped mode in The Show has and will always be the Road to the Show since the game’s introduction way back on PS2. In 2006 it was a novel and inventive idea to take a user-created player through the trials and tribulations of a team’s farm system and finally make to the big leagues as a September call up. In 2017, however, that magic is lost after years of basically revamping and retooling the same basic system. In MLB The Show 17, Sony San Diego has tried to spice this up with the Pave Your Path system, but it all seems like an inferior version of the NBA 2K series’ MyCareer and FIFA 17’s The Journey. Making choices about position changes and other bureaucratic decisions isn’t compelling with no voice acting, no real character development from your player, teammates or executives around you. Couple this with the cheesy documentary style narration that tells your story and the Pave Your Path addition makes you feel like you’re taking part in an episode of BBC’s Planet Earth rather than the interesting story of a Major-leaguer.

Aside from the pitfalls in the storytelling department, the changes made to the gameplay and makeup of the mode are solid. The subtle gameplay changes that make fielding more than just a crap shoot helped me get into playing on both sides of the ball. Micromanaging skills and abilities is a well done for the most part, but the often-obtuse UI present did stand in the way of fully enjoying the RPG elements. Other features like year-to-year saves are a significant stand out from Madden’s create-a-player mode, but overall Road to the Show is a step back from what its contemporaries are doing.

Another area where The Show 17 fails to live up to its peers is its microtransaction-laden Diamond Dynasty mode which falls far beneath EA’s Ultimate Team modes in nearly every instance. To start, the lack of a definitive seasons mode and competitive structure makes building up a team feel a lot less rewarding than being able to climb up the ranks in Madden or FIFA’s Ultimate Team modes. Couple this with weaker card collecting mechanics than even FIFA or NBA 2K and it shows just how seemingly halfhearted some of the key features to a sports game have been cobbled together by Sony San Diego.

The icing on top, however, is the place where The Show 17 is able to keep up with its rivals: the eye roll inducing microtransaction system. The best players in the game are locked behind what is essentially a pay wall unless you’re willing to devote every second to Diamond Dynasty. This is extra deflating when combined with the fact that Major League Baseball has by far more history than the other four major American sports. This would seemingly allow The Show fails to make historical players a huge selling point for Diamond Dynasty. Nevertheless, they too are basically obtainable through in-game currency, which dilutes their inclusion to fleeting thoughts of how many hours would I have to devote to this before I could actually get Ted Williams, that for the most part, taints the whole experience.

That all being said, in this sea of negatives that’s been painted, there are some bastions of positivity in The Show 17 and the saving grace is they mostly comes from the biggest component to a sports game: the gameplay. Pitching is simply yet effective and connecting with a ball at the plate is satisfying. A baseball game is an interlocking system of mini games and The Show nails each one of these perfectly. Each element from stealing a base, turning two, picking off a runner and everything in between is fluid and perfect at encapsulating what makes baseball a beautiful game.

Animations have also been improved so as to not to interfere with basic in game situations. No longer are shortstops holding onto balls a few extra seconds to allow a runner to leg out an infield single. Instead, animation shift fluidly and allow you to feel much more in control with a number of fielding situations. Swings, throws and catches are seemingly more true to life and make a heck of an impression in the way playing the field feels and looks.

In addition to the gameplay changes, the presentation on display in The Show is unmatched by anyone, save the NHL franchise. The integration of MLB Network displays in games give an added sense of realism that fake mock ups of presentation elements lack. Combine this with the terrific commentating from the trio of Matt Vasgersian, Harold Reynolds and Dan Plesac do a great job of breaking down the action and are some of the most responsive commentary that I’ve ever heard in a game.

Retro Mode is also introduced this year and while it’s not a huge standout it does deserve a bit of praise for what it brings to the table. Being able to quickly jump into a sports game is a big deterrent for a number of people and having a mode that cuts out all of the extra fluff from years of improvements is a commendable venture that hopefully will get maybe a few old timers to give it a try. It’s not super deep by design and while that might a be turn off to the hardcore, having it around for parties and get togethers isn’t such a bad thing.

Closing Comments:

Just like its real-life counterpart, MLB The Show 17 has become antiquated by today’s standards. Novel ideas that it once spearheaded have grown into tired old clichés that other franchises have expanded and improved upon. The Show 17 is fundamentally sound, but doesn’t move the sports genre forward. It will appease longtime fans that flock to it year after year, but until the series does something remarkably different, it’ll fall short of being able to stand out of the pack. This year’s version of The Show does a lackluster job of making it seem like anything more than a yearly roster update built upon the same foundation of last year’s game and that is by far the heaviest critique that can be handed down to any yearly sports title.

34 thoughts on “Review: MLB The Show 17

  1. Charles, I have a genuine question for you.

    Have you actually played the game? To quote you…

    “This year’s version of The Show does a lackluster job of making it seem like anything more than a yearly roster update built upon the same foundation of last year’s game”

    The only conclusion I can draw from this is that you have not.

    New commentary team, new player models, vastly improved ball physics, introduction of MLB Network, I mean I could go on, but this is one year where MLB The Show has taken huge steps and almost feels like a new game. The improvements they’ve made are quite frankly outstanding,
    What do you want them to do, reinvent the rules of baseball?

    I have to say, this is one of the laziest reviews I’ve seen in a long, long time and quite frankly you’ve done SDS a major disservice.

    You should be ashamed at this “review”

  2. Last years version was the best baseball game I’ve ever played. From what I’ve read already, they kept everything that made last years version great and added plenty of features to make the game feel fresh. Not sure how anyone could give this game a 6 out of 10 when it’s basically last years incredible game with more features and better gameplay.

  3. Ultimately a click-bait review trying to siphon off readers wondering who was so out of touch to post a 3/5 (6/10) review on Metacritic. Shame that you don’t like Baseball, because that’s what this is: a stellar Baseball game. Quite possibly the best ever delivered.

    Seems as though you’re leveraging your preference of other sports against this title. “Other franchises have expanded and improved upon.” Please tell me one other Baseball game that has released in the past three years that has been better than The Show. Can you? No.

  4. What the hell?
    “This year’s version of The Show does a lackluster job of making it seem like anything more than a yearly roster update built upon the same foundation of last year’s game”
    Sorry, but I’m pretty sure you haven’t played this game at all (or longer than 1 hour), but you had to write a review, so we got this here. Sorry, but nah. A lot more features, better graphics, better commentary, MLB Network, the awesome Retro Mode, etc. etc.
    Sorry, but your review here is garbage. Played ~10 hours already and this game is the best MLB game I’ve played by far. And it really IS amazing.
    I’m pretty sure you have not played this game at all.

  5. What kind of bullshit Mickey mouse review is this? There always has to be one person that has to be edgy on some mediocre website that is purely click bait. You clearly haven’t played the game and don’t like baseball.

  6. Worst review ever. Either it’s click bait or the reviewer has not even played the game. How can you not even touch on the new ball physics which, by itself, make this in my opinion possibly the biggest update ever.

    • The ball physics weren’t too crazy noticeable in my opinion and sort of just seem like a marketing check mark that sports game developers tack onto every new game, but if they are that game changing for you that’s awesome!

  7. I can’t comment on this game, as I have not played it yet, but, unless this series somehow turned into trash between last year’s game and this year’s game, I cannot understand for the life of me how NBA 2K’s MyCareer and FIFA 17’s The Journey would seem favorable. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

    • This game very very bad as its been nothing but tweaks and a roster update since 2012 and I thought the review was very honest and accurate on this uninspired cut copy and paste franchise.
      They are even using last gen player models man I would kill for some high heat baseball with real interaction and skill and not forced dice rolls AI .
      MLB The Sham is a shame and I give it .5 out of 5 stars !

  8. LOL at this “review.” Go back to playing whatever POS flavor of the month shooter game is out. This is the best iteration of The Show I’ve ever played and I’m highly critical of games. Animations, ball physics, player models, presentation have all been greatly improved. High frame rate mode on the PS4 Pro when playing at 1080p is incredible. FPS drops have been my biggest criticism of this game over the last several years. Not anymore. Game gets a 10/10 from me.

  9. This review is a disgrace to baseball as a whole… there’s not much you can do with the game… other than improving, visuals, gameplay and sound… and out of those… the announcers are horrible…other than that… you can’t evolve a sim game…

    • I think there’s a lot more you can do in terms of modes and features sets that mix up and make the gameplay more interesting. Also I thought the announcing was super responsive and dynamic!

  10. Well since my comment was removed I’ll post another. This review is bullshit. This is the best baseball game I’ve played. I don’t usually buy sports games in back to back years because there usually aren’t alot of changes that warrant a yearly purchase but that changed this year. The additions to ball physics, critical situations in franchise mode and road to the show (the mode that I play most) are enough reasons that made me buy this game.

    I can’t stand reviews like this. Poorly written half assed reviews that pan a game to get gamers outraged so they can get clicks.

  11. Problem with your conclusion on “but until the series does something remarkably different”. What do you want them to do? Make a slugfest game from Midway. This franchise has been beyond perfect representation of the MLB brand for decades and the amount of detail that goes into these games are crazy. You won’t see these in any other sports title. The FIFA series is a very close second though.

  12. To me anything less than a 9 for the Show is questionable because hands down there isn’t a better baseball sim on the market.

    So this game is a 6/10 based off of what comparable game exactly?

    I just don’t get that.

  13. Sometimes, reading comments saves me a lot of time reading a bad article.

    This is one of those times.

    Where’s the author to explain the problems people are pointing out with this review?

  14. “It doesn’t move the genre forward”

Leave a Reply