By Josh Moore
Sony’s MLB Franchise has been receiving some pretty huge buzz in the last couple of years. It’s been featured through extremely popular commercials and has also received a huge amount of critical praise. Everyone I’ve talked to is blown away with how realistic the game is, and critics all across the board have praised the game for how well it captures the sport. It’s regarded as one of the highest rated sports games of all time. I remember my cousin telling me that he wished that the development team at SCE San Diego would just drop the ball so that he didn’t have to buy the game every year. I’ve yet to really find anyone at all who doesn’t like MLB 10: The Show. Except for me.
It’s not from lack of trying - I’ve given the game a very fair chance to win me over. My two favourite things in the world are baseball and video games. I remember the off-the-charts reviews that last year’s iteration of the game was getting. I remember running to the game store near my house the day it was released to buy it. I remember wanting to tear the plastic wrap off of the game and play the damn thing the second it touched my hands. And then a funny thing happened that curbed my excitement quite effectively – I finally PLAYED the game.
My brother and I both played the hell out of MLB 10 the Show. We both admired the beautiful graphics and detail in the ballparks and players faces – how well they captured Kevin Youkilis’s grizzled, ugly scowl, Derek Jeter’s pretty boy-child face. We were both amazed by the in-depth and detailed Franchise and Road to the Show Modes. We both marvelled at the smooth in game animations and general attention to detail that went in to the game. But the longer we played it, the less we liked it - once the initial allure and enchantment wore off, we realized how little fun we were having.
It can be a very infuriating game. For one that prides itself on realism, it has some gaps in logic. The pitching system works by choosing your pitch, aiming it, and then inducing a golf meter a la the MVP Baseball series of a few years back. You have to try and build up the meter for power, and then release it on the way back as close to the little black target as possible. The irritating thing about it, though, is that when you nail the meter, the pitch very rarely goes where you aimed it. I realize that throwing a pitch exactly where you want to is a very difficult thing, but if Roy Halladay is pitching and uses perfect pitching mechanics, he should be able to throw his fastball exactly where he wants to. The same inconsistencies happen when you are hitting. You will call a pitch, think you have it perfectly timed and then ground out weakly to second base.
I understand that this game is meant to be unforgiving. I get that it’s supposed to be realistic and that hitting a curveball is a difficult thing to do. I played little league baseball. I know that I can’t hit a curveball. I don’t want to be tortured by the fact any more. I just want to have fun playing this game.
The Road to the Show mode is also very in-depth but very frustrating. It can be a lot of fun to lead a player you created through the minor leagues all the way through to the hall of fame, but often the fun is derailed by stupid unnecessary stuff. I had a pitcher who was 12 – 0 and had an era under 1.00 in double – A and the manager decided that it would be a good decision to demote me from the starting rotation and put me as a mop up reliever in the bullpen. Clearly any time you have a pitcher putting up legendary numbers in your starting rotation, the only wise move is to take him from that role and place him in your bullpen so that he can pitch once a week when your team is down by eight runs. That’s just a move you’ve gotta make every time.
The longer my brother and I played, the more our true opinions of the game surfaced:
“What do you think of The Show, Daniel?”
“Oh, it seems pretty amazing.”
“Yeah the attention to detail is ridiculous, it’s pretty incredible.”
“You still enjoying MLB 10?”
“Yeah, it’s pretty good, I guess.”
“I just threw a fastball in on his hands! Why did he just hit a homerun?”
“That’s so stupid.”
“This game is stupid.”
“Want to play MVP Baseball 2005?”
I truly appreciate the work that has gone into this game. I think the team at SCE San Diego is incredibly talented, and I think they love baseball and have made some really impressive steps to making a really great baseball game. I just refuse to buy into the hype that has been thrown at this game and this series for the last couple of years. I spent more of my time being frustrated while playing it rather than having fun.
I just want a game to capture my love of baseball, not question why I liked the sport in the first place. Is MLB 10: The Show the “greatest” baseball game ever made? Maybe. Is it the most fun? Not even close.