MLB The Show 19 Review

MLB The Show has never been a game to make huge overhauls year in and year out. Instead, they take what they have and improve it.

With a solid foundation, MLB The Show 19 continues to be one of the top sports games in terms of gameplay and realism. MLB has always been about the little things, and this year is no different.

Game Modes

This year MLB The Show has added two new game modes that tie into Diamond Dynasty. The first is March to October: a season game mode designed to speed up the way you get through all 162 games. It gives you a nice little video sequence telling where your team is at, and the expectations going into the 2019 season. You then start the season with a challenge. How you perform in these challenges dictate the whole season. If you do well your momentum will fill up and as a result your team will win more games. If you do poorly, then you’ll lose more games.

The rewards are based on what team you choose which is split between tiers: Favorites, Contenders, Underdogs, and Longshots. You then select a difficulty. The higher the difficulty the better the reward. Admittedly when this was announced I was not too excited for it, but my expectations were blown away. This game mode is incredibly fun and is a much faster way to get through the season.

The other game mode is the Moments game mode.

Moments allows you to relive baseball history by taking control of past teams or players throughout the years with specific goals. Some are simple and just one at-bat; some track your progress throughout multiple games; and some of these moments are alternate moments, a “what if” scenario.

Most of the time the rewards are stubs and XP for your profile. However, complete a whole saga and you will get a specific card based on what you accomplished. They went back and put in models and unique attributes for each moment that you play, and the attention to detail was really impressive. The players even had stats. It’s not 100% accurate, but the effort to make it the best as it could was there.

It’s clear they are pushing more players towards Diamond Dynasty, but they are doing it a really consumer-friendly way.

This game mode is a blast to play and a pretty neat way to get stubs and other rewards. That said, I do wish they had a video sequence when you beat a moment. Once again you start with a video when you make a selection, but when you beat a challenge you get your stubs and XP and it all just ends. The rewards are nice but not everyone plays Diamond Dynasty, and offline players might not have any reason to play this game mode other than reliving history.

The rest of Diamond Dynasty remains largely the same, with Conquest, Battle Royale, and Missions. The game now includes a new signature card series as well as unlockable sounds and bat flip animations. You also get a choice packs where you select exactly what you want in the pack. As well as XP reward path which can give you unlocks anywhere in the game, and will give you better rewards the more XP you got. A nice little addition here is an option to quick sell or place in your lineup from this menu. It’s clear they are pushing more players towards Diamond Dynasty, but they are doing it a really consumer-friendly way.

Franchise mode remains largely the same, but with more accurate contracts. There is still a weekly budget to the dismay of many, but if you played it last year then you should be familiar with everything already. While it is nice and familiar, it does feel like a disappointment that franchise mode has yet to receive a facelift of any kind.

Road To The Show continues to be the headliner, and this year they improved their documentary style story. The archetype system has been changed, and there is no longer a cap on any attributes. Instead, your archetype changes how fast your selected attributes train. If you’re a contact hitter then contact attributes are gonna go up faster, but your power attributes will train slower.

New to the mode are personalities and relationships. The more you play with your teammates the higher your relationship with them will go; how you talk to them changes the perks you can get from your personality. The perks are sorted into four categories: Heart and Soul, Maverick, Captain, and Lightning Rod. The higher your level in one of the personalities is, the more perks you unlock.

You are limited to how many you can have in each tier, and once you select the perks you want you are stuck with them for 30 days. There is also a rivalry system in place which will also affect your personality. Training is still in the game to improve your caps and attributes to 99 as well as mini-games similar to NBA2k’s training center. Occasionally when you do one of these you will be met with a challenge from one of your teammates. Accomplishing these challenges can give you double XP in your attributes that you used for that challenge.

There are also dynamic goals that will pop up in certain situations which will also give you more XP for your attributes. Unlike the challenges, you get to choose which one of these goals you want. Typically ranging from easiest to hardest, these goals will also give you an attribute bonus.

The last type of challenge is the boss challenge which shows up from time to time when your opposition is a superstar. It’s clear that Road To The Show got the most love and had the most additions this year. With how great this game mode is, it should be a standard that every sports game career mode should attempt to accomplish.

Presentation

The presentation this year is also a place where the game improved. Right away when you’re pitching you’re going to notice how the camera will show you different angles before you throw the pitch. This is more of an odd choice and kinda left me uneasy at first, but the camera will go back what your camera choice is once you select the pitch. And you can turn it off whenever you want.

It was the most exciting sac-fly I’ve ever had…at least until the runner didn’t tag up from 3rd.

Personally, I want to get used to it, as it gives a new way to view all the detail the art team worked on this year. I feel like some jerseys pop more, and the lighting has been improved. Some players have new scans and faces, but nothing here to really blow you away.

This year the crowd reacts better to what is happening in the game. A blow out happening in the bottom of 9th? You can hear a pin drop. But a big-time hit in a clutch situation and that crowd will roar. Even the players will react.

I’ve had moments in the bottom of an inning, late in the game, where my player was celebrating, jumping up and down after I made contact. It was the most exciting sac-fly I’ve ever had…at least until the runner didn’t tag up from 3rd.

There are some new graphic overlays, which is a welcome addition and the MLB Network remain. Something I really like is the new pause menu. Giving you an overhead view of the field, and easy to access any information that you want to see.

The commentary is largely the same as last year which is not bad, but some people may think hearing Matt Vasgersian saying the same things as years previous is getting stale. Some players and moments will have unique lines, but some of these repeat a little too much.

Lastly, there is a new reporter in the dugout area. Heidi Watney joins the team and is a much welcome addition to the game.

Gameplay

On the surface, gameplay might not look too different. But what you see and feel is completely different.

For once contact hitters do not seem as completely useless as year’s passed when power seemed like the only thing that mattered. The defense got overhauled and makes a huge difference in how the game plays in the field.

A player’s rating will be showcased by an icon underneath the player in the field. If the player has a bronze or silver rating, then they’re pretty average and will usually be okay in the field. However, put someone in the spot that does not have any clue what is happening and he will be more prone to errors, bad angles, and misreading the ball off the bat. Luckily reaction times for errors have been drastically changed.

In past games, if you bobbled a ball you would have to go through the whole animation before being able to go after the ball. Now the player will accurately react to the play on the field. This is a huge step up and is way less frustrating. I don’t necessarily agree with all the ratings personally. But considering all the customization the community does rosters. I would not be freaking out about it.

There have been a few weird glitches such as the ball going through my bat on a check swing that was called a ball

The biggest change to gameplay is with pitching. The tweaked the way plate coverage works, and the speeds and breaks of the pitches. While it may seem minimal, this changes the whole game. You can time up a pitch perfectly, but if the barrel isn’t on the ball, then it will probably be a blooper. That does not mean it’s gonna be an out though as the ball physics mix well with the new defensive overhaul.

Balls that hang in the upper part of the zone tend to be punished more than past games. Speed will change with difficulty, but if you’re facing Aroldis Chapman and he throws you a 103MPH high inside fastball it will be harder to get around and actually hit it. The difference between slow pitches and fast pitches have also been changed. In the past, it seemed like change-ups would be a killer when you’re at the plate, but that no longer appears to be the case.

This year the timing is still noticeable but works in a much better way than before. That said, don’t feel like this makes the game too easy or hard either. It might be harder at times to hit the ball when you first try a harder difficulty, but if stick with it you’ll get the timing down.

The bunt glitch appears to be fixed, and the bunt rating seems to matter a lot more now than it used to. Check swings to me were a bit strange. I understand the logic behind it, but occasionally they would just get it completely wrong and sometimes the ball would even go through my bat.

I have noticed a couple of weird things as well. For instance, Cincinnati is spelled wrong at The Great American Ballpark. There have been a few weird glitches such as the ball going through my bat on a check swing that was called a ball, some annoying AI goofs, and occasionally weird physics bugs will make their presence felt.

Verdict

Overall, MLB The Show 19 is nearly perfect with the vision that San Diego Studios had. If they just made something different in Franchise mode, then it would be a true masterpiece. Even then this is still the best baseball game to date.

MLB The Show 19 Review
  • 9/10
    Gameplay - 9/10
  • 8/10
    Game Modes - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Presentation - 8/10
  • 10/10
    Longevity - 10/10
Overall
8.75/10

Summary

Overall, MLB The Show 19 is nearly perfect with the vision that San Diego Studios had. If they just made something different in Franchise mode, then it would be a true masterpiece. Even then this is still the best baseball game to date.