When I was young, I’d spend long summers at my dad’s house. I’d spend the afternoons playing basketball, maybe hitting baseballs with a friend. But the mornings and evenings? They were all SNES all the time, and therefore they were almost always all about Final Fantasy of Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball. The latter of which essentially drove my interest in pro sports long before I ever played organized sports myself. In the best way possible, with Griffey on the cover no less, MLB The Show 17 is the best baseball video games have ever been, and sets a high bar for the series and the genre going forward. This is our MLB The Show 17 review.
It’s a nice touch that The Show 17 lets you bring over your rosters and saves from last year’s game, and here’s hoping The Show 18 does the same. That may seem like an odd thing to mention right off the bat, but like all good sports games these days MLB The Show sees a new release every year, and being able to essentially carry over franchise and roster progress is a godsend. Your solo, online, and fantasy modes are all intact with minimal upgrades. There’s a retro mode that turns The Show into a sort of arcade baseball game with 16-bit graphical overlays and more. It feels like a bit of a missed opportunity, but a mode worth expanding upon in the future. Quick and dirty couch and online matches like this would be awesome.
The real star of MLB The Show 17 is no doubt the Pave Your Path mode. In it, you create and caretake your own professional rookie. You start at the draft workouts, and work your way up from AA to the Majors. Your coaches may change your position as you go even, suggesting you try something like 1B instead of 3B if it seems like a better fit. It’s all done in a sort of documentary style that you might see on Real Sports. The downside is that it seems slightly impersonal, as though you’re on the outside looking in with the cutscenes. That said, it’s a far great RPG impact on the game than the Show’s previous efforts.
As a fan of RPGs and sports games, this is what I always wanted from a baseball game. Make my own digital best self, fight him up through the minors, while actually leveling up his stats and working to improve his game to become a legend before he’s too old and retires. You only control your player’s actions, so games go super fast, meaning the prospect of actually getting through a season or more is feasible. I mean really, with 180+ games between pre, regular, and post-seasons – does anyone ever finish a baseball season in its entirety without simulating some of the games?
Controls are flawless, graphically the Show is about as good as we’re going to get before hitting that uncanny valley. The only rough spots are the stilted commentary and repetitive scenes in the Path modes. But it all fades away when you’re fielding a line drive and turn a double play, or when you crack a ball into the right field bleachers and watch your own hometown hero round the bases pumping his fist in the air. This is America’s Pastime still, even if its status as such has taken a backseat to the NBA and NFL. And when it comes to the video game form, MLB The Show 17 is the best baseball has ever been.
NOTE: MLB The Show 17 was reviewed on the PS4 with a retail copy provided by SCEA PR.