The MLB franchise made a huge spark last generation in the mist of EA & 2K battling each other, the outcome was EA losing the rights to have a MLB game. But those two really didn’t pay much attention to what the exclusive MLB was doing on PS2, every year it kept growing and surpassed both of them as we entered this generation.
Beginning with MLB 07:The Show on PS3 the initial impact was made, it featured the most authentic simulation of the sport. With four MLB games after that and each one pushing the series to the next level it has become clear that MLB The Show established itself as the best baseball video game market.
Next year San Diego studios returns to push the series further, ESPN have have put up the first preview of the upcoming PS3 MLB 11: The Show and it sounds like yet another pennant year for the series with AL catcher Joe Mauer once again as the cover Athlete for MLB 11.
“MLB 11: The Show” is anything but a roster update with a few new custom animations thrown in to fool consumers that this game is something new. In fact, this might be the biggest jump in terms of both control and gameplay enhancements the series has ever attempted in a single year.
The biggest change to the game comes with the addition of Pure Analog Control. That’s right, buttons are about as hip these days as players wearing stirrups, so Sony has finally changed the control scheme for hitting, pitching, and throwing to be all analog based (although if you want to play old school and use buttons, you can still find last year’s controls in the options menu).
“This is the feature everyone has wanted in our game for years, but we didn’t want to do it until we could do it right,” says longtime “MLB” producer Chris Gill as he sits down to demo the game for me inside Sony’s San Diego studio. “People have been asking for a new way to play the game, and now everything you do, whether you’re swinging the bat, throwing to first, or pitching the ball, it’s all done with the right analog stick.”
Sony has also added true zone hitting into the game. Here, hitters can select the option of not only needing to fine-tune the timing of the stride and swing, but will also need to move a cursor onto the ball as it reaches the plate in order to make contact. According to Gill, this is an option the hardcore fans have been wanting for years. “Again, if we were going to do it, we wanted to make sure we did it right,” he explains.
In terms of pitching, the meter the game has been using for years has been revamped a bit to incorporate the new controls. Once pitch and location are selected, gamers will pull back on the right analog stick. This causes the ball on the meter to drop toward a line about three-quarters of the way down. As soon as the ball hits the line, the pitcher will then press up on the right stick, but here’s the twist — if your location is on the outside part of the plate to a right handed batter, you’ll need to press up and to the right in order to guide the ball into the target that will appear at the top of the meter
On top of the new control scheme, “MLB 11: The Show” also features a fun new co-op mode that can be played both online and offline. Co-op can be 1 vs. 2, 2 vs. 2, or even 2 vs. CPU, with online games using up to two consoles max, meaning if it’s a four-player game, two players can be on one console playing against two players on another console.
Think that’s all that’s been added to the game? Think again as the exhaustive list of improvements made to the “MLB: The Show” franchise also includes Move support for the game’s home run derby mode, 3-D gameplay (all you need is a 3-D TV and glasses), and a camera editor that enables you to customize any pitching or batting camera to your own personal specifications. There are even the exact broadcast views for every MLB team so you can play the game as your favorite team from the exact same viewpoint you watch them play for real. Amazing.
Other highlights include Eric Karros joining the booth alongside Matt Vasgersian and Dave Campbell, completely redesigned stadium-specific jumbotrons, and dynamic rain and cloud coverage that not only takes into account stadium location, but the wet field will now affect the on-field results.
I am a huge baseball fan and this franchise has always delivered in simulating the sport and from the looks it the MLB 11: The Show will take the franchise to a higher level of Authenticity, I can’t wait to play this latest installment in the franchise.