MLB 10: The Show was one of my favorite games of last year. For weeks, I would waste away at work thinking about how I would spend the next set of training points, or if I really could have legged out that triple. Now, while this may sound like borderline obsession (it is), MLB 10 became more than just a game to me. It became my chance to play in the big leagues. So when I found out I was going to get a chance to sit down with MLB 11 at GDC 2011, it took a lot of willpower not to squeal like a teenage girl.
The first thing that really stuck out to me was the incredible level of detail Sony had committed themselves to. The broadcast camera angles introduced this year brought the presentation to a new level of realism. Unlike other sports, baseball doesn’t have a uniform outfield in every stadium, leading to different camera views. MLB 11 manages to preciously nail down these angles for every stadium to the point where a passerby thought I was watching an actual game at first glance. Sony has also kept in the custom camera allowing users to fine tune every detail, including position and size of the pitching meters. While this may seem frivolous to the casual fan, this dedication to realism is evident throughout the title.
Also new this year is full analog control. The controls were extremely intuitive, but have a learning curve attached. Pitching is accomplished by pulling back on the right stick, followed by pushing forward and towards the direction you want the ball to go. This may have a more realistic feel to it, but I was having difficulties hitting the strike zone at times, let alone painting the corners. Batting is done in a similar manner; pulling back to step and pushing forward to swing through. Perhaps the most rewarding use of analog controls is fielding. By pushing the stick towards the base, I felt I had a lot more control in placing the ball, trying to catch sliding fielders. However, if you load up too much power that routine toss to first becomes a rocket into the stands.
Player attributes are going to play a much bigger factor into the accuracy and power of throws this year. Delmon Young may be able to launch from right field to third with a perfect throw, however I wouldn’t suggest having Manny Ramirez attempt to zing one in. Thankfully, traditional button controls are still present for those who want them.
Road To The Show mode has also seen some tweaks when creating your player. During the initial creation, you’ll be shown three sliders allowing you to choose between arm strength/fielding ability, speed/power and contact/power. While I don’t know how this will influence the player outside of initial creation, it’s a nice touch if you want to make that ball-bruising outfielder you’ve always imagined yourself as.
The actual creation mode is as robust as ever, allowing for an intimidating amount of customization to facial characteristics. I would personally have liked to see more long hair choices instead of the standard Lego-press on hair found in the previous series, but considering a vast majority of ballplayers have shorter hair, it’s not a complaint worth noting. Outside of the hair and not having a pronunciation for my last name already programed in, the creation mode continues to impress. (Note to Sony, it’s pronounced Knee-ler. Cheque’s in the mail.)
Overall, the game is looking pretty impressive and I’m eager to get my hands on it when it comes out this Tuesday.