MLB 11: The Show Hits and Misses

by
Posted March 14th, 2011 at 10:45 am

SCEA’s MLB series has arguably been the most consistent sports franchise this generation. There is a reason why baseball gamers have flocked to it, and it isn’t just because the competition has struggled so mightily. For MLB 11: The Show the introduction of new analog controls represented the most significant shift for the somewhat risk-adverse series in years. Continue on to check out where the game succeeded and where it misstepped in this “Hits and Misses” review. 

Hits

  • Analog Pitching

Of the new analog controls it is the pitching that is far and away the best. There is quite a bit of control given to the user in both location and velocity that can be determined based on the movement of the stick. It is more fun than the just pressing buttons on the meter while not going as far as to make each pitch a “process” to complete with the stick.

  • Road to the Show

Check out full detailed impressions of Road to the Show. The performance based system is an immense improvement over the goal based system of previous years. That on its own makes the mode much more enjoyable and worth spending time with, despite the nagging issues of slow load times and out-of-place commentary.

  • Visuals

The graphics are simply stunning, with amazing stadium lighting, well represented player faces, and improved player models. The authentic broadcast cameras look great and add an additional challenge to pitching. The one glaring flaw comes with the lack of collision detection which just stands out more and more in such a detail-oriented game as the rest of the visuals advance.

  • Gameplay and Authenticity

Once again this is the area that The Show always nails and why it is so popular with hardcore baseball fans and not just fans of baseball gaming. Though MLB 11 just builds on what was already present that doesn’t change the fact that it represents the sport beautifully. The gameplay experience is realistic and reliable and the flow of the games just feels right.

Misses

  • Online Play

Check out full detailed impressions of online play. Though marginally improved online remains a weakness of the series. Connections are completely hit or miss resulting in either smooth games or ones that are crippled by lag. Regardless pitchers have a distinct advantage over batters. Just check out the leaderboard where even the top players hit under .200 and average 17+ strikeouts a game. The insistence of guess pitch being on in quick matches and league participation being prevented for two weeks after buying the game remain head-scratchers. Some very welcome options were added this year but until the performance is ironed out and better design decisions are made the online play for the series will not meet today’s standards.

  • Analog Fielding/Throwing

While the analog based pitching system is a complete success, and the analog hitting more polarizing, the analog throwing system is where the changes to controls falls short. Errors are frequent and in many cases the outcomes don’t make much sense. Safe throws can go off line inexplicably or display as though they were risky throws and there is really no explanation of why it happens or how to handle the system efficiently.

  • Audio

The commentary has quickly become very tired and bringing in Eric Karros for Rex Hudler was replacing one bad contributor with another. While baseball game soundtracks are typically my favorite of all the sports the soundtrack for MLB 11 is one of the worst in recent memory.

  • Load Times

Having plagued the series for this entire generation the slow loading times can be frustrating. This is no more evident than in Road to the Show mode where just as much time could spent loading as in-game playing. It could be that the mostly static loading screens make the waits feel even worse than they are.

MLB 11: The Show is one of the few sports games these days that consumers can feel confident they know what they are getting when they buy it. The game will accurately represent the sport, have top notch visuals, and provide a full feature set. Unfortunately where the series has struggled has been consistent as well. The analog controls at the very least breathed some new life into the series, and going forward it will do well to improve on overall presentation and online performance.

  • Anonymous

    Re: “out-of-place commentary” – The funny thing is, they have minors-specific commentary in the game.

    So I get that it would be highly unlikely that Matt V., Dave Campbell and Eric Karros would ever call a minor league game. But at least they have specific commentary for games in AA and AAA during RTTS.

    • Anonymous

      Decent game. It got an 8 on Gamespot which is exactly where I would put it.

      • Anonymous

        lol Gamespot and you have not even played the damn game

        • Anonymous

          Surely you can’t think I don’t have any friends who have the game. The actual gameplay and graphics experienced on the final version are not that much different from the demo.

          And I’m still buying it…at the trade deadline..or at least after the first OS rosters come out.

          • Anonymous

            Actually the graphics on the retail release look a lot better than they did in the demo, IMO.

          • sandul

            yeah 1080p is awesome. one of the very few games to use it.

      • Anonymous

        I think MLB 11 should be closer to an 8.5 or 9. The game is one of the best sports titles out there, but can’t seem to complete the whole package. It’s not perfect, but I think it’s better than “decent.”

  • http://twitter.com/vlnj13 vlnj13

    I like the analogue throwing mechanic, but there are just too many errors from humans and CPU. MLB 11 was almost a dream come true for me, minus the commentary and lack of a real-life feedback driven presentation such as MLB Today. Still, my favorite sports game, and very close to NBA 2k11′s greatness in terms of the gameplay experience and authenticity, with probably better modes. Good review!

  • http://twitter.com/Daveearl13 David Allen

    Has it been confirmed that the guess pitch is glitched or it is a change that they made to the Show?

  • Spaceg0st

    you’re kidding right? Analog throwing is as perfect as it can be. I play defense on LEGEND and may have 2-4 yellow throws a game, with maybe 1 error. Just practice.

  • Lorrne

    Good job pasta very fair look at the game unlike other places that just kiss their ass and ignore the problems.

  • http://twitter.com/eriklambertsen Erik Lambertsen

    Bryan,
    Your post is right on. A couple of nitpicking additions:

    *The analog pitching often puts you in a poor position to perform analog fielding, specifically throwing out base stealers.
    *The plate coverage indicator no longer moves. What used to be a useful tool to ease hitting, the plate coverage indicator remains stationary throughout windup and delivery.
    *While the audio is weak on some level, Vasgersian’s detailed background on selected players should be applauded.
    *The defense is more organic. I felt the animations in 09 and 10 were very similar. This season has a definitive lifelike feel.

  • Pevy1

    THE FIRST NCAA 12 SCREENSHOT IS OUT PASTA! THEY PUT IN DREADS!!!1111

    sorry for the caps

  • Josh

    The lack of collision detection is a huge killer for me!

  • Anonymous

    Audio miss???? Show me another game with the likes of this, guess you do not use the “Sounds of The Show” feature. No really fair to review audio/presentation then, all games commentary get repetitive as shit.

    - Pregame
    - Team Wins
    - Team Losses
    - Team Wins Pennant
    - Team Wins Division
    - Team Wins World Series
    - Base Hit 1
    - Base Hit 2
    - Base Hit 3
    - Run Scores
    - Home Run Music
    - Strike Out Music
    - Drawing A Walk
    - Stolen Base
    - Caught Stealing
    - Away Team Error
    - Away Pitcher Pulled
    - Clutch Out Recorded
    - Relief Pitcher Entrance 1
    - Relief Pitcher Entrance 2
    - Relief Pitcher Entrance 3
    - Inning 1 Mid
    - Inning 2 Mid
    - Inning 3 Mid
    - Inning 4 Mid
    - Inning 5 Mid
    - Inning 6 Mid
    - Inning 7 Mid
    - Inning 8 Mid
    - Inning 9 Mid
    - Inning 1 End
    - Inning 2 End
    - Inning 3 End
    - Inning 4 End
    - Inning 5 End
    - Inning 6 End
    - Inning 7 End
    - Inning 8 End
    - Inning 9 End
    - Team Cheer Chant 1
    - Team Cheer Chant 2
    - Team Cheer Chant 3
    - Team Jeer Chant 1
    - Team Jeer Chant 2
    - Team Jeer Chant 3
    - Team Cheer Yell 1
    - Team Cheer Yell 2
    - Team Cheer Yell 3
    - Team Jeer Yell 1
    - Team Jeer Yell 2
    - Team Jeer Yell 3

  • Rediceten

    One observation – you can’t use your music in rtts for your player this year either

  • Anonymous

    you can use you’re own music on here though, that makes the menu music better. but i actually really like the menu music this year, one of the best of any sports game imo.i also think the throwing system is pretty good and have only made 2 errors in 12 games…… but you are entitled to your opinion and i respect that. overall, a good write up.

  • Anonymous

    you can use you’re own music on here though, that makes the menu music better. but i actually really like the menu music this year, one of the best of any sports game imo.i also think the throwing system is pretty good and have only made 2 errors in 12 games…… but you are entitled to your opinion and i respect that. overall, a good write up.

  • SDwinder

    I have seen an adjustment in 11 to collision detection. Players dont go through each other except on sliding plays around the base. Plays around 1B, they bounce off each other, same with OF plays. I like this improvement. Not perfect, but a definite improvement and a step forward.

  • Timmy458

    My only problem with the game is the Analog fielding and throwing, mainly the throwing aspect since you could ease the stick to throw towards a base and it somehow is off target and drags the guy off the base. Other than that the game is really good.

  • Guest

    Guys the fielding isn’t a problem it just takes some getting used to. Sony said that throw power and throw accuracy are in the game this year. Throw power is decided by how long you hold the stick down, throw accuracy is decided by how accurate you are in your movement of the right stick toward the desired base. This means you can still miss a soft throw if you are not moving the right stick in a straight direction toward the base. My guess is that you guys are moving the stick in a diagonal motion instead of directly straight which is what I was doing when I first got the game. Just practice moving the right stick straight toward the desired base and you shouldn’t have any more problems.

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  • Tipleh

    For the third year in a row, the baseball during gameplay is a white “blip”. Why is it so difficult to render a realistic basebal sans MLB 2K 11′s? That is about the only gripe I have , as miniscule as it is.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5SHSZDHLUVDEDSAIEMWGRYKQOU Gavin

    The menu music far exceeds last years garbage excuse for a soundtrack. Also, if you don’t like the music you can put your own on it.

    Game definitely deserves a 9. Some areas need to be improved upon but which other game represents the sport it is made for better than the Show?

  • http://www.woodsidemediagroup.com/ Amani

    I look forward to hearing your review about the Online Franchise portion once it opens up. The success or demise of that mode could raise the score to 9+ or lower it to 7- IMO. Only one more week for that to open.

  • http://www.woodsidemediagroup.com/ Amani

    I look forward to hearing your review about the Online Franchise portion once it opens up. The success or demise of that mode could raise the score to 9+ or lower it to 7- IMO. Only one more week for that to open.

  • Mike Jones

    For some reason online play has been the “achilles heel” of MLB the Show. I purchased the game yesterday and it’s one of the most realistic looking sports titles I’ve ever seen EVER. I’m struggling to adapt to the new pitching mechanics but the presentation and attention to detail, I’m having a lot of fun just TRYING to get the new mechanics down(lots of eye candy here folks). I haven’t started “Road to the Show” yet but from what I’ve read it seems like I have a lot more “Fun” to look forward to down the road…

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  • Mike88585

    Why do they release the same game every year? Change the commentators, add the wbc, change the stupid generic players who are always black and have the same stance, wear their pants the same and usually have no batting gloves. Seriously I just pitched in rtts and every player in the other teams lineup was black and had the same generic stance! Add some generic white players for a change you idiots.

  • …..

    Online play, load times and the overall bland/scripted game play is enough to turn me away…..

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