The Show Community Preview Report #1

Posted January 30th, 2009 at 12:00 am


After about five hours with the game today and more than that to come tomorrow there will be plenty to discuss about MLB 09 The Show. I wanted to get some initial thoughts up now and follow that up with one that will probably be more extensive tomorrow night.

First, there are some restrictions to what I am able to talk about. Those basically amount to the topics that are slated for coverage in the upcoming weekly Playstation Blog postings. I’ll be able to go over those areas a day after they are released. So if it seems like I am leaving out certain areas of the game or not answering certain questions that could be why. Or it might be that I just don’t have an answer or opinion on it based on what I’ve gotten through.

We have been cleared to snap screenshots using the built-in feature in the PS3 as well as save highlight clips. I’m hoping to have a bunch of those to post up tomorrow or over the weekend. Thanks to those who left some requests on Twitter. I was able to get a few of them and will look at grabbing more as I go.

The build being used is near final as there is still some final bug fixing going on even as I write this. I spent all of the time today playing exhibition games with tomorrow being when I’ll dive into Road to the Show and possibly Franchise. So at this point I can only offer up some general thoughts and observations.

Throughout the evening the group was joined by a stable of producers. Chris Cutliff (Director of Product Development), Chris Gill (Senior Producer/Gameplay), Chris Clements (Lead Animator), Brian Ma (Senior AI Programmer), Jason Villa (Producer/Online), Jody Kelsey (Producer), Kolbe Launchbaugh (Senior Designer), Aaron Luke (Designer), Marcus Efting (Lead Production Tester). Much appreciation goes out to them for committing the time to interact and go over different aspects of the game.

For those people who played MLB 08 it is a very familiar feeling jumping into 09.  Unfortunately I can’t talk about the changes to the pitch meter yet as that did take a little while to get acclimated to. But outside of that not much has been messed with. They’ve only taken what they had and made pretty much everything that much better.

It would be impossible to point out everything that is right about MLB 09. So just to mention the first thing that jumped out at me…the lighting looks fantastic. The outdoor elements add a unique feel as well as the differences between sunny, partly cloudy, overcast, and night games. It especially is striking how good the game looks in the two new stadiums.

The chant creator worked really well. It took the recorded chant and made it sound like it was coming from the crowd and not an individual. While this is something I still doubt I’ll be using I think anyone who is looking forward to it will be pleased.

A new post game highlight reel has been added. This is a really nice presentational touch, one that I would actually sit through which is not the norm. Impressively the replays being shown were very much relevant to the outcome of the games. Home runs and strikeouts at critical moments were what I saw the most of.

It is difficult to proclaim anything about the game considering all the variables. User skill, difficulty level, acclimation to the new game, ect. However it seemed to me that runs were being scored primarily off home runs. The hit variety I saw was actually quite encouraging. I just couldn’t seem to string hits together, and watching some of the games that were played on Legendary difficulty (which I won’t even bother attempting) they were getting singles and doubles but were scoring their runs off the long ball.

As far as collision detection they have tried to limit the situations where players cross through each other. There are still instances where it happens though. While it is a visual oddity it really doesn’t take anything away from the game for me. It would obviously be better if it didn’t happen, but it doesn’t affect the outcome on the field which is the most important thing.

While online is an area that I can’t speak to the specifics on yet, I can say that I am more encouraged about it having received much needed attention. I spent some time talking to producer Jason Villa about what they’ve done to improve performance, the online leagues, and a few other various enhancements that will be found online. However we’ll only know for sure if the game runs well online once it is released. As far as Playstation Home there is nothing for this year but expect some tie-ins next year.

Overall Rating: #1 Red Sox – #2 Yankees – #3 Cubs – #4 Phillies – #5 Mets. More ratings info to come tomorrow.

Now to respond to a few questions and a few more random observations:

  • Mets outfield wall is blue. SCEA was not provided many details about the new stadiums and have done the best they can with them under the circumstances.
  • All uniform details are taken directly out of the MLB provided style guide and following it exactly is a requirement. So if any combos or specifics are off that is out of the hands of SCEA.
  • There is a mandatory HDD install the first time you start up the game.
  • I don’t believe there is any “weather” effects other than wind and the sunny, partly cloudy, overcast, and night conditions.
  • The sunglasses look nice. Don’t remember seeing the eye black on a player but I wasn’t looking for it.
  • Guess Pitch is still in the game as an option
  • The throwing urgency for infielders seems better. There were some instances where they were still a little slow getting the ball out but I didn’t have any that resulted in hits because of it.
  • Still had times where the SS would run for a ground ball up the middle and it would just go by him without any attempt animation being made
  • I also felt frustrated on some check swing calls when I felt like I held up. I could be wrong though.
  • Just a minor observation but it seemed like an awful lot of foul balls were lined right at and bouncing off the benches down the foul lines. It happened an inordinate amount of time almost as if those benches were attracting the lined fouls.
  • There did seem to be more doubles, or at least the potential for them. Got some nice doubles over the heads of outfielders.
  • Saw a pitcher wearing a jacket when running the bases, looked really cool.

Alright that is all for tonight. Make sure to follow my Twitter as I’ll continue to do some updates there during the day and will give about an hours notice if I am able to do a live blog from the room.