The Wrap-Up: MLB 09 The Show

Posted March 6th, 2009 at 6:55 pm


At times I’ve had some difficulty writing about The Show over the last couple months which is actually due to what a quality product 08 was. Usually you can assess the previous iteration and have an idea of what you’re looking for out of the next. With 08 the only real glaring weakness was with online play. It is tougher to identify and discuss the improvements to a game when it was already so good to begin with.

So that’s where I start when evaluating MLB 09 The Show. I already knew it was a really good game. But would the enhancements and additions stand out when playing it extensively? And has SCEA done enough to justify the purchase of a game that didn’t add any big new features? Continue on for “The Wrap-Up” on MLB 09 The Show.

When I say there are no big new features that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything that stands out immediately because there is. The lighting in the game is amazing. There really is no other sports game that comes close to how well it has been done here. Graphically overall MLB 09 could stand up against any sports title released and is arguably the cleanest and best looking of this generation.

The authenticity on and off the field is unmatched. It’s the little things that really makes everyone recognize what an achievement the game is and adds a great deal of longevity and value. You appreciate the work that went into the game more because of that. Gameplay wise the best way to sum it up is by saying it is a fantastic simulation of the actual sport. It is a baseball video game, not video game baseball.

The pitching meter has been adjusted some for this year and it results in pitches being less reliable. And that is a good thing. I like to pitch from the behind the pitcher view, with no strike zone, ball cursor, or vibration. It makes it very challenging to spot pitches accurately. The result is more excitement and nerves and realistic pitch counts.

Working the count in The Show is the best way for success at the plate. I still struggle to string together hits which ends up meaning more runs are accounted for via the home run than probably should be. I think that could be something that varies from user to user though.

Road to the Show has received some enhancements, though I really didn’t notice many differences at least that stood out in my time with it outside of some new options. I still prefer being a relief pitcher but now that they’ve offered the option to skip base running I’m going to consider playing a position in the field. Unfortunately for those who actually like running the bases the camera is broken which makes for an adventure. Still the mode helps separate the game from the competition in terms of depth and variety. It’s good enough that it could stand on its own as a separate game but you get it included.


The screenshot feature is actually something that is built into the PS3 that any game can take advantage of but few have. Thankfully The Show includes the functionality and it is the best to date. The image quality is fantastic and unlike other screenshot features it isn’t limited to taking them in replay mode. As long as you’re playing MLB 09 you can capture anything that comes on screen including on-going gameplay action and while in the menus.

They also added a highlight saving feature. While they don’t have a way to upload directly to a website like EA and 2K do you can transfer them to your computer just like the screenshots and upload them to a hosting site from there. The quality is quite good as well although they don’t come out in full HD. The thing is that recording the highlights is anything but user friendly. It is really awkward and difficult to utilize. While you have full freedom to move the camera around you can’t do cuts so you’re seeing all the movement as opposed to being able to cut to different angles.

I’m not a fan of the home run cut scenes. I’d rather get to see the ball sailing out. The instant cut to the batter for his reaction could be powerful if it was rare but seeing it every time now takes some of the excitement of a big home run away.

The loading times once again are on the long side. That hampers the experience especially for people going through Road to the Show at a quick pace. Loading in and out of gamesĀ  frequently just accents how long those load times are. This is probably more of a PS3/Blu-ray issue though than it is The Show’s fault.

I really hope that SCEA doesn’t cave to the people who are claiming the game needs to utilize the right stick more. If they do I’m pleading to only make right stick functionality as an additional option and not the defaults. Innovation for the sake of innovation is not a good idea. There is no reason to change the best pitching system and best batting system on the market today in order to present a image of innovation via the gimmicks of their inferior competition. The only RS functionality I actually like is throwing to the bases. The others offer nothing more than being able to claim they are innovative and “next-gen”.

Online play has been the achilles heel for SCEA’s MLB franchise for years now. Unfortunately that continues to be the case. Click here to read the most extensive online play analysis available for MLB 09.

The Wrap-Up

MLB 09 The Show isn’t just aimed at gamers but also at the hardcore baseball fans. It is remarkable the level of authenticity and polished gameplay being offered. This is a game that is selling PS3s. It’s a game that the Madden developers are praising. However online play continues to prevent The Show from providing the total package and fulfilling its potential to be the best and most complete sports title on the market.