#8 of 2010 – MLB 10: The Show

Posted December 20th, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Perhaps due to reaction garnered by MLB 10: The Show the series is making some significant changes going into next year in an attempt to provide a feeling of advancement. Though The Show has remained amongst the best in sports gaming in terms of quality it has seemed to settle in and avoid taking any risks. Doing so made some sense…consumers were happy and sales numbers were rising. Despite that it has become more heavily scrutinized especially as The Show acts as a quasi-exclusive title.

The ranking of games in the best of 2010 list is based on the personal amount of enjoyment had with a particular title, whether advertised features were fully delivered on, post-release support, community interaction and communication, overall gameplay experience, feature set, and online play performance. Again this is largely a personal take on the games and not a recap of those with the highest scores on Metacritic. The analysis is weighted heavily towards those which I had the most fun with while considering them as a whole and compared relatively to the field.

(Related: Alarming Dissatisfaction NumbersOnline ImpressionsNo Prerelease Demo)

There was probably nothing more fitting as it relates to perception of MLB 10: The Show than the way the demo was handled. SCEA made a deal with Best Buy to have the game at kiosks exclusively and not put out a pre-release demo on PSN. Even worse is that company representatives suggested a demo was coming and then got completely silent on the topic choosing to ignore it and hope people would stop asking.

It seemed pretty clear at the time that outside of making a deal with Best Buy, Sony likely saw a demo as possibly hurting sales more than helping. There wasn’t much of anything different in terms of gameplay and in playing a demo the thought may have been that people would determine it wasn’t a necessary purchase. Despite a hefty feature list the basic gameplay felt familiar to 09 with only subtle upgrades.

The game had some serious issues that needed to be patched. Those included a lock-up experienced when playing at Tropicana Stadium, lots of bugs relating to Franchise mode, and intentional walks online resulting in disconnections. Even one of the patches had to be fixed itself when it introduced a new bug that counted runs that crossed the plate on third outs.

The dissatisfaction poll results showed how the tide was turning on The Show based on issues and a perceived lack of improvement and changes from the previous year. There was even a statement by an official rep that a patch wasn’t being worked on because everyone had gone on vacation…presumably just to mess with people who had been asking when the patch was coming. That is pretty poor tact when dealing with fans of the series and those that have helped it get to where it is today.

Online play continues to languish with the same excuses repeated and the same claims that improvement is being made having not materialized. No matter how good the game is there is no reason in 2010 to have such a poor online experience in basic one vs one games. Even simple fixes like stopping opponents from “quick pitching”, the pitch meter being visible while batting, and turning off “guess pitch” have not been addressed.

Despite all these things MLB 10: The Show offered a consistent and highly detailed gameplay experience. SCEA continues to nail the small details that make the sport what it is. Its modes, though relatively untouched or with additions that weren’t terribly compelling, continued to offer a deep experience and variety. Roster updates were once again handled well and delivered on a weekly basis.

While still a very good game there were some missteps made with MLB 10 that likely humbled the PR/marketing side and hopefully will lead to more considerate handling of situations going forward. The development team remains incredibly dedicated and detail oriented producing a very organic experience. Online play though still is the achilles’ heel of the series. MLB 10: The Show just wasn’t a big enough advancement over the prior year to elicit much excitement.

#8: MLB 10 The Show
#9: NHL 11
#10: NBA Jam
The Worst of 2010
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