Another year, another first-party MLB title from Sony. Can San Diego Studio keep up their consistent success with their latest baseball sim, MLB The Show 19?
Title: MLB The Show 19
Developer: SIE San Diego Studio
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Release date: March 26, 2019
As a series, MLB The Show has actually accomplished quite the feat in the past few years.
In an age where sports licenses for video games get gobbled up by singular publishers, Sony’s first-party baseball brand has outlasted some pretty heavy competition on its way to the top as a consistent, first-party success.
The perception that it’s the only game in town for annual, realistic baseball hasn’t lessened the quality of each entry either. Year after year, The Show turned in games that are as anywhere from solid to truly innovative and influential to other games across the sports genre.
MLB The Show 19 falls more in the former category. It’s not a drop-off for the series by any stretch, but rather it tweaks what’s already there just enough to keep the momentum going for another year.
Where the game truly shines is actually on the field. Player models and stadiums are still very easy on the eyes, as the lighting engine looks to have gotten a bit of a touch-up this year. The finer details, such as facial animations, are also still top-notch even with a few player likenesses that appear to be off just a bit. Fielding and batting animations got some big improvements as well, with more authentic stances and silky smooth double plays looking better than ever.
Something that isn’t new, but is just as impressive, are the number of gameplay options The Show 19 provides. Different control methods for pitching, hitting, baserunning and fielding allow for full customization for each experience. The best part of all is that they’re all easy to get into. Whether you prefer button controls or flicking the analog stick to get the job done, it’s makes things pretty simple.
Road to the Show is back and remains the standard bearer in terms of single-player modes in sports games.
The game’s Options Explorer mode that’s tailored towards trying out these options in a live game setting as well as a practice mode for those not wanting to feel that kind of pressure.
Speaking of modes, MLB The Show 19 has some new and old ways to enjoy America’s Pastime. Road to the Show is back and remains the standard bearer in terms of single-player modes in sports games. The deep customization and RPG-like elements you’ve come to expect are still present and accounted for.
The new additions this year, such as the emphasis of teammate relationships and in-game challenges are positives along with the much-needed removal of attribute caps. There are even weight training minigames that can help buff out your players’ stats that are actually pretty fun and engaging.
To the surprise of no one, Diamond Dynasty returns as well, and in probably a bigger way than ever. While it did get some touch-ups with Conquests and some new MLB legends joining the fray, its presence is felt more outside of the mode. Practically everything you do in or out of Diamond Dynasty actually trickles down to help you earn XP, cards, stubs and even entire packs at times.
While it remains one of the more rewarding card-collectors to play rather than buying into, some fans who like other modes more may find themselves annoyed but just how much Diamond Dynasty’s influence permeates throughout the rest of MLB The Show.
There are also a pair of new experiences packed in this year that also tie into Diamond Dynasty. March to October converts a season into bite-size chunks and can see players reap in rewards based on momentum, performance and what team is chosen to attempt a deep run to the postseason.
House That Hank Built
The self-explanatory Moments mode allows you to play challenges from baseball’s hallowed past for more rewards. These can range from at-bats to innings and even across multiple games. While it does lack some much-needed immersion, it can still be a fun time to blast through and re-write some famous scenarios.
Other mini modes like the Home Run Derby and Retro Mode are also back, but it would have been nice to see some MVP Baseball 2005-style minigames thrown into the mix. Especially given how good and creative some of the RTTS minigames are, it’s a shame there wasn’t an experience like it outside of the single-player campaign.
If MLB The Show were to stumble this year, it’s definitely in the franchise mode. It simply hasn’t seen too many new things added outside of contract structures, and the continued, puzzling exclusion of an online component remains a glaring omission. This year’s broadcast package is also pretty lacking.
While the MLB Network license is still a great sight to see and is implemented well, the commentary from Matt Vasgersian, Mark DeRosa and Dan Plesac just generally feels stale and far behind other sports games. This year’s addition of Heidi Watney as a dugout reporter is a nice touch but ultimately doesn’t save things in that department.
A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.