【MLB THE SHOW 17】-REVIEW 

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Ken Griffey Jr. once said, “You lose, you smile, and you come back the next day. You win, you smile, you come back the next day.” Griffey Jr. graces the cover of this year’s version of the Sony’s Baseball series, MLB The Show 17, and his outlook on the game of baseball aptly embodies the pure joy and satisfaction of playing it. Win or lose, you’ll be back for more.

As a series, The Show has consistently satisfied baseball fans for a decade, so it’s no surprise that The Show 17 is just as impressive. Each year, there are enough tweaks to justify making the jump, and The Show 17 continues the streak. The extraordinary breadth of improvements, which range from improved ball physics to a narrative-forward story mode, brings more progress than what we are used to in a single year from an annual sports game franchise.

Easily the most eclectic entry in the series to date, this trot around the diamond offers incredible depth for baseball aficionados, while making general gameplay even more accessible for casual fans. The Show 17 has an astounding ability to deliver meaningful experiences in both short bursts and over the long-term, without abandoning its pursuit for a more realistic simulation.

IS THIS REAL LIFE?

At the core, on-the-field level, The Show series has taken steps over the years to make the virtual game of baseball as close to its real-world counterpart as possible by frequently updating and upgrading player reactions and movements. In The Show 17, ball physics have caught up to the realism of its player models. At the crack of the bat, rather than jetting on a rather straight, but unnatural path, the ball slices and draws, influenced by topspin and backspin, and possesses a more close-to-life hang time — all of which are determined by the contact and angle of the bat at impact.

The change makes both batting and fielding less predictable, thus hewing closer to reality. A line drive that would previously, and unrealistically, tightrope along foul territory can delineate from its path, skipping and veering across the line. Fielders, both player- and AI-controlled, react organically.

Along with realistic mechanics, the game’s new “Showtrack” presentation emulates the presentation of an MLB Network TV broadcast very closely. All the graphs you would see while watching an MLB Network game appear on-screen: If you hit a home run, the replay displays a graph of the launch angle, exit velocity, and hang time. Every aspect of the game’s layout — announcers, scoreboard layout, and music — is dead on. At a glance, a baseball fan might see the game on your TV and might confuse it with the real thing.

ME FIRST OR TEAM FIRST, THAT IS THE QUESTION

The gameplay refinements naturally enhance the game’s create-a-player mode, “Road to the Show,” which has been blown out as a full-fledged story mode. Taking a cue from other sports series, such as FIFA and NBA 2K, The Show 17 has a dynamic narrative that unfolds throughout your humble beginnings as a fledging minor leaguer to your first appearance in the Majors to your possible induction into the Hall of Fame.

A fan might see the game on your TV and might confuse it with the real thing.

The game’s narrative unfolds during dialogue sequences, called “pave your path” moments, where you make personal decisions that affect the clubhouse.  You can choose to be “me first,” and protect your career, or “team first” and make a sacrifice for the sake of the team.

For example, you may be called into your manager’s office to discuss a position change from infield to outfield. If you agree, you might find your way up to the Majors quicker, but at the expense of your chosen position. On the other hand, if you refuse, might not get as much time on the field if a teammate outperforms you at your position.

After showing resistance to switching from shortstop to left fielder, our manager asked which position we’d like to play instead. We decided to throw him for a loop and chose starting pitcher, to which he responded dismissively, and benched us for the first time that season.

Your career trajectory primarily comes down to how you play on the field, but your off-the-field choices add a layer of depth and consequence that feels personal. Sometimes the decisions you make off the field have just as big an impact as anything else, and that prospect makes the Road to the Show arc feel like a more believable take of the dream.

 

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