Replay Value:
Online Gameplay:
Overall Rating:
SCE San Diego
Number Of Players:
Release Date:
March 29, 2016

Hey, remember when we thought those old Madden games in the ‘90s were just mind-bogglingly realistic? Sure, they still didn’t look like the real games on TV but we figured, “well, how much better can they look?” Oh, we learned the answer to that ridiculous question soon enough, didn’t we? Perhaps more importantly, though, the strides taken in the gameplay and physics departments have been even more impressive (to my mind, anyway) and these days, sports simulators are pretty damn hardcore. One of the biggest reasons they don’t appeal to just about all gamers – as most sports titles did back in the day – is simply because they really are simulators now, and as such, they cater to the hardcore sports aficionados.

And at this point, I just gotta ask: What more can you possibly want? I mean, I know technology gets better and better so I shouldn’t fall into the trap I outlined above, asking silly questions about “how much better” our interactive entertainment can get. Even so, I think we’ve reached a zenith of sorts, and maybe only VR can push us over the top. I mean, just looking at the gorgeous player detail and animations in MLB 16: The Show puts a smile on your face. Being a long-time baseball fan, I love to see our national pastime portrayed in such an authentic fashion, from the stunning design and liveliness of the stadiums to even the smallest, seemingly trivial, player movements. This series has always excelled in the realm of graphical achievement but this really takes the cake.

Beyond the pleasant, sun-dappled green of the outfield grass is the sound. Anybody who has gone to a baseball game and truly appreciates the experience knows what I’m talking about: It’s the roar of the crowd as the ball sails deep, that exciting crack of the bat, the cries of the umpire, the announcer, the music played through the stadium speakers. It’s all here and it all sounds spectacular. The commentary is excellent as well (even if it isn’t always 100 percent spot on) and the soundtrack, while really unnecessary, is just fine. This is all about capturing the look and feel of baseball and although we don’t have any competition for The Show , I doubt any other franchise could top this level of technical and atmospheric prowess.

Me, I go straight to the gameplay with any simulator. It’s by far the most important element of any game, of course, but nothing can save a sim with unrealistic physics or shoddy control. The fans want authenticity. They demand a stiff challenge and a steep learning curve because that appropriately reflects the sport in question, and just how good the athletes have to be. With MLB , I always start with the pitching, partly because I want to see how the game handles defense. The latter aspect is the kicker in so many baseball games in the past; it must be very difficult for the developers to handle defense, simply due to the lack of reaction time a player has. A ball comes off the bat, the camera has to change, and you need to take control of the nearest player and perform accordingly.