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April 2024

MLB The Show 22

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Sports
Release Date: April 5, 2022


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PS5 Review - 'MLB The Show 22'

by Redmond Carolipio on May 30, 2022 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

Take your Ballplayer across game modes to own every at-bat, every pitch, and every play and now you have even more ways to play than ever before.

Buy MLB The Show 22

We are almost two months into the 2022 Major League Baseball season, and MLB The Show 22 cover athlete Shohei Ohtani is off to a solid start. As of this writing, the Angels' two-way superstar is carrying an earned-run average under 3.00 as a pitcher and already has a number of highlight-reel bombs at the plate, including a 442-foot blast against Oakland.

I bring this up because the presence of Ohtani remains the newest and most unique aspect of MLB The Show 22, which has mostly refused to take any big swings on innovation despite calls for it zipping over the middle of the proverbial plate from baseball fans since before the pandemic.

Whatever tweaks and adjustments I found here over the last game felt small, subtle, gradual — not unlike the slow and incremental progress fans can feel in their favorite teams' records or their favorite players' stats over a lengthy 162-game season (or seasons). One gets the sense that the franchise feels like it has "arrived" and has settled into a type of groove, content to consistently produce at a high level without having to make any further leaps. That attitude might work for a high-level pro athlete who puts up numbers, but for sports games … be careful.

It feels redundant to say this game looks fantastic because, let's face it, it's 2022 and we are in a second year of next-gen. Everything should look great. But Show 22 generally looks a little crisper and more vibrant than last year's offering, especially when it comes to lighting. It's still gorgeous. The scenery is enough to entice the digital version of yourself to grab expensive beer and nachos, find your seat, enjoy the game, mumble something about Mookie Betts' on-base percentage and then dance on the precipice of consciousness before passing out in the fake sun. Players still look amazing, with every fidget, facial tic and exhale displayed in immaculate glory. No cup adjustments from what I can tell, however. Player/character creation is still among the best in the business, as you can basically adjust everything from the top of the head down on your created player. That also goes for how they run, swing and pitch. That kind of depth gives players a sense of real ownership and loyalty to their player through any game mode.

The problem is that I could mostly say this about the visual brilliance from last year's game. The same goes for the mountain of options that can customize the playing experience for people of all skill levels, even ones who might have never picked up a baseball video game — or any video game — before. This range of accessibility remains a cornerstone of strength for the series. Someone who wants to blast out a game in less than 10 minutes doing nothing but hitting will find what they want, as will another person who wants to invest parts of his, her or their soul into every pitch, every at-bat, and every stolen-base attempt over nine innings while watching switching camera angles and mini-cinematics that bridge instances of action.

The new commentary team of Jon Sciambi and Chris Singleton helps to freshen things up, as their banter and energy are a welcome change from years of repetition in previous installments. However, if you play long enough, you too can eventually hear the well of thousands of lines of newly recorded audio run dry.

I usually have a tradition of running through the game almost solely from the perspective of the "Road to the Show" career campaign, but I eschewed that this time, mainly because it felt generally the same from last year's game. The Ohtani-inspired flexibility to become a player who can excel at hitting and pitching is still there, and as fellow WP reviewer Cody Medellin mentioned in his Switch/XSX review, carries a slight sense of cover-athlete-to-feature dissonance for anyone who's been following the franchise. The loadout system introduced in last year's game to improve and customize your player is back as well.

It also might be time to tweak the whole "unknown longshot enigma prospect makes good" trope when it comes to solo and career campaigns in sports games. I understand the time-tested thrill of a story that involves Someone Who No One Believes In finally getting to shine through Hard Work and Perseverance. Part of the joy of sports video games for me is living out fantasy, and for baseball, there are people who might want to know a grain of what it feels like to be a highly touted, five-star prospect carrying the burden of expectations — or at least a moderately respected dark horse with a wellspring of raw talent, not unlike the Wretch in Elden Ring (sure, we're crossing genres, but this felt right).

In "Road to the Show," once again, you're certainly made to feel just a little wretched — like last year, your baseball avatar is treated to sound bites from actual sports personalities, like Chris "Mad Dog" Russo and the MLB Network folks, upon your being drafted into the major leagues. The takes on your selection range from — and admittedly I'm paraphrasing and interpreting:

  1. This pick has a chance. Maybe. It depends. Could work.
  2. This kid's a waste of time. He will die.

Not exactly the air of awe and wonder that Tatis or Vlad Jr. got. It's also practically the same intro and backstory to the mode we got last year.

This time, most of my fulfillment came through March to October, the series mode that condenses whole seasons into playable moments that, when done well, can usher in a postseason run. Each aspect of on-field baseball is covered, so the moments can include big at-bats in a tie game, or a pitcher facing the heart of a team's lineup in the later innings. At selection, teams are grouped into different tiers that range from perennial favorites like the L.A. Dodgers to snowball's-chance-in-hell squads like the Pirates. This was the case in the previous game, but the difference in 2022 is that one can go through multiple seasons this way. In theory, you can get the thrill of experiencing a potential dynasty without having to wade through the minutiae of the extensive Franchise mode. Speaking of modes, this year's game still plays all the hits, no pun intended: Home Run Derby, Exhibition, Moments, and the ever-present Diamond Dynasty, where you can assemble a team from a variety of packs that you either collect or buy.

MLB The Show 22 is still among the highest forms of video game baseball available … right along with the game that came before it. It still plays exquisitely, and it's still definitely worth your time if you've never really experienced the series before. For veterans, however, this could be the moment where the game just feels … sort of "there," and the only big difference you'll notice is that this year's cover guy probably should have been last year's cover guy.

Score: 7.8/10

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