The new version of the Sony classic, MLB The Show 21, could have been content to show us stadiums full of fans that we would have been satisfied. That is to say. But we’ve also tweaked this video game with more realistic animations than ever, a fun stadium creation mode, and pre-configured levels that let even beginners feel like they’re in control.
First, good news for owners of Xbox, Series X and S just like One. For the first time since the franchise debuted in 2006, the game produced by the San Diego studio of Sony Interactive Entertainment is no longer a PlayStation exclusive and is docking at Microsoft. Despite rumors, however, the game is not available for the Nintendo Switch.
From the outset, we are entitled to a new presentation that allows the player to choose between three levels. “Casual” is the one that will appeal the most to beginners, with simplified controls and lots of tips. « Simulation » aims to provide an « authentic » baseball experience, with more subtle control of the game. Finally, « Competitive » is the destination for pros who know the controls inside out.
We chose Casual, which is already a good challenge as the configuration possibilities are immense. That’s good, we must then move on to tutorials to learn the three main activities of baseball, throwing, hitting and playing defense.
To the five classic possibilities offered to the thrower, that is to say two types of fast balls, the sliding, the curve and the change of speed, we have added this year a curious control that you will need a good time to master, called « pinpoint pitching ». . Essentially, with left control, you have to draw a pattern that will give a complex direction to the throw. Honestly, dozens of attempts haven’t really let us understand its intricacies.
Welcome haptic touch
In defense, we have refined a tool that gives much better control: a gauge that appears when a player catches the ball, and that must be kept in an optimal green zone to obtain the most powerful and most precise throw possible. The catch is facilitated by the reflection of the ball which appears on the ground.
To rediscover the feel of a baseball game, its slowness, its technical complexity and the flashes of action, MLB The Show remains the undisputed leader. Here we take advantage of the haptic touch of the PS5 controller, much more subtle than the old vibrations. We feel for example the blow on the ball, the race of the player towards the goals, the tension in the arm of the thrower.
It would be tedious to go around all the modes, Battle Royale, Diamond Dynasty, Seasons and Moments, Home Run Derby, 15 in total. Note that in the Road to the Show mode, where we create and manage a player’s career, three real sports journalists will intervene from time to time to comment on your progress.
The challenges of creation
But the big news, the one that it seems has been requested by fans for years, is the Stadium Creator function. You can create and save around 30 stadiums by controlling just about every parameter that comes to your mind, from altitude to the color of the grass, including the countryside or downtown? -, the arrangement of the fences, the shape of the scoreboards and the decorations. Want lion statues, trees, and unlikely barriers? It is in this mode that you will be able to combine more than a thousand elements.
However, as with many functions in MLB The Show 21, we must first get out of the way to find the right commands and navigate through a lot of possibilities. This is one of the only criticisms that can be leveled at this franchise, a point on which it has not really been improved over the years: the successive additions have made it a labyrinth in which it is often difficult to walk. . A good cleaning in the interface would be required.
The verdict: still the best baseball game for its realism and the countless subtleties in the controls. You clearly have to be a baseball fan first to appreciate it, which obviously not all video players are.
MLB The Show 21
Sony Interactive Entertainment
For PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X and S, X Box One (tested on PS5)
Price: From $ 79.99
Release Date: April 20, 2021