As a child, I was lucky to bear witness to the two best Toronto Blue Jays teams of all-time, with those obviously being the 1992 and 1993 World Series Champions. The country was buzzing about its most popular (and now only) baseball team, and I was obsessed with collecting as many sets of their McDonald’s cards as I could. Meanwhile, my family would occasionally go to the games and get ice cream in these awesome little replica helmets of both our team and the one they were facing. Those were fun to collect, too.
Needless to say, my love of baseball, and sports in general, started at a young age. While NHL hockey soon overtook Major League Baseball as my favourite and most passionate sporting interest, I’ve never lost my love of the Blue Jays and continue to support them a number of years later. That said, I’d be lying if I didn’t recently go through a rut where I had a hard time watching games, likely due to poor mental health and burnout.
Over the years, I would occasionally pick up a new baseball game, but mostly stuck with three favourites: Major League Baseball Featuring Ken Griffey Jr. for the N64, MLB Slugfest 2003 for PS2 and The Bigs for Xbox 360. Those games stole hundreds or thousands of hours from me, and remain some of my most beloved. Sure, they were also all arcade games, but that didn’t mean I didn’t occasionally buy and enjoy MLB: The Show on PS2 and PS3.
Yes. Only those consoles. It’s been a while.
When I was asked to review MLB: The Show 22, I was admittedly a little hesitant. After all, I hadn’t played the series in a number of years, and had passed on last year’s because I didn’t have much free space on our review Xbox, and knew it’d take a long time to download too. However, my curiosity and lifelong interest in baseball (and t-ball, which my dad coached me in despite not being into sports) won out.
With power hitting pitching phenom, Shohei Ohtani, on its cover, MLB: The Show 22 marks the series’ second stint on next-gen consoles, not to mention the second year in a row that it’s appeared on Xbox. Now, it’s even on the Nintendo Switch, allowing fans to take the action with them.
This particular review is of the PlayStation 5 version. It just felt right to play it there, for old times’ sake.
Simply put, The Show 22 is a big and well made game. There’s no denying that. If you’re a massive baseball fan, it should be right up your alley.
Newcomers and returning fans can look forward to a bevy of modes, including staples like Franchise and Home Run Derby. Of course, the fan favourite options Diamond Dynasty — where you build a team using baseball cards, and can now play mini-seasons with different levels of challenge — and Road to the Show also return, among others like Postseason Play. Rounding out this simulation experience are historical moments to replay, MLB legends to use, online co-op/competition in Diamond Dynasty and the ability to create a ballpark on next-gen consoles.
If you pick this thing up, or download it from Xbox Game Pass, make sure to have a good amount of time at your disposal. Like the real life sport, things in The Show are time consuming. After all, baseball has never been considered anywhere close to the world’s fastest game. This is something I personally have difficulty with because, despite the accessibility options and shortened game settings, getting into a baseball game is a time consuming ask, and I play too many games to play them as much as I’d like. That’s another reason as to why I passed in recent years.
Road to The Show — my favourite mode — is especially involved and lengthy, as it allows you to create a lifelike player and take them from the minors to the Big Leagues. For me, this began in New Hampshire, where I manned second base (difficult) or right field, and attempted to be the team’s trusted power hitter. All the while, I was partaking in mini games to simulate hitting, training and athleticism drills, including Pilates. As I did so, and performed decently in games, I would increase my player’s skills and earn points to upgrade them.
On the gameplay side of things, one can look forward to a number of different control options. In fact, there are around four control methods per play type, with those being batting, pitching, base running and fielding. Thus, you can customize your input types.
Although I played through all of the tutorials, and tried out things like directional versus timing hitting, metered versus zone pitching, and different types of throwing inputs, I ended up sticking with what was most familiar. Call me basic, but they seemed to offer the most control. Regardless, I was thoroughly impressed by the amount of options, as far as hitting, pitching, throwing and base running controls go. You don’t normally get so many in sports games.
That said, I never felt truly connected with MLB: The Show 22. Don’t get me wrong, though, and read this as if I’m saying it’s a bad game or one that I didn’t enjoy, because nether thing is remotely true. It’s just that, like with previous instalments, I didn’t fully click with this one. No matter what control method I used, it never felt perfect, and I didn’t feel as in control of my player(s) as I do in games like NHL 22, which has tighter controls. Maybe it’s because there are so many options, which forced the developers to spread their focus? I don’t know. I just know that hitting seemed a tad inconsistent, pitching was slightly too difficult and my fielders wouldn’t always throw the ball when I’d press a base specific button.
Of course, I’m not talking about major issues or game breaking problems. Just minor inconsistencies and annoyances that left me feeling like the controls weren’t accessible or tight enough. Issues would only pop up occasionally, but this is something I’ve found with these games since the start.
If you’re a returning fan, who buys The Show every year, you’ve likely adapted to these minor inconsistencies. They’re also likely more noticeable as a relative newcomer.
Simply put, MLB: The Show 22 is a very well made and feature rich game. It’s just not perfect, or as tight as it could be. I personally preferred my time with the aforementioned arcade games, but truly respect and appreciate this series, not to mention how important it is to a number of people.
For the first time in series history, this particular instalment also features a new commentary team, to complement video footage featuring different experts that is scattered throughout Road to the Show. Matt Vasgersian is gone, and in his place we have Chris Singleton and Boog Sciambi. Is it an improvement, though? Not in my opinion. The new commentators are rather good, and really pick up on minute details of each game, but I miss Vasgersian. Furthermore, there are some obvious tweaks to be made, because the new duo would state that players were making their Major League debut while I was in Double-A New Hampshire. That’s a good two leagues away from the Toronto Blue Jays and Major League Baseball.
I did, however, really appreciate that they’d call my first name and a chosen nickname whenever I entered the batter’s box. That, as well as the incredible amount of player customization options, including being able to choose my walk-up and home run music from a decently varied list.
On the visual side of things, MLB: The Show 22 continues to be impressive. It’s a real, lifelike, looker, which features thoroughly impressive character models. The lighting wasn’t always perfect, there was some clipping to be seen, and I saw some odd animations and glitches, but generally speaking things were impressive and almost always seamless. It’s a lot like watching a real life TV broadcast.
At the end of the day, it’s easy to recommend MLB: The Show 22. It’s a well made, feature rich and beautiful sports game, which now offers online co-op and cross play for those who are interested. There’s lots of bang for one’s buck here. I just wish that the controls — which use a mixture of face buttons, meters, sticks and timing — were tighter, and can’t support the micro transactions that allow you to spend real life money to buy things like card packs.
There’s a really solid game here. It’s just not as tight or as user friendly as I’d hoped it would be.
This review is based on the PlayStation 5 version of the game, which we were provided with by PlayStation Canada.
- Immersive and realistic
- Lots of control settings and customization options
- Feature rich
- Doesn’t feel perfectly tight, in all parts of the ballpark
- The odd glitch or hiccup
- The new commentators aren’t an upgrade