'MLB The Show 22' Review

mlb the show 22 review mobile
Sony Interactive Entertainment

They say there's a first time for everything.

And in the case of baseball simulation games, this is the very first one I've taken the time to seriously invest in as a player. For a sport that I only check out during YouTube home run highlights, I came into the Sony San Diego Studio developed MLB The Show 22 with little to no knowledge of the ins and outs of the sport. Even still, I came away from this insanely realistic portrayal of America's favorite pastime with a newfound appreciation for it all.

While there are some bugs/glitches I can't ignore and less than stellar portions of "Road to the Show" mode, MLB The Show 22 still proves to be the best (and only) officially licensed MLB game on the market (until next year's installment, I'm guessing).

If you've been engrossed in MLB The Show for the longest time now, you already realize just how astonishing its presentation truly is. Stepping onto any of the real-world fields to engage in some good old-fashioned baseball in this year's installment will treat your eyes and ears to the signature elements of the sport. The roaring fans, knowledgeable commentating booth, hype team celebrations, and more are amazingly lifelike, which is expected at this point. There are instances where the player immersion is broken, however, as the commentators spout off repeated lines and your pitcher freezes in place until he can move again during his next pitch. Those issues aren't annoying to the point where it disrupts the fun being had, but they're impossible to ignore.

On the game mode front, MLB The Show 22 is the ultimate haven for baseball aficionados. Road to the Show functions as the game's career mode, which follows a single baseball icon in the making as you build their legacy. I got a bit of enjoyment out of this mode as I pushed my team's rookie pitcher to greatness through impressive performances during games and engaged in destiny-changing conversations with my teammates & staff. What I didn't get any enjoyment out of were the minigames intended to increase my custom player's stats. Playing a training memorization game during player downtime is the farthest thing from intriguing to me.

"Diamond Dynasty" stands out as the most rewarding and exciting portion of the game. Building my own team out of current greats and past legends via cards is highly addictive - thankfully, there's a myriad of ways in which you can earn the currency needed to obtain the best card packs and miscellaneous rewards. Taking my fantasy squad into "Mini Seasons," participating in legendary baseball moments via "Showdown" sessions, and hopping online to engage in some co-op games are the three main reasons I kept coming back for more in Diamond Dynasty. "Battle Royale" is another portion of that main mode that I adore - drafting a 26-player team every time you enter and trying your damndest to beat other players' teams always got the adrenaline going. I will admit, though - I still have little to no clue how "Conquest" mode operates (and honestly, I have no desire to figure out its many intricacies). Longtime fans will get plenty of mileage out of this fantasy draft mode otherwise.

"March to October" is one of those additional modes that give you different challenges that reflect key moments during certain games. It feels good to play out a few short innings from time to time to break up the delivery of half an hour-long, full nine innings games. Keeping a win streak going and performing well boosts your players' stats as you keep playing, which can be nerve-wracking but amusing nonetheless. "Franchise" mode is what it is - you take on the role of a team GM and micromanage each and every part of your organization. I'll be completely honest - I was bored to tears when I dived into it all. I'm sure it's an integral part of the series for MLB The Show's enduring fanbase, but I just couldn't find any sort of fun when it came to negotiating contracts and engaging in player trade talks.

The gameplay foundation that's been put in place here feels super immersive and engrossing. Of course, I stuck to the Casual/Beginner difficulty mode just to get myself acclimated to the onscreen action at first. Pitching and batting at the lowest difficulty level eventually helped me improve over time - the game's "Dynamic Difficulty" feature also came in handy as it pushed me out of the minors and helped me make my way up to the majors. MLB The Show 22's usage of varied player animations, recommended pitching styles, and improved approach to zone hitting makes everything flow as smoothly as possible.

Hopping online can sometimes be a crapshoot when you're looking to play a full game, unfortunately. Hard crashes, plus regular pauses during crucial pitches and swings threw me off my game on multiple occasions whenever I tried out MLB The Show 22's online mode suite. Hopefully, a number of essential fixes are installed by the devs in the coming months in order to iron out those lingering issues. As a full package, I have to give MLB The Show 22 flying colors for all the things it gets right. The most devout baseball fans will find a lot to appreciate here - here's hoping next year's installment keeps everything I loved from this year intact.

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