April means the start of baseball season and another spring perennial — MLB The Show. The latest edition, MLB The Show 16, can require the most time commitment of any game — more than 200 hours. If you choose not to let the console simulate, you can play a lengthy season of 162 games and then proceed to the playoffs and World Series. In Road to the Show, the game’s most fascinating portion, you can play almost infinitely. You create a player, often in your image, and start out with Double A baseball in a small town.
Online, the experience is generally smooth, although you can’t play against friends or use the varied rosters the community’s posted for download, some with legendary players, without having a PlayStation Plus account. That costs $50 yearly.
Sadly, the many gaming options are presented in a way that’s jumbled and unclear. Where do you go as a first-timer? To practice? To Double A ball? To the full major league schedule? To the World Series? To a complex strategy mode called Conquest? The idea must be to leave the choice up to the player. A new feature called ShowTime lets you slow down a ball in the field so you can make a grand play.
The Show is wonderfully calming when the rhythm of pitching becomes Zen-like. As the controller beats like a frantic heart when the bases are loaded, the physiological feeling of vibration sends you inside yourself. But the experience as a whole isn’t completely fulfilling. The immediate challenge that remains is something as old as the hills — tiresome storytellers (the announcers). In an era during which we feel we don’t have the time to sit still on the couch for even an hour, listening to them pontificate is a royal pain.