PLOT Play ball!
RATED E for Everyone
DETAILS PlayStation 4; $59.99
BOTTOM LINE Hits it right out of the park.
MLB: The Show 17 opens with the dulcet tones of Vin Scully over a live-action video of classic baseball moments such as Lou Gehrig’s famous “luckiest man on earth” speech and last year’s Cubs’ World Series win drawn by an artist in time-lapse on a chalk scoreboard, creating a mosaic of baseball history. The people who work on this game clearly love baseball.
Considering that the legendary Ken Griffey Jr. is the cover athlete, it’s no surprise the most-ballyhooed addition to The Show 17 is a Retro Mode that evokes the slugger’s own 16-bit baseball franchise. This mode tosses the complex simulation of the game aside in favor of a high-angle camera and simplified control setup — fielding, batting and pitching are all accomplished with combinations of the analog stick and the X button.
Road to the Show remains the best part of the game, and new this year is the Pave Your Path feature, which adds to the mode’s narrative by portraying key moments in your player’s career, such as being called up to the majors.
Across the board, every major mode got some love this year. Diamond Dynasty has returned and is as good as ever, bringing back last year’s excellent Battle Royale draft and also, for some reason, dragging concentrated anti-fun mode Conquest along for the ride again. Collecting virtual baseball cards and building a team across multiple modes in an attempt to stack your lineup with stars from all eras is still deeply satisfying. Playing Moneyball on the in-game marketplace was a blast, especially after recouping a meager $10 investment several times over to build a substantially stronger squad.
It’s hard to look at this year’s MLB game and not come away impressed by the sheer amount of content and number of modes, as well as the polished gameplay and player experience improvements. MLB: The Show 17 is a love letter to baseball and its fans.