MLB The Show 22 Review: Another Day at the Ballpark
The newest entry in the most popular American baseball franchise in recent years, MLB The Show 22, steps to the plate as the second multi-platfrom installment in as many years. While the San Diego Studios product doesn't bring too many new features to the diamond this year, it still knocks baseball simulation out of the park.
Remaining the best choice on the market for baseball fans, it continues to pull away from other baseball competitors with its pitching and batting mechanics, March to October mode, and online suite.
MLB The Show 22 Review: Another Day at the Ballpark
One of the biggest changes to the series for long time fans is the addition of Jon "Boog" Sciampi and Chris Singleton from MLB on ESPN Radio as the play-by-play commentary team (Matt Vasgersian had been with the series since the first game).
Better online co-op, including for Diamond Dynasty, has been added. March to October has been overhaul and can now be played for multiple seasons. Next-gen versions of MLB The Show 22 come with an improved Stadium Creator, although (sadly) this has been left out of the PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game. Lastly, the physics have received some tweaks to make the gameplay more true-to-life.
Graphically, MLB the Show 22 isn't much to write home about. The biggest improvements in this department were already made in MLB The Show 21 when switching over to the newest generation of consoles. It looks great, mind, but so does every other mainstream sports game at this point. There's nothing that really sets this apart from similar titles in terms of fidelity.
Much of the same can be said of the sound design. MLB The Show 22 has a solid soundtrack, but it and the commentary lines can become repetitive after a few seasons (something that, again, pops up in every other sports game).
For the most part, MLB The Show 22 controls really well.The gameplay systems, especially for pitching and batting, are incredibly in-depth, allowing for a rich and competitive experience. It can be a bit difficult to pick up and play, but mastering the system is incredibly rewarding; hitting doubles, triples, and home runs where you had been hitting fouls and striking out more often earlier in the season feels great.
When you're up at bat, you have different swings that allow you to go for more powerful or more accurate hits. You can control the direction of your swing so you're more likely to hit a pop fly into center field or drive a grounder to left. To help you improve, MLB The Show 22 does a good job of providing feedback on your previous swings.
The controls are satisfying for pitching, too. Each pitcher has their own style with different pitches to keep batters on their toes. Star pitchers like Shohei Ohtani will have more options than your create-a-character rookie to set them apart as greats, which is a nice touch of realism.
In-fielding and out-fielding also play well enough, although they lack the intricacies of pitching and batting for obvious reasons. The system is built in a way that lets you have as much control over a player's actions as possible and lets you even preload throws as you're catching to make sure you make the triple play of your dreams.
While there is much to praise about the system, it is admittedly a lot to learn for a beginner and can feel clunky in the early going. An issue I had come up often was controlling my custom character in the Road to the Show. I could get on base somewhat easily, but as the camera angles changed while running from first to second, my character would often stop running and stand between bases, waiting to get picked off. It's a kink you work out with practice, but it can prove frustrating starting out.
The main draws to MLB the Show 22 are the Road to the Show, Diamond Dynasty, March to October, and Franchise modes. Road to the Show is the create-a-character story mode and Diamond Dynasty is the ultimate team, kind-of-a-cash-grab card based game mode. Franchise is, of course, your standard multi-season franchise-building simulation.
They're just as solid as they were in 21 and will provide you with countless hours of gameplay between the games themselves and unlocking gear, cards, icons, and more.
While those modes remain largely the same as they have been, March to October has received a big overhaul that takes a previously overlooked gameplay mode and adds more content to it. In previous iterations of MLB the Show, March to October is a condensed version of Franchise mode: you pick a team and take them through a single season. However, unlike Franchise, you only play the most important parts of that season.
Now, March to October includes multiple seasons, and players can use custom teams. It's a relatively small change but one that makes giving the mode another look definitely worth it.
In addition to all of this, there are also solid gameplay modes like Exhibition, playing a non-season game against CPU or human opponents, and Retro mode, a game type that emulates old-school baseball games from the PS1 era, for solid couch co-op fun times. There are even weekly challenges to help you earn player cards, icons, equipment, and more; the highest scoring players will get extra rewards.
MLB The Show 22 Review —The Bottom Line
- The best MLB game on the market.
- Solid improvements to the series, especially to the March to October mode.
- Online modes with challenges updated weekly are a big draw for competitive players.
- Improvements and changes from MLB The Show 21 to 22 are minimal.
Ultimately, MLB The Show 22 is a powerhouse like most entries in the series, but it falls victim to the sports-game pitfall of yearly editions: it just doesn't add enough new features. Most long-time fans may not mind that, though if you're looking for an upgrade, this is just another season, albeit a good one.
[Note: Sony Interactive Entertainment provided the copy of MLB The Show 22 used for this review.]