MLB The Show 19 Review

When you take control of a top-ranked outfielder you’ll see the path the ball will travel.

Unfortunately, there are still times when controlling a fielder feels a little clunky. It’s almost as if MLB The Show 19 wants you to move close enough to the ball so that a pre-scripted animation can kick in, and it’s most noticeable when chasing fly balls and in Road to the Show. This issue has plagued The Show for years, and while it’s not game-breaking, player movement in general lacks the fluidity of other major sports games from EA and 2K.

I like the idea that each team’s season is essentially a mission within a larger game.

Still, I like the idea that each team’s season is essentially a mission within a larger game, complete with organizational specific prizes. I would guess there is a large percentage of casual fans who will appreciate the ability to get through the entire baseball calendar in a few hours, even if it feels more like a choose-your-own-adventure game than a full-fledged GM mode.

These challenges certainly spice things up, but at the same time gamify Road to the Show in an artificial-feeling way.

The main event is pretty much the same as last year’s Road to the Show: each action leads to points that are applied to various skills. Take a ball and your plate discipline will increase. Get picked off and your stealing rating will drop. This year, though, dynamic challenges make things a little more interesting. At various points in a career you are provided with a set of increasingly difficult tasks to choose from, and if you’re successful at it you gain a boost to a related ability. Short-term challenges, like driving in one or more runs, ramp up the tension for a key at-bat. Others are long-term, such as getting six hits over the next three games. These long-term challenges, in particular, give weight to a whole series. Go 0 for three in the first of those three games and the intensity for the next game really increases. These challenges certainly spice things up, but at the same time gamify Road to the Show in an artificial-feeling way. I’m not sure that “get a single with a power swing” would ever be said to a hitter on the real diamond.

The only thing available for purchase in MLB The Show 19 are Stubs, which are the primary currency for buying packs of cards in Diamond Dynasty mode. These are also earned through all modes of gameplay, but if you want to play less MLB The Show 19 and still play with all the rewards, Stubs start at $0.99 for 1,000. (Naturally, the more you buy, the cheaper they are; a pack of 24,000 Stubs will run you $19.99.) It takes 1,500 Stubs to buy the cheapest pack, all the way up to 7,500 (or $7.50 in your Earth dollars) for one that contains premium items. Participation in Battle Royale, Diamond Dynasty’s draft mode, also costs 1,500 Stubs after one complimentary entry. When people sell or buy items on the in-game exchange, Stubs are the way to do it. In fact, you can even use MLB The Show 19’s currency to boost your budget in Franchise mode.

It’s no trick to make Stubs, if all you want to do is make Stubs. Using the secondary market to flip cards that you’ve won, pulled, or earned can get you a lot of Stubs fast. However, the rate in which you earn them through regular gameplay, not counting bigger payouts for meeting objectives, is slow. This can make spending cash on Stubs appealing if you’re chasing something like a Diamond Mike Trout card. That said, $2 for a chance at big prizes in the Battle Royale or from a regular card pack isn’t unreasonable.

Of course, if you aren’t interested in playing the economic simulation that these modes can become, the trickle of free cards, objective prizes, and Stubs from various modes has kept Diamond Dynasty enjoyable for me without spending real cash.

New presentation elements look and sound great.

Across the entirety of MLB The Show 19, new presentation elements look and sound great. Improved score widgets offer more relevant information than before, such as the current batter’s hitting line for the day. The various broadcast packages, including one that mirrors the MLB Network, look appropriately modern and enhance the illusion that you are watching a televised game. Also, new dynamic camera angles kick in when you select your pitch, breaking up the monotony of looking at the back of the pitcher. The aforementioned sideline reporter Heidi Watney skirts the Uncanny Valley, but generally offers interesting and timely commentary.

The Verdict

MLB The Show 19 continues the series’ slow march of progress, though with a bigger step this year than last. Moments and March to October offer fresh ways to experience the outstanding gameplay, complete with the refinements on the defensive side of the ball. By integrating overt RPG mechanics into the player progression, Road to the Show has evolved into one of the deepest sports career modes currently available, even if it feels like less of a true-to-life simulation as a result. MLB The Show 19’s refreshed looks and sound closely replicates real MLB games on TV, thanks to some nice camera angles and graphical touches that emulate broadcasting. The biggest disappointment is Franchise, which continues to be the mode that’s left behind. Overall, this is the most compelling version since The Show 12 initially added Diamond Dynasty mode.

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