Parents need to know that “MLB The Show 18” is a baseball simulation that’s the latest installment in the popular sports franchise. Players will have options for multiple control settings, as well as options to tweak player settings to fit personal game preferences. There’s no objectionable content, although there’s heavy product promotion throughout. Unlike previous years, players can’t upgrade player stats directly by paying for enhancements; instead, purchased baseball packs with either earned in-game tokens or real money frequently include new baseball players and stadium cards. Players can also be exposed to inappropriate content in online games, because these matches are unmoderated.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
“MLB The Show 18” is the newest edition of Sony’s long running baseball franchise, and it’s been revamped from the ground up to completely refresh the game. While the Road to the Show mode keeps the “fake documentary” narration for your created character’s progress through the minors and hopefully to the major league, there are a few twists this year. Your players aren’t stars or high draft picks — they’re guys following the dream and proving that they’ve got what it takes to be a star. Additionally, they have archetypes that they have to fit into based on their playing style and position, like being a speedy base runner that doesn’t have a lot of power. The franchise has been tightened up with more checkpoints, so players are more aware of milestones to pay attention to, like Draft Day and trade deadlines. Diamond Dynasty’s programs from last year have been further expanded as well, with the option to eventually unlock legends like Frank Thomas, Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, and more. Rounding out some of the enhancements are new batting, fielding, and base running animations, new audio commentary, improved visuals, and even weather effects, like rain delays that can completely change the fortunes of a game. Are you ready to step up to the plate and take your place in “The Show”?
IS IT ANY GOOD?
While this franchise is still the reigning champion of baseball games, some of the new changes need more time in the minor leagues. “MLB The Show 18” revamped virtually everything from the batting stances for your players to almost 900 new throwing, catching, and tagging animations to make the game look more realistic. Another notable addition is the addition of stat shattering legends that you have to work to unlock, like Babe Ruth or Nolan Ryan.
The downside is flaws in the Road to the Show mode, which shows glimpses of excellence but feels stuck in its own concept of greatness. For example, this year, the newly created characters are forced into a game archetype to reflect the kind of athletic role they might perform on a squad. As a result, speedy base runners aren’t going to be power hitters. While this was meant to provide progress through your career based on your in-game performance or off-field training regiment, this system is flawed. First, progress seems arbitrary, and doesn’t always seem to reflect how you play. Secondly, the training boosts in the off-field activities are pre-selected, so you don’t always have a choice about what you can or can’t enhance. Finally, this year’s version rarely provides stat boosting items in baseball packs, and barely gives a lot of in-game currency during play. As a result, you feel like both you and your created character are grinding away in obscurity, hoping (like many minor league players) that you’re eventually recognized for your work. But if you can look past some of these rough edges, “MLB The Show 18” shines as a fun, engrossing, and visually amazing take on our National pastime.
RATING AND CONTENT
Recommended for ages 8 and older
Quality: 4 out of 5
Positive messages: 3 out of 5
Positive role models: 3 out of 5
Ease of play: 3 out of 5
Violence and scariness: 0 out of 5
Language: 0 out of 5
Consumerism: 3 out of 5
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Developer: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Release date: March 27, 2018