MLB The Show 23 Review: Time to brush up on USA baseball history

San Diego Studio is banking on World Classic Baseball and the historic The Negro Leagues for its MLB The Show 23 this year.

MLB The Show 23 Review: Time to brush up on USA baseball history

Still looking at Shohei Ohtani’s lavish performance in the 2023 World Baseball Classic Grand Final, we couldn’t wait to get our hands on the new MLB The Show 23 to replay the match between Japan and the United States and strike out poor Mike Trout (his teammate at the Los Angeles Angels!). The Japanese phenomenon looks like an unstoppable machine and is rewriting the history of professional baseball.

Pitcher, designated hitter (finally playing both roles on MLB The Show), outfielder, and even coverboy,”shottime” last year was the perfect testimonial for the San Diego Studio simulation (by the way, here’s the review of MLB The Show 22), the first episode of the series to land on Nintendo consoles (Switch), the second on those of Microsoft (Xbox Series X/S and One). This year Ohtani’s testimonial was picked up by Jazz Chisholm Jr. of the Miami Marlins and legendary New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter for the Deluxe Edition.

The impact of the new rules

The 2023 season opens with the Astros, Yankees, Mets, Padres and Braves enjoying the underdogs and the Mariners, Blue Jays, Phillies, Cardinals, White Sox and Rays in the role of outsiders.

To speed up matches and limit downtime Major League Baseball has introduced a number of new rules: from the “pitch clock” (no more than 15 seconds must pass between one pitch and another with empty bases, 20 seconds with runners) up to the elimination of the defensive shift (an additional infielder can no longer be fielded), passing for the enlargement of the bases to entice the stolen goods. In short, the North American professional league aims to increase the show by limiting the impact of the defenses.

MLB The Show 23 presents itself at the videogame opening season with a couple of interesting novelties: the aforementioned World Baseball Classic, the tournament reserved for national teams that saw Italy led by Mike Piazza reach the quarterfinals against Shohei Ohtani’s Japan and didactics”The Negro Leagues“, an interactive game mode that alternates educational videos with moments of the game to rediscover baseball fans the sports leagues of the early twentieth century in which the teams were formed exclusively or largely by African-American players.

Flashbacks from the World Baseball Classic

The mode “WBC” allows you to relive the continental event that ended with the third victory of the Japanese out of the five editions held so far. Hidden inside the “Other Programs” menu, this mode puts around twenty national teams and more than a hundred players from non-MLB leagues How does it work?

The most interesting moments and matches of the tournament are replayed through a series of flashbacks (only three innings, such a shame!). All international players of the WBC (including outfits and equipment) can also be used in the “Diamond Dynasty”, the Ultimate Team of the situation. San Diego StudioĆ¹ has shuffled – literally – the cards to make the gaming experience a little less monotonous. Cards with the highest overalls were thrown into the fray from the very beginning, Captains added, Team Affinity and mini-seasons freshened up (3 modes available), plus ranked co-op play with friends up to 5 players. Another important change concerns the progression: the cap of 25,000 XP points has been removed. As for the legends chapter, SDS has added 25 new ones including the aforementioned Derek Jeter and the sluggers Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, absolute protagonists of the hot summer of 1998, where with home run hits they managed to surpass the historic home run record set by Roger Maris.

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Improved scouting

The essential mode “Franchise” allows you to relive the ups and downs of a championship made up of 162 games (you can only play clips to speed everything up): last year SDS had added the possibility of playing more seasons, rearranged the free-agency and added the Minor League .

This year the development team has focused on the scouting system to make the recruiting process even more realistic: all with a touch of unpredictability guaranteed by the “fog of war” function. Let’s put it this way: now it’s possible to catch the new Derek Jeter or the heir to the disastrous Mel Hall (ask former Indians fans for references). The work done on the Minor Leagues was excellent, which made it possible to have even more accurate players and statistics. The Franchise mode also brings back the new MLB postseason format, with the playoffs expanded to 12 teams and all the innovations foreseen by the new collective agreement of the players. The CPU, although it has made some steps forward, gets screwed as always and has some problems in releasing players. The new scouting system has also been implemented in the “March to October” mode which is a super-fast version of the Franchise and gives an edge to the draft. The “Road to the Show” career mode returns more or less in the same conditions as last season: Aside from the new UI and appearances by the MLB Network trio of commentators, the design changes are pretty minimal. The new “Face Scan” function works surprisingly well, which allows the player (via the app) to take a selfie and use it in this game mode and also in Diamond Dynasty.

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The history of baseball

“The Negro Leagues” is undoubtedly the big news of the season. A historical reenactment, a dutiful tribute to a series of little-considered baseball legends, a way of appreciating a sport that in the United States is a real social and cultural phenomenon. A production made in collaboration with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum led by Bob Kendrick (is the president) who is present in the game as a narrator.

The season one roster stars Leroy “Satchel” Paige, Jackie Robinson, Andrew “Rube” Foster, Hilton Smith, Hank Thompson, John Donaldson, Martin Dihigo and John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil: you can relive some of the key moments of the their careers (stock footage and photography are great). The structure is that of a Netflix documentary with about seventy episodes to play. Complete all the stories you get cards with an overall of 90 (that of Buck O’Neill instead of 95) to be used in the Diamond Dynasty. The only drawback of the mode is the inability to play complete games of 9 innings.

There are no new rules

As for the gameplay, SDS made some really minor changes to MLB The Show 23. The team worked above all on the ball/club contact, also reprogramming the management/interaction of the shot.

The ball is directed better and when the timing is right it is easy to hit a home run (a special sound is heard). The trajectories of the so-called baseline balls and those of pops in flight are much more realistic. This modification, together with the addition of a bar on the pitcher’s mound to make life more difficult for pitchers, causes a significant increase in singles and at the same time a decrease in home runs. To increase base steals SDS has changed the controls but the impact seems to be minimal. We’ve noticed that CPU launchers tend to tire pretty quickly (a patch is needed to reset their energy), while the outfielders miss a little more than in MLB The Show 22, even as they continue to catch balls that would be impossible to catch in real life. Surprisingly, the new rules introduced by MLB this year have not been implemented: a sort of “pitch clock” exists only for online games. Very strange, then, the choice not to make the saves/contents of the users available for MLB The Show 22 compatible.

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Graphic engine to change

While the SDS production boasts 5,000 new field animations, MLB The Show 23 does not seem to have entered the next-gen yet (the series is currently available on five platforms). The polygonal models of the players (new face scans are urgently needed) still belong to the PlayStation 4/Xbox One era and appear dated in 2023. The new animations make dives, steals and catches more realistic but textures and polygons are still those of a generation ago .

The atmosphere remains wonderful even if there is still no trace of ray tracing, while the frame rate is confirmed on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. The choice to customize the presentation of the matches by proposing the main networks that follow in the United States is also appreciable the entire MLB season. Steps forward also for the Sciambi-Singleton duo in the control room: the commentary is less repetitive and monotonous.

MLB The Show 23
MLB The Show 23PlayStation 5 Analyzed VersionWhile confirming itself as the best baseball simulation on the planet, MLB The Show 23 has been experiencing the same problem for several years: the graphics sector. The next-gen seems to be a mirage for SDS which continues to bring back the same dated engine. It may be fine for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch but on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X / S (available on Game Pass) it is reasonable to expect more. While on the gameplay front the lack of implementation of the new MLB rules is perplexing, in terms of content World Baseball Classic and The Negro League are two excellent additions.