MLB The Show 22 Review: Another Year, Another MLB The Show
It’s still weird seeing a Sony-published game on Xbox, even a year after MLB The Show went multi-console. This year’s edition, MLB The Show 22, has some cool updates, like making it easier to become a two way player like the game’s cover athlete Shohei Ohtani, but outside of that, it’s just a solid update, with many of the same strengths and issues last year’s game had.
Two Modes To Rule Them All
While MLB The Show 22 features a wide variety of modes, most players are going to spend most of their time in either Diamond Dynasty or Road to the Show. Diamond Dynasty is the equivalent here of My Team in NBA 2K or Ultimate Team in FIFA. You’ll complete a wide variety of challenges to earn points which you can use to earn packs of cards that contain players, arenas, uniforms, and all the things you’ll need to build the ultimate team.
Like with most modes like this, there’s an addicting quality to Diamond Dynasty as you look to find your favorite players and customize everything. The trading card qualify has the same appeal that popping packs of real-life cards has, as you try to get just the ones you want. It helps that the actual baseball behind the game is very strong, which we’ll get into more below. Like this mode in all of these sports games, though, the balance has been tweaked to provide very slow progress to anyone who doesn’t want to pour huge amounts of real money into things. This continues to feel a bit distasteful in a full-price release. I’d find it a bit more palatable in a free-to-play game, but in a game that is at its most fun when competing with others, the fun, addicting quality that makes you want to keep playing can quickly become a bank-draining, addicting quality.
You’re Going To The Show
Road to the Show is a bit better balanced, with progress feeling possible without needing to spend a lot of money. On this road, you’ll create your own custom player and take them up from the minor leagues, trying to make it to the majors. A lot of smart changes have been made this year, though not all of them are home runs. It’s now a lot easier to create your player, with the game just prompting you to do so when you start the mode. One of the biggest changes is that it’s much easier than ever to create a two-way player, someone who can both pitch and be an everyday batter. This is a cool nod to this year’s cover athlete, but it does make his once-in-a-generation skills feel a bit less special. Still, in a game that’s all about living a fantasy, it’s not a bad thing.
The actual baseball feels good still in this mode as well, and the pace that’s achieved by focusing on one player and the role they play in a sport that is split up a great deal is great when you don’t have all day to play. There are unique issues in this mode, though, which aren’t issues outside of it. Because you’re playing as an individual, many of the controls around things like base running and fielding are different from other modes. They don’t work nearly as well either. I regularly get stuck between bases and find myself feeling unable to throw where I need to, something that simply isn’t an issue in other modes. It would be nice if the development team gave cleaning this up a bit more effort next year.
Something For Everyone
Still, even if you aren’t a fan of these modes, there’s a lot of baseball to play here. Everything from traditional franchise mode, once the backbone of sports games which feels more and more relegated by the year, to a retro-inspired mode which feels like a throwback baseball game and is quite fun, if a bit too simple to spend any real time on. The biggest issue so many of MLB The Show 22’s modes have is just that they feel like they haven’t gotten much love. This year’s most exciting tweak to franchise mode is slightly improved trade logic from the computer, which still isn’t very good. These modes are fun, and mostly work well, in the same way they have for years. They’re so similar to what fans are used to, though, if they’re your preferred way to play. Unfortunately, this year’s game feels like little more than a roster update.
When you’re playing baseball as your full team, though, everything still feels as good as ever. The slightly tweaked batting and hitting both offer a ton of control and enough sliders and options that most any player should be able to find something they’re comfortable with. Playing an actual game of baseball in MLB The Show 22 continues to feel excellent. However, there was a time when this series felt like it was making bold choices year after year. That mostly feels over. This year’s version instead feels filled with minor tweaks. Great if you get it cheap, or just play it via Game Pass. Less great if you are paying full price for it. Last year Xbox fans at least had the incentive that it was new to their system, and Switch fans get that this year. That only works as an incentive once, though. At some point, San Diego Studio needs to make this series feel like it’s actually evolving instead of just treading water.
MLB The Show 22 continues to offer a solid baseball game that is a lot of fun to play. San Diego Studio has the basics down, and while they iterate on them each year, they don’t break what’s working. When so much around the core gameplay has grown stagnant, though, and players are being pushed to spend so much ongoing money to have the best experience, it becomes a lot harder to recommend to all but the die-hards.
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: Xbox Series X(Reviewed), Xbox Series S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, Switch; Publisher: MLB; Developer: San Diego Studio; Players: 1-8; Released: April 5th, 2022; ESRB: E for Everyone; MSRP: $69.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a retail copy of MLB The Show 22.