At an event this week in New York City, we were able to take the newest iteration of Sony’s baseball franchise, The Show, around the block and we certainly liked what we saw. Outside of outstanding graphics and what seems to be an excellent presentation, what impressed us most about MLB 11: The Show is the Home Run Derby and its Move compatibility.
Okay, it’s difficult to suggest that you should buy a baseball game because the Home Run Derby is great, but we’re not suggesting that you buy the title at this point, we’re just saying that swinging the Move controller and knocking balls out of the park in the Derby is a great experience. While Nintendo has had motion-sensing controllers with the Wii for several years, having motion-sensing on an HD system is a different thing entirely. And, while some may prefer the Kinect because it doesn’t need a controller, if you’re swinging a baseball bat in a game, you really do want to be holding on to something in real life that you can at least pretend is a bat.
Both in the actual game—which we’ll get to in a minute—and in Home Run Derby, timing is utterly essential in MLB 11: The Show. Before we got our chance to step to the plate, we watched person after person end up way behind the ball, slicing things off into right field and ending up with an embarrassingly low home run total. We’re happy to report that we schooled those who came before and those who came after us in the Home Run Derby, and it was all about timing – you have to swing far earlier in this game than we’ve seen in other baseball title, but once you get the hang of it you end up with some really pretty shots (seriously, the game looks beautiful and the camera angles for the home runs are great).
MLB 11: The Show also sports analog controls as an option for actual games, and you’ll end up utilizing the right analog stick to both pitch and swing. Happily there are apparently several difficulty levels available for those controls, because it could take you an awfully long time to get the hang of hitting. Pitching is far easier to control because there’s always the potential for your opponent to swing at a bad pitch or swing badly at a good one, with hitting it’s all on you. By the end of the third inning we had the hang of it and were able to, semi-regularly, get a few decent swings, but expect it to take a while to work out the timing and exact controls. Button control is also available, but we found using the analog stick a lot more engaging.
Once we get our hands on a final copy of the game we’ll be sure to let you know exactly how the new version of The Show plays out, but as of this moment, it’s looking pretty good.