Last year I took my baby steps in the genre of baseball with MLB ’22. As a newcomer, I enjoyed my time with the game but the same could not be said about the avid fans of the series. Considering its previous releases, MLB 22 underperformed. From the remarkable MLB ’19 to ’22, the series seemed to be lacking any major upgrades for the franchise. Aside from a few visual tweaks and in-game physics, there was hardly anything noteworthy in the newer releases that hit an all-time low for the franchise in terms of fan reception last year.
However, PlayStation’s San Diego Studio has taken up the mantle to redeem itself with MLB The Show ’23 and ironing out the rough issues that held it down last time and most importantly telling the story of baseball itself with the accounts of the Negro Legends who revolutionized this amazing sport for the good.
MLB: The Show 23 was released on March 28, 2023, on the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5. It is the 18th entry in the MLB The Show franchise, published by Sony Interactive Entertainment, MLB Advanced Media, and Cokem International, and developed by San Diego Studio.
When Jazz Meets Baseball
Jazz and Baseball may seem like totally different things but in reality, baseball is Jazz. All thanks to a Minor League Baseball player in 1912 who had a pitch he called the Jazz Curve. Years later, it become a genre of its own in the world of music. Such Jazz moves gave us legends like Buck O’Neil, Jackie Robinson, and Satchel Paige who redefined the game for the better. Considering the Racial disparity at the time, these Negro legends had no place in the Major Leagues.
But everything changed when they formed a league of their own – The Negro Leagues. From their early beginnings in Kansas City to all the way up in Major Leagues, MLB 23’s The Negro Leagues game mode delivers a modernized, yet classic presentation never seen before. This part game-part documentary is by far one of the best game modes that have been introduced to this franchise to this day.
It acts as a fantastic story mode that we never really had all these years, and you get 8 Negro League player cards. When using the captain card and all the others on your roster, get some pretty hefty stat bonuses. Overall, it is a total no-brainer if you miss out on this one. It’s a short, sweet, and fun story campaign that does an amazing job of familiarizing you with the roots of Baseball.
What’s Hot, What’s Not.
Aside from The Negro Leagues storyline, the biggest addition to this year’s MLB is the theme teams. The customization is far more diverse than ever before and you can get stat boosts depending on your build. To make it even more tangible and rewarding you can create theme teams via the new Captain series cards. When locked in, these cards will give stat boosts to specific card types or teams.
Besides that, the Ranked and the Mini Seasons have a very good and fresh new program to get the reward this time. Ranked Co-Op also joins the fray this year, an exciting move for competitive players, and it’ll be accompanied by a full Ranked Co-Op reward track that is earned independently of the Ranked Solo reward track or Ranked Program.
As for the new MLB Legends this year, there are 25 new additions bringing up the total to a staggering 180 players to work with. There’s the Franchise Mode which now includes the new MLB Postseason format, schedule, and more CBA updates. The MLB Draft experience has been revamped to add strategy and depth to managing your organization. And lastly, Diamond Dynasty and Road To The Show mode largely remain unchanged with some minor tweaks in the in-game AI which is significantly more difficult than ever before.
After having some mixed reception regarding collision detection while hitting and inadequate curves while pitching in MLB 22, I am happy to report that most of these have been fixed this year. The in-game AI has been improved significantly. Overall, the feeling of pitching, hitting, and fielding is a significant step up and feels far more responsive. Even the bat sounds have been reworked making home runs even more wholesome.
As for the in-game visuals, it’s not much of an improvement but it does look stunning as usual. The character models of some of the players are slightly more detailed but the overall visual quality remains quite the same. But the presentation of it has been improved, especially in The Negro Leagues mode, which feels like a whole new experience this time around.
During my time of play, there were no stutters, framerate drops, or any other technical issues. Visually and technically the game holds up pretty well on the PlayStation 5 along with no-lacking of haptic feedback and other features that you might expect from any PlayStation Studio title.
PlayStation’s partnership with The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum has breathed a new into MLB this time. The Negro Leagues storyline does an incredible job of familiarizing the players with the black roots of Baseball. It is undoubtedly the best campaign mode in recent years and the best addition to the franchise in a long time. The Franchise mode updates and Theme teams are a welcome addition this time while The Road to the Show and Diamond Dynasty largely remain unchanged. If you were let down by MLB ’22, MLB ’23 has you covered on all fronts.
FINAL RATING: 75/100