A major league scout would probably liken the debut edition of Sony’s first-party hardball franchise to Randy Johnson: he sure is ugly, but man can he pitch.
To break the bad news first, the inaugural PS3 version of MLB does not flex the console’s muscles. Disappointingly, it looks like a high-resolution version of the current-gen game, complete with woeful texture quality and poor player model detail that gives MLB 07: The Show a cartoony look, thus diminishing the impact of its smooth animations and slick framerate. A small number of uniform and stadium inaccuracies are also apparent, albeit only to the hardcore baseball-trained eye.
Above: Don't expect the PS3 version to look much better than the PS2 one shown here
It is those passionate fans that will get the most enjoyment out of The Show, however, as MLB 07 fires a strike where it matters most: at the gameplay. While the returning hitting system performs admirably (including the realistic touch of allowing players to try and guess the pitch type and location), it’s the pitching mechanic that will have our national pastime’s most dedicated legions hooked. You’ll not only need to learn how each hurler’s pitches break, but also be very smart about pitch selection and pitch execution as well. Fall too in love with a pitch and, like in the real Show, hitters will start knocking you around. Buttressing this system is a “pitcher’s confidence” mechanic that boosts a pitch’s effectiveness (i.e. the player’s “trust” in it) as you throw strikes and get outs with it. Neglect too much of your repertoire, however, and you’ll devolve into a predictable, one-pitch chucker.
Any baseball title’s third major system – fielding – is excellent in The Show, and the game also earns points for a solid complement of game modes, including Road to the Show and Rivalry. Current rosters are a benefit of the late release; while commentary is outstanding overall, save for Rex Hudler’s awkward chime-ins.
Creatively, it might not be fair to compare MLB 07: The Show and MLB 2K7, as the latter is enjoying its second season in the next-gen big leagues, but all’s fair when your sixty bucks are at stake. And though 2K7 keeps the casual fans happy with eye-popping visuals, The Show keeps the die-hards in their seats with just the opposite.