TODO alt text

MLB 09: The Show review

Another rocket in your pocket

Pros

  • Superb gameplay
  • Road to the Show (again)
  • Ambitious online options

Cons

  • Not much new happening
  • No World Baseball Classic
  • Invisible umps (again)

Sony’s portable baseball franchise has been rocking our socks for years now, turning commutes into intense pennant races and fulfilling careers. The development team has squeezed just about everything imaginable out of the formidable PSP hardware, and the result has been a steady stream of hardball awesomeness. This season, The Show bears a striking resemblance to seasons past – and we’re OK with that. After all, breaking up a championship team can lead to disastrous results.

If you’re a PSP owner who hasn’t experienced The Show before, you’re in for a treat. Sporting smooth and vibrant visuals, rock-solid gameplay, and an impressive arsenal of offline and online options, it’s a complete package. Whether you’re down for a 162-game season, pursuing dreams of individual greatness in Road To The Show, or participating in an online league, The Show has you covered. It’s challenging, too – even on the default settings – and demands patience and practice in order to be successful.

As Show veterans know, the pitcher-batter battle is based on successfully guessing pitches. When you’re at the plate, inputting the right location and pitch combination lets you know beforehand what’s coming your way. Even if you’re off, you’re at least aware of what’s not being thrown, which still tilts the advantage in your favor. It’s a good thing, too, since hitting the ball consistently is one of the toughest things we’ve had to do in a long time.

Pitching isn’t easy, either, especially for your poor young rookie in Road To The Show, who’ll get lit up like a Christmas tree in his first spring training. Rest assured, there’ll be plenty of time to hone his craft in the low minors. If you start a RTTS career as more of a grizzled veteran (say, age 24 instead of 18), then chances are he won’t get totally demolished right away, but you’re also costing yourself years of Hall of Fame eligibility. We’ll sacrifice early bumps and bruises for more years of greatness any day.

Most of our complaints from the last couple of seasons remain, especially when it comes to the still-missing umpires and empty dugouts. It’s a little weird to hear balls, strikes, fair, and foul being called by invisible men; even stranger to see a catcher reach up for a new baseball from that a non-existent plate ump. You’d think that the animations would at least be changed now that it appears the decision to never show the men in blue is final; alas, you would be wrong.

MLB 09 The Show remains the definitive handheld baseball experience, a startlingly deep and expansive take on America’s Pastime that offers more hardball than most of us could likely get to in a full season. There aren’t many noticeable improvements this year, though, which may bring pause to those who’ve already got a few seasons under their belts.

Mar 10, 2009

More Info

GenreSports
DescriptionThe formula is the same, as are the superb results. Not much has changed, though, which may give pause to veterans of the series.
PlatformPSP, PS3, PS2
US censor ratingEveryone
Alternative namesMLB 09 The Show
Release date3 March 2009 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)