MLB The Show 22 Review

An absolute grand slam of a sports title that baseball fans will cherish

by Shaun Cichacki

The moment you start up MLB The Show 22, you’re placed into the thoughts of the cover athlete Shohei Ohtani, and immediately brought into the world and excitement of professional baseball. After learning what he did, the struggles he endured, and how he got to where he is today, you’re thrust right into the action, ready to go and ready to learn.

Be it the excitement of pitching a no-hitter, nailing a grand slam, or even making a killer catch in the outfield, MLB The Show 22 oozes flourish. You’ll find yourself drawn in almost immediately, finding it near impossible to put the controller down, and trying to figure out how to make it into the league yourself. However, there are a few things that keep this game from reaching the heights of perfection, but we’ve never been this close before. Let’s discuss our thoughts about MLB The Show 22, and why it’s an essential purchase for those interested in the sport or those who haven’t touched a baseball game in years.

Take Me Out To The Ballgame

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Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: MLB The Show 22 is a gorgeous game. You’ll see little flourishes that bring the game to life, such as characters puffing their cheeks in frustration after a whiffed hit, mouth movements that signal how they’re feeling, and so many other touches that you’ll need to remind yourself that this is a video game. Rendered in high definition, these characters are almost spot on to their real-world counterparts, with only a few looking like they need a little more time on the bench.

You’ll see stellar animations spread throughout your time with MLB The Show 22, from specific pitching types to the way that you’ll be able to take a practice swing before the ball comes sailing down the plate, or how characters will react if you strike them out, everything here looks better than it ever has before. Even the crowd is looking lively, with them diving after foul balls that come zinging towards them, or catching a home run, you’ll feel like you’re there with them.

These little touches help flesh out the game, make it feel more alive than its competition in the sports world, and show that the developer San Diego Studios is more than willing to make every game in the series unique, rather than just a roster swap. Feeling their emotions through the way that they react to a play is breathtaking, and seeing your batter’s eye follow the ball after a huge hit never ceases to amaze. Rather than feeling sterile, you’ll feel the roar of the crowd ring through your ears, the ball flying towards you, and the crack of the bat in your hands.  It’s an electrifying feeling that resounds through the first game, and through every game that follows.

Stadiums are rendered in loving detail, with little things present that help sell the immersion, such as Bernie Brewer going down the slide after a huge hit also brings you into the immersion that you aren’t just controlling a video game, but partaking in the game that could send you to the World Series, or send you packing. It’s great to see these stadiums rendered in such loving care, and sell you on the fact that you’re not just there, but that you’re living in that moment.

There are a few small imperfections in the visuals, however. Rain effects look cheap and take you out of the world a bit, and the occasional technical hiccup in the animations of catchers can throw you off guard, but these are quite few and far between compared to other competitors in the genre, so they are a bit more forgiven here. You won’t find characters clipping through one another, or glitching out on the field, but you may catch someone pull a quick 180 faster than the speed of light. However, these happen very little so you may not even notice them in regular gameplay.

Peanuts and Crackerjacks

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While the sights and sounds of the game are on point, that means nothing if the game doesn’t play well. Thankfully, you’ll feel right at home in the big leagues with the way that this game handles, as it controls, runs and plays with the best of them. You’ll find yourself knocking homers out early in the game, but thanks to the Dynamic Difficulty system, you’ll be humbled quickly if you don’t keep up with it. Starting on Beginner, you’ll find yourself claiming through the ranks, all the way up to Legendary Status, all changing the dynamics of how the game plays. It’s a great feature to have, as you don’t want to continuously win games by just hitting a button, so you’ll need to invoke strategy in the way you’re approaching every game you play.

You’ll also find it’s easy to control the way things are going from the intuitive control system, allowing you to send all of your runners towards the next base, having them retreat if they aren’t going to make it in time, or selecting them one by one to set yourself up for the perfect play. Seeing how characters will react to these major hits is also a blast, as you’ll get great cinematics that follows suit, showing the victory in your team’s eyes, as well as the anger of your opponent for letting such a big play happen.

While the game is very easy to pick up and play, there are also some more advanced moves that you’ll be able to master as you continue playing. Moves like checking your swing, player-locked sliding, and more are all here, letting you take control of your game and play exactly how you want to. If you’re looking to be a daredevil and try to steal a base, you’re going to need to master the slide to make sure you can get there before the pitcher notices that you’re on your way. You’ll need to be able to scale walls and catch huge hits that could save the game, and so much more. It’s a great system to let newbies come into the game and experience what it has to offer, or a way for seasoned veterans of the series to get their feet wet and keep the eye on the ball.

Minors to the Majors

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You’ll also be able to take part in the Road To The Show, allowing you to live out your dreams of becoming a Major League player for your favorite team. Starting in the Minor League, you’ll have to fight your way through the stiff competition to make sure that you’re ready, and thanks to an interesting set of mini-games that you’ll be able to partake in, as well as ways to refine and hone your skills, you won’t be bored through your time in this mode.

Making sure that you’re ready for the Major League is no easy task, so you’ll need to make sure that you’re performing at your best. Starting small, and not too great at the sport, you’ll find yourself granted the ability to partake in one of three different roles, Starting Pitcher, Two-Way Player, or Position Player, allowing you to pick your dream position and carry on from there. You’ll be asked at the beginning of the mode which team you’d like to play for through a small Question and Answer type segment, but you’re not guaranteed to land on that spot, so you’ll need to work your way through the ranks and make sure that you are accomplishing your dream.

While the on-field animations continue to stun, some of the animations in the locker room don’t carry that same love and affection. You’ll see a lot of stilted and jarring animation, which does take you out of the immersion somewhat, but not enough to make this a huge downfall of the mode. You’ll obtain different equipment, through playing the game and opening Packs that will allow you to supercharge your character, and make them into the best of all time.

If you’re looking to take a backseat and help your team push onto victory, you’ll also be able to partake in the Franchise mode, which will give simulation fans a lot to look forward to, as you’ll be in charge of trying to get your favorite team to the world series through a wealth of management options. Finding the best players to get on your team, working with drafts, and so much more await you in this mode, and it helps those that are not as familiar with the sport through its complex management systems to make sure that everyone can enjoy it.

However, what if you’re looking to forgo a lot of these new features, and just want to play some good old-fashioned arcade baseball? Well, that’s where Retro Mode comes into play. Stripping away the complexities of the main game, you’ll feel right at home if the last time you’ve touched a baseball game was on the Sega Genesis. You’ll have just a few buttons, and be treated to the same great animations that take place during the main game, but in a more retro-fueled way. It’s a great addition for those that are not interested in the main sport, and just want to rocket a few baseballs out of the park without thinking of what direction they’ll need to go, just where to put your batter and when to swing the bat.

The Verdict

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MLB The Show 22 is truly a grand slam. From the gorgeous visuals that transport you directly to the field, to the stellar controls, you won’t find another sports game out there that will captivate you quite like this one. Feeling the roar of the crowd swelling up as you continue to rack up points, to the way that your players will express their emotions on the field, this is a sports title that other developers of the genre should take notes from. You’ll find the occasional blemish in this title, such as some wonky animations in the locker rooms, but aside from those minor imperfections, you’re looking at a great time for anyone. Even if you aren’t interested in the sport of baseball, there is plenty here to catch your interest. You’ll find reasons to take yourself to the ballgame and spend way too much time enjoying every second of it.

This game was reviewed using a copy of the game provided by the game's publisher,public relations company, developer or other for the express purpose of a review.

"loved"
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  • Score: 4.5 / 5
  • Available On: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch
  • Published By: Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • Developed By: San Diego Studio
  • Genre: Sports
  • US Release Date: April 5, 2022
  • Reviewed On: PS5
  • Quote: "From the gorgeous visuals that transport you directly to the field, to the stellar controls, you won't find another sports game out there that will captivate you quite like this one. Feeling the roar of the crowd swelling up as you continue to rack up points, to the way that your players will express their emotions on the field, this is a sports title that other developers of the genre should take notes from."
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