MLB 07: The Show: Career Mode Spotlight

We check out the new "road to the show" mode in Sony's upcoming hardball game.

More than perhaps any other professional sport, the road to baseball's highest echelon is one of the longest and most convoluted. Unlike in other sports, where players transfer directly from college and (in some cases) high school, even the hottest baseball prospects can expect to spend a good amount of time grinding in the minor leagues before ever getting a chance to step to the plate in an MLB stadium. The development team behind the upcoming MLB 07: The Show understands the long and winding road to the show, as evidenced by the improved career mode found in this year's game.

Whether you're stepping on the mound or covering the hole at shortstop, road to the show will let you step into the shoes of an up-and-coming big leaguer.

Career mode was first introduced in last year's MLB 06: The Show, and it proved to be one of the game's most compelling features. Instead of taking control of a team and being responsible for its financial and on-the-field success, career mode put you in the shows of an up-and-coming hardball hero trying to make it in the big leagues. With MLB 07, the career mode has been split into two modes: the traditional career mode from last year's game and a new style of play called "road to the show." The main difference between the two modes is how you will play the games. In the traditional career mode, you played the games as you would a regular exhibition or season-mode game, playing all the innings, taking all the at-bats, throwing all the pitches, and so on. In road to the show mode, the player you create is your sole focus, and how you play the game depends on what kind of player you create. We tried a couple of different players to see how the mode differs from position to position.

Our first task was a first baseman. Character creation in MLB 07 is very similar to last year's system: you pick a name, look, and accessories for your player, then assign a pool of attribute points to such attributes as right- and left-handed contact, fielding ability, and speed. After creating your character, you're off to the races. Like all burgeoning baseball pros, you start off road to the show mode in spring training, which is where you'll be expected to produce against other players during the month of March to prove to managers you're worth a shot. From there, you pick a team you want to try out with--a handy graphic shows you where teams are deep, balanced, and thin at every position on the field. Your best bet at getting a contract is to find a team that's thin at the position you created and try out there. It may not be your favorite team, but you can always demand a trade later.

Once we found a team to play on (the St. Louis Cardinals), we hit spring training running. You can track your career progression via the career home menu option on the main page; here you'll find information on any contracts you have waiting, interactions between you and your teammates or manager, training points you can spend (more on that in a bit), and your locker room, which is where you can find notes from your manager regarding your performance.

Choose a team that's thin at your position for the best chance of making it onto the roster.

One of the things the MLB series has gotten right for a few years now is the ability to quickly get to the games that matter on your schedule. One key tool here is the ability to fast-forward to your next appearance in a game. Of course, for everyday players, such as our first baseman, that's less of a concern. But when you create a starting pitcher, it's nice to be able to skip directly to the games in which you are taking the mound. Road to the show mode is all about your player, and tools like this help emphasize this.

In keeping with that philosophy, the actual games in road to the show mode also play out differently than you might expect. MLB 06 veterans will remember the feature that allowed you to skip to your next at-bat while in the game. In road to the show games, every play that you take part in features you in one role or another. Naturally, you'll play every at-bat, but you'll also be taken to every fielding situation that involves you. It's important to note that, as a first baseman, you don't play every routine throw to first that comes your way. Instead, defensive plays usually find you fielding a ground ball and running down the batter at first or tossing the ball to second to set up a double play while the pitcher covers first. In road to the show mode, you play defense from the point of view of your created player and cover all your player's responsibilities accordingly.

One of the upsides to this automatic fast-forward system is that it quickly speeds you through games. You're only involved in a few defensive plays per game (depending on your position) and, with your at-bats included, a game usually only takes a few minutes to complete. Even if your character is an everyday player, you can get through spring training in a little more than an hour. However, there is a downside of sorts to this quick progression: It takes away a bit of the random nature of fielding. Anytime you're on defense, you naturally know the ball is coming your way and prepare accordingly; unlike in regular baseball games when you are never quite sure when the ball is coming your way. It's not a big deal, but it does take away some of the unexpectedness from the experience.

The more confident your pitcher is, the hotter the heat he'll deal from the mound.

Our second created character was a starting pitcher. As with a traditional fielder, you still allocate points to various attributes, but as a pitcher, you'll want to spend the majority of your points on the various pitches in your arsenal. However, the points go quickly, so it's not unusual to only have one or two pitches of any effectiveness in your arsenal. This matters more than ever, thanks to MLB 07's new pitching confidence meters, which provide you a constantly updated look at how your pitcher feels about each pitch in his arsenal. The higher your player's confidence is in a pitch, the more effective and accurate the pitch.

MLB 07 also has what it refers to as an adaptive pitching intelligence, which is a fancy way for basically saying "the catcher will call the game for you." Before each pitch, a red icon will show up on the screen indicating where the catcher would like the ball and the kind of pitch the catcher would like to see. As the guy on the mound, what and where you throw is entirely up to you, so you can shake off the catcher's suggestions and go your own way if you like. It's also nice that the system really does seem to work to your strengths. If your pitcher is feeling great about his curve and 4-seamer, your catcher is most likely going to be calling those pitches, as opposed to your failing sinker.

There's more to road to the show mode than simply winning games--you'll also be expected to be a team player. One of the ways this is manifested is through constantly updating manager goals throughout the game. Before each at-bat or crucial defensive plays, you'll get a brief note from your manager explaining the situation and what he expects out of you. As a pitcher, it might be to induce a ground ball for a double play or strike out the guy at the plate; as a batter, it may be to work the count so you can get your overworked pitcher some extra rest. If you succeed in these goals, you'll earn attribute points you can spend on training later. While you aren't really penalized for failing a goal, it's in your best interests to succeed as often as possible. Interestingly, pitchers seem to get a lot more chances to succeed or fail than fielders because managers are always looking for that crucial strikeout or double play ball. As a batter, it's up to you to make the most of the more limited opportunities you get.

Pay attention to what your manager says. Your team and your created player will thank you.

Once you've got some training points to spend, you can use them toward improving your player. However, how you train your player is different from last year's game. In MLB 06, you directly spent points to improve very specific aspects of your game; this time around, training is a bit more subtle and roundabout. To improve your batting, you can spend points in the batting cages against either left-handed or right-handed pitchers. You can also work with a batting coach or spend points on bunting drills. As a pitcher, you can focus on very specific aspects of any pitch in your lineup, such as the precision of your change-up or the velocity of your curve. Then there are the general training drills, such as sprints, stretching, and weight training. All of these training areas affect multiple aspects of your game. For example, spending points in stretching will improve your reaction time, fielding, and durability; working with a pitching coach will improve no less than five aspects of your game, including strikeouts and hits per nine innings.

In all, with road to the show mode, the developers behind MLB 07 are giving players a chance to focus more on their created player than ever before. It's just one of the new features found in this year's Sony baseball effort, and we'll be bringing you more information on the game in the coming weeks that lead up to the game's release in late February. If you have specific questions on the game, check out this thread in the MLB 07: The Show forums, where we'll do our best to answer your questions.

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Discussion

29 comments
Jdawgja15
Jdawgja15

I love baseball and there games!

justin_fain
justin_fain

I think next year, they should make it like Madden 06 and have your player play the whole game in your point of view, not just at points of the game. I think that would be pretty cool!

kebony
kebony

MLB 06 the show is probably the greatest baseball games I've played. It stood head and shoulders above the rest of the games last year and frankly a baseball game hasn't done that since Triple play back in the late 90 's. I am very much looking forward to the baseball game competition this year knowing that MLB 07 has made improvements to put in contention for another editor's choice award. It's almost time for spring training and I am exited! Go Braves!

_Sam_
_Sam_

I didn't play last year's, so I should probably play this one

DawgcityClev
DawgcityClev

I see this game will take up my Summer as usual. Hope the graphics blow me away on the PS3... will make it that much better. I also hope the Commentary gets more indepth in tracking my player's progressions.

RaiKageRyu
RaiKageRyu

Hmmm, making the fast-forward optional seems like a good suggestion. If they take it, there will be literally no downsides to this game.

RaiKageRyu
RaiKageRyu

Hmmm, making the fast-forward optional seems like a good suggestion. If they take it, there will be literally no downsides to this game.

phillyred05
phillyred05

is the in game fast forward optional or does it automatically happen during Road to the Show? I'd rather sit through the whole game and not know when the ball is coming to me than play 5 minutes of essentially ground ball practice.

ObiKKa
ObiKKa

I haven't read the preview, but I've read your comments, so I probably don't need to read it. Wow, your genuine excitement has got me excited about this game, as I wanna try out both 2K games' MLB & Sony's MLB: The Show games. Funny how, from looking at the unexciting crop of current games & other games in the next half-year coming out for the PS3, that this baseball game could get me interested to get a PS3 a little bit early on! OK, Lair looks sweet & all, but one previewer ominously felt that the dragon-battling could get repetitive, and that just Motorstorm alone won't be enough to get me to buy a PS3, coz there needs to be more good exclusive games before I do so, ah, & that elusive price drop! OK, as for the multi-platform titles - they're more likely to look better & perform more smoothly on the Xbox 360. Zing!

greenlemon15
greenlemon15

Career was introduced 2 years ago, not last year :)

DanJar
DanJar

sounds intersting... cant wait to give it a crack and see if its any good.. -=DanJar=-

DeltaSpirit
DeltaSpirit

hopefully they'll fixed some of the problems that career mode had in the last game but i'm sold on The Show its the best MLB game bar none

kamicolo
kamicolo

A very detailed and well thought out game. I'm sure it will be a hit for baseball fans. I'll keep my eye out for it

baltimoreravens
baltimoreravens

actually the show is better than MVP series. i personally love the xbox, but i got a PS2 just so i can play The Show. the pace in this game is perfect. the animations in the show are way better than MVP's.

DerekJeter2007
DerekJeter2007

datniccah 187, you obviously haven't played the MVP Baseball series. THAT is the best baseball series ever. If 2K sports didn't buy them out! Now MVP has to make college baseball. : '(

datniccah187
datniccah187

I love the show. It is by far my favorite baseball game ever. I don't know that i can ever by any other series of baseball now.

Paul_TheGreat
Paul_TheGreat

I want some media of the PS3 version already.

Paul_TheGreat
Paul_TheGreat

I want some media of the PS3 version already.

oldschoolplayer
oldschoolplayer

I am pretty much sold on this game for the PS2. Thought about the EA College game but I just dont think I could get into a game playing with college players. This game seems to have everything I want in a baseball game. It looks as though it is a combination of the best options that MVP 05, ASB 04, and 2K baseball had. So if I had to choose one game this year this looks to be the game hands down

Dodgerbob
Dodgerbob

Road to the Show mode sounds like it really modeled life in the minors. Lots of micromanaging of your talent growth along with fun gameplay. I wonder what level of detail will be available for contract management. There was a brief mention of demanding trades. It would be cool to add some negotiating tools with the same granular details available for the gameplay.

GamersNightmare
GamersNightmare

This will be a nice addition to the game as baseball games just take entirely to long to play and do a proper and true career with a created player.

novaonekanoba
novaonekanoba

Last years game really got me excited about baseball games again. MVP has always been a good game, BUT MLB The Show really impressed me with its pitching as well as feilding. Not to mention the ball physics are dead on. I'm really looking forward to this new game, NOW I just gotta see what the PS3 screens look like... ; )

Truth01
Truth01

Last time I picked up a baseball game was in 04 and I hated the micromanaging aspects of being a coach. Picking lineups, changing players, making sure everyone is happy, really got annoying. The Road to the Show mode seems much more suited to my tastes, action. The catcher making the calls is also something that I wanted to happen in my 04 game. This preview has me excited and I've never been able to say that about a baseball game.

weiler4733
weiler4733

i wonder if matsuzaka is in this game?

einsp
einsp

sounds like a very interesting idea, maybe EA should do something like that with its sports titles I.E. madden, incorporate the college aspect as well as the pros and let the player work there way up instead of haveing a college and a pro tittle just do two in one.

FilthyYamBag
FilthyYamBag

ohhh first post, if its anything like last years i'm gonna get it Go red sox