MLB 11: The Show Hands-On

New analog controls and a Home Run Derby mode where you let 'er rip on the Move controller are the new features we spent some quality time with at CES 2011.

The Consumer Electronics Show might be filled with more advanced computing technology than the average sports fan knows what to do with, but there is solace on the show floor if you know where to look. Sony has a demo of MLB 11: The Show tucked into the PlayStation corner of its booth, which is where we strolled on over to this morning in an effort to see what's new with the publisher's next baseball sim. We managed to hog the controller for a hefty length of time and got to try out two big new features: the new analog stick controls for hitting and pitching, and the Move controls offered in Home Run Derby mode.

We really enjoyed the new analog controls for hitting and pitching for the way they make you feel more invested in the movements of your players without substantially increasing the difficulty. Hitting and pitching work similarly. When you're at the plate, you pull down on the right stick and then push it up to complete your swing. The trick is twofold: you need to make sure your timing is in sync with the pitcher and also that your upward push on the stick is angled just enough to the right or left that you catch the correct break of the pitch. We hacked our way into a few quick outs before getting the hang of it, but once we settled into the right groove--it's critical to start pulling back when the pitcher's arm is at its highest point during the throw--we had a lot more luck. It's all about getting into a good groove with timing, much like real hitting--which is precisely why our swing got completely thrown off the first time we got someone on base and then had to deal with a pitcher throwing out of the stretch.

Pitching works much the same way. You pick your pitch and aim where you want it to wind up, and then a little gauge appears onscreen that's shaped sort of like an ice-cream cone. You pull the stick down until the meter gets to a little yellow line toward the bottom, and then you push the stick back up. The trick, like with hitting, lies in what angle you push the stick back up at. If you originally spotted your pitch on the right edge of the strike zone, you'll need to push the right stick back up at a slight rightward angle. Mess up, and you run the risk of leaving a meatball right in the middle of the plate. Like with hitting, there's a learning curve involved, but you wind up feeling much more invested in the on-field actions without having to feel like you're suffering through advanced field training drills. You'll also be using the analog stick for fielding controls, but here you're just pushing the stick toward the correct base. This ends up feeling identical to pressing one of the four face buttons, but the change is ultimately harmless. And with all this being said, you can still disable the new analog controls and go back to the more button-oriented controls found in previous versions of MLB.

Finally, we also had a chance to check out the Move support for Home Run Derby. This works more or less exactly how you would expect: you hold the Move controller, and you swing as you would a baseball bat. It works great in its simplicity, and the controller is accurate enough to make you feel like you're really the one responsible for a successful dinger or a disheartening foul. But it's between pitches that you can really see how accurately the Move controller registers your motions. On the screen is a semitransparent bat meant to show you how you're currently holding the controller. You can take a few of those classic baseball warm-up swings where it looks like you're pointing at something on the ground with your bat, or you can rest the controller above your shoulder and shake it violently for that trademark Gary Sheffield batting stance. But overall, it seems like a nice little addition. The only bug we encountered was the need to recalibrate the controller when jumping between a right- and left-handed batter, but with two months to go until the game's release, we have no reason to believe that won't be fixed.

MLB 11: The Show is looking like a great game. We really like the brief time we spent with both new features, and we're looking to see what else is going on in the next version of this baseball sim. In the meantime, you can expect to see it released on March 8.

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40 comments
faboskay
faboskay

That co-op is BS. you can only do it in exhibition games. retarted!!!!!!!!!!!!! No reason at all why they didnt incorporate this into the franchise and season modes.

AtlBraveFalcon
AtlBraveFalcon

Scootman78, you should do what I do then. Make all Golden and Silver age players available in regular season before starting a franchise. Then do a fantasy draft. Every single game during the season you will faced lineups stacked with say a Babe Ruth, Joe Mauer, Jackie Robinson, Robin Yount, Alex Rodriguez...and a pitching staff with Roy Halladay, Walter Johnson, and Cliff Lee in a 3 game series. Its THE ONLY way I have played MLB The Show the last 3 years. Its makes the game harder than any other way I have played it. You will have great players of course, but almost every other player will too. Hint: I always draft Lou Gehrig or Babe Ruth first.

shockertoyou
shockertoyou

if you played last years game you could disable it. either way its way better the 2k

ROLLTIDE06
ROLLTIDE06

@Loon3rBoon3r Did you even read the article? "And with all this being said, you can still disable the new analog controls and go back to the more button-oriented controls found in previous versions of MLB. "

Loon3rBoon3r
Loon3rBoon3r

there better b an option to not use the analog to swing or pitch it would ruin gm

justinjohns0n
justinjohns0n

Seems that this will be the next best baseball game ive ever played right after MLB 2010: The Show! Eager to play....! A must buy for any baseball fan!

Scootman78
Scootman78

I loved playing the MLB: The Show games (I have 09 and 10), but I really wish it was easier to edit the rosters and player ratings than having to just update them one player at a time. Allowing us to be able to update an entire team's roster (or even just all players in a position on a team) at one time would be great. It's just very slow updating one player's stats. I wish I could just export the roster to a USB stick and modify the rosters on the PC and then import the changes back to the Roster save on the PS3. And if you're wondering why I would need to update so many players at one time - well it gets boring playing realistic baseball after a while within the game. I would like the ability to make every other player terrible except my created player and just see how the game works out (Alex Rodriguez was so awful with his changed ratings that he retired after two years due to inability - it was great!).

JMcN76
JMcN76

I wish they would show gameplay footage/pictures. I am sick of game companies showing pictures of the game that isn't playable footage. Who cares what a replay can look like? I want to see what the game looks like.

cybersax
cybersax

I hope they spent some time on the bugs. I hate: getting yelled at/points deducted for not swinging at a pitchout, anyone beating out bunts, being stuck on a team that can't pitch as a hitter, really bad commentary (e.g. getting scolded for checking swings on 2-0 counts. If it's in the zone and goes out, I check a freakin' swing!), blue areas on the sides of the field for special events, etc.

bguy9
bguy9

Yay! Lookin' good, so excited to get it.

sambob530
sambob530

I live in the UK, but I have a US PSN account just so I can download MLB demos. This game is so good, I wish all sports games were like this. Got MLB07 in a second hand shop and was surprised by it's quality. Please bring them out here, we get American NFL and NBA games, why can't we have The Show instead of 2K's OK offerings (which only come out here on the Xbox and Wii)

Lostboy1224
Lostboy1224

If I could use the move to bat in the dynasty mode I would be pretty excited. If its just for the home run derby portion then that is kind of a let down.

BENZINO4677
BENZINO4677

Love this series but I hate analog hitting & pitching. I must be old school because I like pushing buttons. Honestly I never got into the whole analog craze. The thing is if the developers want to implement analog controls fine I'm cool with it just don't forget to offer other options to some of us old timers.

DirtyAl
DirtyAl

I just hope they allow you to throw the ball around after the play is done like the days of old... Maybe add a pickup game mode where you play in a park or something...

BigBoi17
BigBoi17

"Sorta funny how these same reviewers after talking so much trash about 2K baseball seem to think its a great new innovation when The Show basically steals 2K sports' analog control scheme from last year. I guess they are finally realizing actual gameplay means more than eyecandy." How can you be jealous of the better Baseball experience? Multiplatform sports games can't compete with exclusive games period....2K hasn't made a good baseball game since the Dreamcast....Maybe their knowledge of baseball isn't as strong as their Basketball knowledge.

oflow
oflow

Sorta funny how these same reviewers after talking so much trash about 2K baseball seem to think its a great new innovation when The Show basically steals 2K sports' analog control scheme from last year. I guess they are finally realizing actual gameplay means more than eyecandy.

arikkot
arikkot

@ohjtbehaaave - Last year was the year of the gimmicks. That's why I did not surrender any part of my tight gaming budget to upgrade from 09 The Show to the 2010 version. But analog controls is something I've been waiting for since 2K did it first. I think that's already enough of a gameplay improvement to warrant buying it.

mwmars
mwmars

I love this game, but I'd also like to see an NCAA game again where you can make your own teams and stadiums, do recruiting and all that.. That was really cool.

crazimax
crazimax

if this is a sport..then why don't they call poker a sport too..bunch of guys standing around not doing **** (don't bother replying)

mysteriojoe
mysteriojoe

Man, I hope they completely overhaul the online. There was too much lag in '10 and it was impossible to finish a 9 inning game. There was a lot of glitches and freezing issues in '10. I hope these problems are fixed in '11 or I'll pass.

hrothgar99
hrothgar99

this move controller just seems as a distraction from the all the problems with the game itself and i fear that they will get overlooked just so people can play this game with the controller......... and what i don't get is the guys who are excited about playing with the controller .....just go outside and play its wayyy better :P

thebeav3
thebeav3

The Show 10 was awesome. My only problem was with ground balls hitting a baserunner. Now this only happen about 5-10 times since its release, but I feel it would be a rather simple fix to call the runner out. According to the rules he is, so they should have the game work that way.

juan5547
juan5547

They need to fix their online mode. I cant believe the game is sooooooo laggy on even the PS3. How can a baseball game be laggy but I can play something faster like Super Street Fighter 4 with no issue?

juan5547
juan5547

Dont they already have analog hitting and pitching in the MBL 2k series? Isnt that series a pile of crap? Thankfully we still have the option of playing with the "if it aint broke, dont f*ck with it" button system.

foofightersrule
foofightersrule

@josmith16 This game is made by Sony not EA, and they are implementing the technology as they can while still meeting their release date. They are very good about updating this game, and it is very possible that it will be implemented for the rest of the game later. Also, this game is adding and revamping so many features and it is the first sports game that I have seen that improves EVERY year. If you don't wanna buy it, that's your decision but if you like baseball, the only person you're hurting by not buying this game is yourself

josmith16
josmith16

What a joke. Move support for just the homerun derby. Not even considering buying this game any more. Hey, EA, how about moving up to the new technology fully. Not a half-ass efforted.

oajlu
oajlu

it's not worth to pay $60. online is going to be terrible laggy anyway, and wait for 10 months when it drops $20, then it's good to play it offline for that price.

Kitty8472
Kitty8472

LOL... Whoa, analog hitting and pitching! What an innovative idea! This was never done by EA in their NCAA MVP Baseball games! Oh wait. Yes it was. Four years ago. Way to go, Sony. /slowclap

MrOrmond
MrOrmond

Analog Pitching and Hitting... The Death of the Baseball Sim.

theKSMM
theKSMM

I too was looking forward to having Wii Sports baseball style controls in a more realistic baseball sim like The Show. In fact I daresay it was the one traditional game in which I was looking forward to the addition of Move support. Having it limited to the Home Run Derby will be a bit of a letdown.

SloppyCory07
SloppyCory07

franchise mode was playable but online blew hard, if they don't fix online I wont get it

ohjtbehaaave
ohjtbehaaave

I'm torn. I love 'The Show'... but I'm getting a feeling this might be the year of the "Gimmicks" being put into the game while gameplay improvements and game mode fixes get totally ignored. Hopefully they had the time to do ALL the improvements necessary as well as these new control additions. The Analog control better be done better than 2K does them!

gogopower
gogopower

hope they fixed franchise mode last years was not even playable just awful...

antoniobandino
antoniobandino

Agreed, very interesting but the analog stick swinging sounds really promising and I nearly crapped my pants when they said 'two months to go until release' ...where the heck has time gone!

emm333
emm333

Just HR Derby? Why no Move support in the regular games?