All this week we're taking a look at Sony's upcoming baseball game, MLB 10: The Show. Check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. Today, we're finishing up the series with a look at some odds and ends I noticed after playing the game and speaking with the game's developers.
- I'm a Generic Pitch 38 kind of guy. I spent most of my time with last year's MLB 09 using my created Road to the Show pitcher, so I've learned the tricks to keep things moving. After all, even when you're playing as a starting pitcher and getting on the mound once every four or five days, the baseball season is a long slog. You take your shortcuts where you can get them, and in the case of a pitcher, that means shortening your windup as much as possible. Forget the seemingly eternal delivery of a guy like Chan Ho Park--when time is at a premium, I'm looking for the fastest delivery possible.
Having spent some hands-on time with MLB 10 earlier this week, one of my first goals was to find a pitch delivery that fit my schedule. That's not necessarily a simple task--MLB 10 has a full 310 deliveries to choose from, including pitching motions modeled after real-life pitchers and a bunch of generic models as well. It took me a while, but after some experimentation, I came to love the quick and to-the-point release of Generic Pitch 38. Now, here's hoping they don't mix the numbers up in the final version of the game, or else it's back to the drawing board…
- At the top of my list of questions for MLB 10 producers was when RTTS fans would be able to carry over their created ball players from one version of the game to the next year's game. As an ardent fan of career modes in sports games, I think that continuing your career from one game to the next seems like the next big step forward for the genre, one that would add a huge amount of stickiness and value from one game to the next. After all, continuing the career of your created star while still taking advantage of all the cool stuff that's added in each new version of a sports game seems like the best of both worlds. The developers agree, but there continue to be enough technical hurdles to cross that the feature was not included in this year's game. That said, it is on their radar for MLB 11, so I'm hoping it gets done next year. If you're reading this, guys: pretty, pretty please?
- One aspect of online play that I didn't mention in Wednesday's preview is the Scout Now feature--an extension of the game's online scout service that lets you filter through a bunch of different criteria like player skill and game speed when looking for a game to play online. With Scout Now you save those filter settings and then can instantly find a game with your preferences (assuming one is out there, of course). I tend to avoid MLB online as I swing at everything that's even remotely near the strike zone. With Scout Now, maybe I can find someone online who is as swing-happy as I am and actually have a shot at winning a game.
- Accurate ball deflections seems to me like perhaps the most underrated addition to MLB 10's gameplay. With the ball bouncing off of batters, umpires, fielders, and even pitchers (and, yes, injuries can happen on comebackers), it seems that a player's reaction time and fielding ability will count more than ever. In fact, now that the ball is acting more realistically, the burden on fielding animation was that much heavier. One of my favorite examples came while watching as a shortstop fielded a shallow fly ball that bounced on the ground just in front of him. As the ball leaped in the air, the shortstop had to make a similar quick hop to snag it and make the play at first. It was a tidy little animation that probably wasn't needed last year but made an impression this time around.
- Speaking of realistic ball physics, here's a feature that Jose Canseco won't appreciate. With the addition of new home-run-robbing wall catches, there are more defensive options for snagging a ball before it leaves the yard, including forehand, backhand, and straight-at-the-wall catches. That's good news for skilled outfielders. For the rest of us, couple delicate timing, necessary fielding ratings, and the improved ball physics, and it's entirely possible to re-create Canseco's famous "ball off the noggin'" outfield gaffe from 1993, when Jose was playing outfield for the Texas Rangers and a ball hit by the Indians' Carlos Martinez bounded off Canseco's head and into the stands for a home run. If it happens to you, I expect to see the video.
That wraps up our look at MLB 10: The Show, but we'll be bringing you more coverage in the coming weeks ahead of its release on March 2.