One Week of MLB 10: The Show -- Online Play

Our weeklong look at Sony's upcoming baseball entry continues with a look at the game's online features.

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All this week we're taking a look at Sony's upcoming baseball game, MLB 10: The Show. Check out Part 1. Today we're taking a look at the game's online features.

Despite the sport's relatively sluggish pace, timing is more important in baseball than arguably any other sport. That goes double for video game baseball, where network lag or frame rate issues can severely spoil the pitcher/batter duel that is so integral to the sport. The team is looking to address these lag issues with tech that would better respond to bad network connections and a variable frame rate system that would keep the speed of the game consistent where lag would normally rear its ugly head. I didn't get to play the game online and can't comment on how successful those solutions will be at improving the online performance. One goal that the team has clearly met, however, is in improving the presentation of MLB 10's online suite of features.

The player rating of the past is gone for online play in MLB 10; it's been replaced by an automatically generated sportsmanship rating that will reflect how you play online.
The player rating of the past is gone for online play in MLB 10; it's been replaced by an automatically generated sportsmanship rating that will reflect how you play online.

The game's online menus have been expanded to be more in depth, which is more like the offline game, in fact. That means there are lots of options for league commissioners, including the ability to drop and replace league participants, as well as detailed statistics on not just all participants in the league, but also real stats for all of the MLB players that are in that league. The team is bringing back the full online draft, so you'll be able to hold a live draft with your buddies, set up your queue ahead of time, and draft the team of your dreams. An interesting wrinkle for this year's game is the addition of player energy. As a manager, you'll need to be aware of the stamina of all the players on your team; there are also injuries this year, along with a 40-team roster that should give you more options of depth should your team be hit by the injury bug.

One significant change to the online community in MLB 10 is the sportsmanship rating, which replaces the star-rating system of player rating used in previous versions of the game. In those games, players would have the option to rate an opponent on a five-star scale after a game. Producers told me they weren't big fans of this system because they don't feel it accurately reflected a player's experience with the game; in many cases, players were being rated poorly because they blew out their opponent (or lost badly), and there were a good chunk of players that simply clicked through the rating automatically leaving three-star feedback (which was the default). As a result, the team has removed the ability for players to rate one another and, instead, focused on the sportsmanship rating. This is a number that is defined less on your skill as an online player and more about your behavior in the game. Playing full games to completion will improve your sportsmanship rating, for example, while headhunting batters or quitting out of games early will negatively affect your sportsmanship rating.

When you couple these additions with multiple trade types (1-for-3 trades, 1-for-1, and the like, all of which need to be approved by other league members to prevent fire sales when someone decides to leave the league) and the ability to set custom sliders for your league (or download and use slider settings from others), it's clear that Sony has spent a lot of dev cycles on MLB 10's online suite. Here's hoping all of these additions are equaled by lag-free play on the diamond once the game is released in March.

Our MLB 10: The Show series continues tomorrow with a look at the Franchise mode and the game's presentation.

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