MLB The Show 21 was released Apr. 20 by San Diego Studios as the 16th installment in the MLB The Show series starting back in 2006. In 2014 MLB The Show became the only baseball simulation video game available to console users. With MLB The Show being exclusively made for PlayStation, Xbox users were left with no baseball video games to be played. This year, MLB The Show 21 was the first installment of the game to allow for Xbox and PlayStation compatibility. This change gives Xbox users the ability to play the game on their own and with PlayStation users as well.
With the release of both the Xbox Series X and the PS5 within the last year, there was a lot of pressure on MLB The Show to create a game that would not only maintain the core audience from past years but also enhance the elements that draw on a new crowd of players. The game received generally positive reviews with IGN, Metacritic, and Tom’s Guide all giving the game an 8/10. For some Xbox users the review of the game is completely separate from comparison to past games and many were left with an extremely positive impression.
There is not a lot of downtime in this game; it gives players the option to simulate the game or watch the entire thing. For someone who does not enjoy all the downtime in baseball, this addition to the game is crucial for keeping me entertained. Anytime the player is not either at bat or fielding can be skipped over which means that the player does not need to wait through the majority of the game that they are not directly playing in. Along with an exciting soundtrack filled with catchy songs the gameplay is extremely entertaining and does an excellent job at eliminating boredom due to slow gameplay.
Milo Waltenbaugh, a senior on Spartan Varsity Baseball, said that “MLB 21 has the best soundtrack of any sports video game that I have ever played, it seems like they put a lot of thought into what baseball players actually want to listen to in order to get them in the zone or hyped to play.”
The game is very well designed with customization options for the build, play style, and abilities for your personalized character. This means that the game gives the player a different experience for every at bat and fielding play. Many aspects of the game show incredible attention to detail like options for players to design and use their own custom stadium and give a nickname to their characters that the announcer uses during gameplay.
Xbox players that are just now able to play the game are excited to try the different game modes and customization features, “I think the stadium creator is the most fun part of the game honestly, I like sports games but things like an option to design an entire stadium change the game a lot making me even more excited to play,” junior Quinn Devine said.
The biggest challenge is hitting. There are changes to pitch speed, pitcher style, the zone of the umpire, different pitches are used more commonly with different players, etc. With all of these elements to take into consideration, hitting the ball in the game feels almost as realistic as making a decision to swing at the ball in real life. The game exemplifies the mental aspect of baseball incredibly accurately and the game simulation feels realistic enough to really engage the player in the gameplay.
Almost everything about the game has been made with user experience in mind, thus creating a clean interface and deeply interactive gameplay for the user to become immersed in. The only downside is that there is not very much variability in the types of games you can play with Home Run derby being the only game mode that isn’t an actual baseball game. This is mitigated by the different game modes including different player relationships to include decision-making processes and by giving players the ability to make one character that can both hit and play in the field. With entertaining gameplay and creative career modes, this game is definitely worth the buy for both baseball players and video game lovers alike.
Xbox: $59.99 PS5: $69.99