It’s been a strange time for sports fans, with stadiums devoid of fans, masked stars in locker rooms and a few clubs even considering starting their own super leagues. Sport in the past year has been a bit… weird. So when a game comes along that loads up the bleachers and brings back those warm feelings of days past, it’s hard not to feel a little more normal. Welcome to MLB The Show 21, the 16th release of the highly praised Sony exclusive baseball series. This year’s installment however, swings for the fences and may leave some feeling as if it’s coming a bit short.
First and foremost, let’s address the elephant in the room: for the first time in its lauded history, MLB The Show, a previously Sony exclusive title, has arrived on Xbox Series platforms. While this will certainly leave a few PlayStation fans feeling like someone has stolen their base, it hasn’t detracted from the core experience or visual appearance. At first glance, The Show’s graphical fidelity seems a marginal improvement over its predecessor; there is definitely a noticeable improvement in textures and lighting but some might find the ‘next-gen’ step up a little underwhelming.
That’s not to say MLB The Show 21 is an ugly game, it shines on all fronts, especially when you’re standing at the plate on Wrigley Field in the middle of a cool Fall evening. Lighting is exquisite, batter’s helmets reflect the rally towl-twirling fans in the stands and beads of sweat dribble down a pitcher’s stoic mug, facing a 3-on, no-out scenario.
It’s on the field that MLB The Show 21 really stretches its legs. The addition of hundreds of new animations is a welcomed one, with a much more noticeable and natural feel to movement and player fluidity. Fielding in particular has a much smoother and more lifelike feel to it, with complex double plays or outfield relays feeling much more natural instead of zipping across the field without much effort. Pitching also sees some love with a new interface, ‘Pin-point Pitching’, which utilizes precise movements on the right-thumbstick to carve out a line in order to perform a certain pitch type. While daunting, it is easily the most rewarding as timing and accuracy are key and, frankly, there is nothing quite like zipping a screwball past Albert Pujols for a complete shutout.
Pitching also sees some love with a new interface, ‘Pin-point Pitching’, which utilizes precise movements on the right-thumbstick...
There is no way to focus solely on one position anymore, with a revolving door of ‘archetypes’ available to use.
One tablespoon Star Wars, a dollop of motorsport, a splash of Metal Gear. And a pinch of space magic. Mix and blend. Smashing! Is also running for congress.
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