PSP Review – MLB 09: The Show
Let me start off by saying that I’m actually NOT a close follower of baseball. I normally prefer basketball or occasionally football. But I happened upon a copy of SCEA’s excellent MLB08: The Show for my PSP sometime last year, and have been hooked on the series ever since. I built up my character from nothing, got through the minor leagues and finally made it to The Show. It was exhilarating, fast-paced, and most importantly, fun. There were a couple of problems however, which would occur most often whenever the ball was in play. So does MLB09: The Show improve upon last year’s great entry?
For starters, the Road to the Show mode is here and is basically the same experience. You guide a nobody through Spring Training, and have a chance at being drafted by a team that you chose. However, expect to see stiff competition from other members of the team vying for the same spot. In my (so far) brief time with the game, I finished up Spring Training and was offered a 3 year contract with the team of my choice, the Dodgers. Sure, I’ll start in AA but I’m sure to rank up yet again. The first disappointment here is that you can’t import your character from the previous iteration of the game.
The graphics haven’t been noticeably updated in this game, which is a shame as I think the PSP is capable of better-looking baseball. However, this lack in graphical upgrades may be due to the fact that the framerate is now very steady. In last year’s version, anytime dust was kicked up by an in-play ball the game engine would stutter. That problem is gone in MLB 09. The ability to play custom music as your RttS player makes his way to the plate, or after he hits a home run, is nice and can actually pump you up. Though the manual also spoke about adding custom chants to the game, I could not find the option and suspect that this is simply carry-over text from the PS3 version; it also mentioned a hard drive when speaking about custom music.
The PSP version of this game does include online options. Every single time I tried to connect, there were all kinds of problems. Games wouldn’t start, or if they did I would receive a “connection lost” error once it finally loaded. The rare games that actually did play would get interrupted and eventually drop entirely. When connections finally worked, those few innings would be torture. The framerate would dip to drastic levels, button presses wouldn’t register on time, and even the announcers would say the wrong things! In all of the areas of this game, it is the online portion that needs the most work. Having said that, I did appreciate the ability to have rosters updated each week. So yes, in-game the Dodgers now have Manny. Also, although both PSP and PS2 users have access to the same rooms and message boards, the two platforms are not compatible. This is kind of annoying when trying to challenge someone to a round of MLB 09, only to learn they have a PS2, not a PSP.
Something worth mentioning is that King of the Diamond, an arcade-like game mode, is conspicuously absent from this year’s addition. I was sorely disappointed upon discovering this mode was removed, as it was unique, fun, had a lot of replay value. Thankfully, the Home Run Derby mode is still here. But if I had to choose between the two, I would have gladly tossed out the Home Run Derby mode.
Overall, this game is a subtle improvement over last year’s game. The framerate does not drop during play, custom walk-up/HR music is a welcome addition, and Road to the Show is still great. Online play is not up-to-par, however, and King of the Diamond should still be here instead of the Home Run Derby. If you already have MLB08: The Show, I would say this isn’t a must-buy. However, this is a fine entry to the MLB: The Show series and should service new fans well.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
Allows for custom walk-up/HR music.
Online play isn’t up to par, but the roster updates are useful.