PSP Review – MLB 11: The Show

With the onset of spring, many fans of America’s pastime are likely getting the itch to pick up a baseball videogame. Sony fans, for the past few years, have enjoyed exclusivity of MLB: The Show, the undisputed leader in the genre. While 2K’s MLB series has its fans, most will agree that it’s really no contest: The Show is the king.

This year’s iteration feels right in line with the rest of The Show’s releases. It maintains the same level of quality fans have come to expect from the series… problem is, it falls so closely in line that many fans might feel a little let down by the lack of innovation or, really, additions at all.

The Show’s gameplay is, simply put, fantastic on the PSP. It’s easy to understand for both vets and newcomers, and incredibly addicting for anyone even remotely interested in the sport. Pitching and batting are simple affairs, growing more complex the longer you play without ever feeling overly-complicated. This isn’t a stripped down port of a console game—it’s the real deal. The Show is as deep as ever, and while there are some definite shortcomings that are intrinsic to the handheld experience, they didn’t get in the way of SCE Studios San Diego making a stellar game.

There are plenty of modes to choose from, including franchise and, of course, Road to the Show. Road to the Show has, over the past few years, become a highlight of the series, filling the “Be a Pro Mode” requirement that many have when picking up a modern sports game. It mixes together some RPG elements to give gamers the ability to work through the minor leagues into the MLB. Every time you hit the plate you’re given a chance to improve your skills, eventually growing your character into an all-star. It isn’t as strong as Road to the Show available on the PS3, but it still gives a great feeling of persistence that many other sports games lack.

SCE Studios continues to impress in the visual department, too, with stunning graphics and a silky smooth framerate. When mixed together with the soundtrack and wonderful audio effects, it’s easy to lose yourself in the game. The crack of the bat, the scream of the crowd, it’s all there, and it feels like you’re a part of the game.

Not everything about MLB 11: The Show is sunshine and puppy-dogs, though. There are still some issues with the AI that makes the game feel a little unbalanced, and the lack of online multiplayer might be disappointing to some people. That said, it’s a feature that simply isn’t as important on a handheld as it is on consoles, and that’s something people should be used to by now. Sure, there are going to be those who do most of their gaming on portable systems, but it really isn’t worth getting upset about. The only reason it’s frustrating to see its continued absence is due to the lack of other upgrades to the title. It has been a year since MLB 10: The Show was released, and it’s obvious that a year’s worth of development time didn’t go into this title.

It’s apparent that the developers have become quite happy with the lead they’ve gained over the competition, and created a game that is little more than a roster update. In fact, it’s almost nothing more. If not for a few tweaks to the gameplay and some bug fixes, there really weren’t any noticeable updates from 2010’s iteration, and that’s going to leave fans looking for a leap forward from last year’s game feeling a bit betrayed. Luckily, it’s still the best baseball series on the market, and lack of innovation isn’t going to take that away anytime soon.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

+Great Gameplay

-Few Upgrades from 2010

-Online Multiplayer still MIA

7 out of 10