Author Topic: MLB The Show 24 (Switch) Review  (Read 1990 times)

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Offline NWR_Neal

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MLB The Show 24 (Switch) Review
« on: March 18, 2024, 03:50:39 AM »

A great baseball game marred by technical limitations.

Even after three years, it’s jarring seeing the PlayStation branding appear on Nintendo Switch courtesy of Sony San Diego’s long-running MLB The Show series. Back in 2022 when The Show first hit Switch, it was an impressive port, taking a deep, full-featured simulation baseball game and making it run well on Switch complete with crossplay on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. This is still an impressive port, but the sheen is starting to wear off as the Switch marches into its final days and some of the new content on The Show doesn’t look as nice downgraded to run on decade-old tech.

In spite of that, MLB The Show is still an incredible baseball game, especially in handheld mode. The gameplay on the field remains virtually unchanged, with some finetuning here and there. Hitting and pitching are still extremely nuanced and well balanced, with an array of smart options and variety. This year I got more into the PCI zone hitting option, which was added a few years ago. It’s a great embellishment on the classic timing-based swinging methods in baseball games, and I don’t know if I’ll ever go back at this point. Fielding feels a little snappier, likely thanks to the new animations added throughout the game.

In general, when the ball is pitched or hit into the field, The Show is great. It’s when you’re not doing that the Switch version starts shambling around. Load times were present before, but now it’s impacted my pace of play more often. That’s likely not being helped by the launch weekend server issues, but no matter what the true cause is, the menus in the game feel far more sluggish this year. Server issues are not guaranteed to level out, but the first days have been a debacle as I have regularly gotten bounced from online modes. Thankfully, the game seems to be smart about when it auto-saves because I have lost little meaningful progress when the servers crash. However, on top of the server problems, I just straight up had multiple game crashes in general, force-closing the game and making me restart from the Switch menu. Some of this could be bad luck since I’ve never had this happen in the past entries in the series, but it’s been sadly more frequent in MLB The Show 24.

Even as I wrestled with technical shortcomings, I still spent a lot of time in the Diamond Dynasty mode, which is this game’s card-based Ultimate Team-esque mode. Like recent outings, you do not need to spend much real money to field a competitive squad in the mode. You are granted a decent amount of packs at the start and there are easy ways to accumulate a decent roster. Early on, my outfield had Roberto Clemente, Mickey Mantle, and Ken Griffey Jr; that’s an all-timer of an outfield. Diamond Dynasty didn’t get too many changes this year, with most of them being tweaks to the larger changes made last season.

The mode that seemingly got the most love this year was the Road to the Show mode, the create-a-player story where you take your player from the minors to the pros. The most noteworthy and awesome addition is that you can create a female player and take her on a history-making quest from the MLB Draft to the pros. I love the concept, but in execution, the narrative is told in a stale format regularly interrupted by some of the most compressed video of faux MLB Network sets I’ve ever seen. So much of this threadbare plot is told via clumsy text messages between your player and her friend or agent as you watch your created heroine awkwardly sit in a clubhouse. It’s a shame because the idea is so cool. You can see the kernels of an incredible mode in Road to the Show, but it’s sadly not ready for the big leagues, at least on Switch.

On the flipside, the Storylines section from last year returns with more fascinating history from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. 10 players get a feature this year, with four available at launch, including legendary home-run hitter Hank Aaron and the first professional woman player Toni Stone. The rest will be released throughout the year. Similarly, Yankee legend Derek Jeter gets his own Storyline as well. At launch, the first few seasons of his lengthy career are covered, which include the majority of his World Series wins. The rest of his career will be covered in content drops throughout the year as well. Storylines are such an incredible way to present sports history in an interactive and engaging manner. I hope The Show keeps adding to this in the form of long ago and recent history. These are so clever and polished that it makes the failing of the narrative in the Road to the Show mode stand out even more.

I remain happy that MLB The Show 24 is on Switch since it brings a quality simulation baseball game with current rosters to a Nintendo platform, something that has not been the norm in the past 20 years. While the Switch version is showing its technical limitations and age, it’s still a fine way to play through the bountiful content spread across the game. Optimally it’s best played in handheld, but no matter how you play it, the gameplay is rock solid. Additionally, the way it treats baseball history with the Storylines mode is incredible. Now if only the video wasn’t so compressed and I didn’t have to worry about the game or server crashing at any point.

Neal Ronaghan
Director, NWR

"Fungah! Foiled again!"