Author Topic: MLB The Show 23 (Switch) Review  (Read 718 times)

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Offline NWR_Neal

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MLB The Show 23 (Switch) Review
« on: March 28, 2023, 03:43:03 AM »

A respectable sophomore season after a surprisingly great rookie campaign.

The second season of the Sony-made baseball game on Nintendo Switch isn’t a huge upgrade over the rookie year, but when the initial salvo was so strong, more of the same (and updated rosters) isn’t a big detriment. MLB The Show 23 on Switch is still an impressive technical feat, taking essentially everything from the beautiful-looking PlayStation and Xbox versions and making it work without much playable compromise on an increasingly ancient hybrid device. The visuals might look rough at a glance, but everything runs smoothly in spite of the fact that finer details blur together and player faces look flat and dated. This might be the best this series can look on Nintendo Switch, but it’s an acceptable level of visual jank for such a strong portable experience that remains compatible with other platforms via crossplay and crossave.

As far as what is brand new for this iteration, the coolest addition is Storylines, which currently features what amounts to an interactive museum about the Negro Leagues. You can learn about eight different players from the era, filled with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum President Bob Kendrick going over each one’s history, whether it’s Satchel Paige playing pro baseball at age 60 or Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in the MLB. Kendrick’s videos are interspersed with playable moments where you can play as those players in ways reflective of their fascinating histories. As most pro sports leagues are pushing well over 100 years of history at this point, I hope content like this comes out in every form it can. I haven’t been this delightfully surprised at a new mode in a sports game since I played Franchise mode in Madden for the first time more than two decades ago. Even better, more Storylines are coming in the future.

Beyond Storylines, the section that got a lot of fine-tuning and tweaking is the always-online Diamond Dynasty mode, where you collect baseball cards and make your own team of modern and classic players. While you can pay to win in a way here, I’m still struck by how the game directly tells you that you can just play the game and earn enough cards to be good without spending real money. The option is there, but it’s not the focus. I enjoyed seeing a lot more legends pop up in Diamond Dynasty, whether it’s the likes of Yankees legends like Derek Jeter, Babe Ruth, or Mariano Rivera, or Nintendo favorites like Ken Griffey Jr. It’s still a riot seeing Cy Young and Lefty Grove pitch in modern settings.

Diamond Dynasty also is more open to getting high-ranking players earlier on. In past years, it would be months before top-value players would be accessible. That’s no longer the case. Also, Mini-seasons are tweaked to offer up more variety, whether it’s 28-game seasons where you play three-inning games with just lefties on your roster or just players from a specific team. Diamond Dynasty continues to be an extremely good mode with a lot of longevity even if you don’t spend a dime.

Franchise Mode and the streamlined March to October have been adjusted and updated to better replicate the changes made to the MLB last year. It reflects the new playoff structure, the dual-position Ohtani Rule, and the universal DH. A lot of behind the scenes tweaks have overall made these a better experience, including improved logic for simulated aspects and computer-controlled teams. Also the draft in Franchise will no longer bizarrely feature 26-year-old players. It’ll be more reflective of the actual draft where players are in their late teens or early 20s.

Road to the Show is a mode that didn’t have a lot of updates. I still find it enjoyable and fresh as someone who hadn’t touched MLB The Show in a long time before its Switch debut, but I can start to see some of the wheels coming off as it’s very similar to last year’s mode. Here’s hoping Road to the Show gets some love in the next year or two. The ability to use the MLB The Show mobile app to take a picture of your face to use for your create-a-player is new this year too, but I could not manage to get it to work in game.

MLB The Show 23 continues to be an incredible baseball game if you’re looking for a flexible experience with real-life players. You can get deep into the details with hardcore simulation play, especially with the improved in-game UI that gives you a cleaner readout on the specifics of your pitch or swing. You can also flip the game to casual and just sit back and relax, ripping some dingers and striking some dudes out. Or you can toss out the idea of playing full games and just experience history in the incredible Negro League Storylines mode. Even if the visuals border on being potato quality, this game rocks on Switch.

Neal Ronaghan
Director, NWR

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