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MLB 09: The Show – The Demo Impressions

Submitted by on Tuesday, 10 February 20092 Comments

Phillies.jpgA demo for MLB 09: The Show was released last week and I decided to take it for a spin over the weekend.  Being away from the game for so long meant there were some cobwebs to shake off, a lot of them.  But I managed to hold my own at the ballpark.  How many times must you hit a batter with a fastball to the head for a fight to occur in demo you ask?  Read on thrill seekers, read on.

The demo will have you believe that you are watching an HD broadcast of America’s favorite past-time, it looks that good. The stadium looks fantastic, the animations are fluid, and the production values are on par with all the fanciness found on baseball broadcasts.  The presentation is great and the commentators’ chatter flows naturally and do not seem pre-recorded at all.  Remember when the commentators sounded like this?

Commentator 1:  (neutral tone) Beckham… (excited tone) gets the ball and runs down the pitch.

Commentator 2:  (excited tone) What a great play by… (neutral tone) Beckham.

Those days are gone.  These commentators did not have that robotic tone that marked the difference between a general remark and a specific player name or number.  You are welcome for the futbol football reference by the way.

The animations for the players on the field are smooth and natural and almost pass for the real thing; the crowd is another story.  You can spot clusters of the same character model three or four times in the crowd, all doing the same three or four animations.  I especially like the one where a crowd member gets up, only to sit back down.  When you see four of them doing it at the same time it’s pretty funny.  When those four are the same character it’s downright hilarious.  But this is a demo of a game of baseball, not of enhanced crowd modeling and behavior so it gets a pass.

MLB09 (3).jpg

You get to play four innings (a regular game is 9 innings) and you can choose between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox.  Although being geographically closer to the Rays, I stuck with the Sox as they are your default user controlled team (my guess is that a SCEA programmer is a huge Sox fan).  In my playthroughs, just like last year’s World Series, the Rays won it.  Every time.

Pitching was a breeze once I got the timing of the pitching swing mechanism (think Everybody’s Golf), select the type of pitch from the face buttons, aim with the right analog stick and tap ‘x’ to start the swinging mechanic.  I was striking batters out in no time.  I was really pitching, not just belly itchin’.  But batting is a whole different beast.  Just like in real life, you must have a good eye and great timing to get a hit.  I only managed to get one home run, and boy did it feel good to crack that sucker out of the park.  The replay adds a nice bass boost to the hit which makes it that bit cooler.

Even though I have yet to win a game, let alone an inning, I had a great time nonetheless.  I was impressed by the overall quality of the demo and I can’t wait to try out the full game, especially all the training modes and audio and music options.

I am sorry to report that even after running a 50+ hit baseman streak there were no bench clearing brawls in the demo.  Two key moments kept my hopes up though, after hitting the third batter in a row, an animation triggered in which you see the catcher and the recipient of my fastball shoving each other while the umpire tries to keep the peace.  The second one was when one of the commentators hoped the batter had ‘extra armor’ as he stepped up to the plate; that kept me going for another 30 pitches to the body.  Here’s hoping we get to fight in the full game.