The San Diego Studios have always pushed the boundaries of any PlayStation console with their MLB The Show series. The series has consistently been the most appropriate representation of their associated sport and continues with MLB The Show 18 . The task of improving a perfect representation of a sport is becoming increasingly difficult, but the developers manage to apply new touches every year. Fans come for the superb baseball experience, but want things to stay fresh. MLB The show 18 offers enough improvements in the right direction, but unfortunately a lot is left out. The most important aspect is that the actual baseball game is wiped out and the graphics help throw it out of the park.
This is the first year I have an HDR TV, so there is the option of having the best available pictures. The game consists of three visual options: balanced, sharper and faster. The sharper picture option that runs on a PS4 Pro adds the most detail and while the gameplay runs at a consistent frame rate, the cut scenes are extremely sluggish. The balanced option, which is the default option, combines the best of both worlds, resulting in dynamic resolution. The option that looks best, however, is faster because the game runs at a much smoother frame rate and animates extremely lifelike. There is a visual deterioration, but the player models and stadiums still look good. The HDR can sometimes look good, but sometimes the reflection of objects and players is too much. It can really bring afternoons to life in certain situations. The option can be enabled or disabled in the visual settings. The end result is the best-looking rendition of MLB The Show to date.
San Diego Studios has implemented a much more accessible and visually appealing menu. Many tutorials that make the eyes easier and facilitate navigation in menus enrich the experience. The Show 1
Ball physics has been improved and this is immediately noticeable. Beating a ball feels fresh when it comes out of the bat. The typical hits seem a bit more varied, and even diving for a ball of defense and blocking feels completely new. There's a new swing graphic in the batter's box that helps to prove that you're swinging early or late. One thing I've noticed is still the abundance of foulballs that sometimes seem unreal. The game has the option to hit with a directed interface to aim your swing, zone to use a cursor or analog for pure timing. Pitching interfaces are still the same. Once upon a time there was a new way to beat or pitch every year, but nothing new has been added in recent years.
To complete the broadcast experience, Matt Vasgersian returns as the voice of the show. Next to him are commentator Dan Plesac and new commentator Mark DeRosa. Neither out of Vasgersian has a challenging voice and the commentary can still be repeated. What was done this year was live recording between the three, which allows a more natural delivery. Vasgersian is not as repetitive as in the past, which may be due to less puns and more focus on the plot. Many dialogues have been created, but perhaps it would be a good idea in the future to resort to any station that makes official MLB network transmissions or a separate comment bank for each of the three available broadcast options.
The franchise, the Road to the Show and the Diamond Dynasty returns as premiere modes. The franchise mode feels more accessible and exporting trades and signing players are very easy. The season is also divided into different levels so that it feels like it has broken up. When starting the mode, players can choose how deep their options should be in terms of team management. It still contains the daily radio show. Franchise is still useful with a fresh coat of paint. Diamond Dynasty is the card-based mode in which players collect stubs and continue to build their teams via the risk-like Conquest mode or play online. Legends cards can be obtained as Babe Ruth and Ken Griffey, Jr. These will vary in levels so you can start a 70 rated Babe Ruth and Art will take the fun out of it.
The most impressive mode in MLB The Show 18 is Road to the Show. In the past, players have created a player and played an entry game and been drafted, but this year it goes a bit deeper. After not engaging in fashion in recent years, I was impressed by the narrative aspect and the speed of progress. Scouts will first look at your skills in an exercise and then your player will play two friendly matches. If you do not like where you were later drafted, you can go back to college. Choosing the answers helps define the player you are because the mode offers a bit more backstage action.
Control in the field will seem familiar to you. The show is usually more suitable for advanced users, even if the modes and menus are more user-friendly. Fielding uses weight and momentum to move in the field. There are also some baserunning quirks like trying to push everyone and your runners just do not do it. In Road to the Show, field control feels even more difficult. The hitting and pitching goes up in the franchise, but the fielding model could be modernized.
Noteworthy are also the return of the retro-mode and the daily challenges. The retro mode features a 16-bit nostalgic overlay and plays an arcade style of baseball. Your franchise can even be played in this mode. This mode is designed for couch co-op and is a fun mode to play with. The daily challenges are addictive. The season started with an Aaron Judge Challenge that felt a bit like the classic Triple Play Baseball Extreme mode. These points change and give incentive points.
What has been removed is the heavily played online franchise and the generic season mode. Many players have bought the game specifically for the online franchise, while others do not want to play 162 games. Simulating does not help or has reduced games. Baseball is one of the few games in which playing a full game mimics the full stats, as opposed to trying to play quarter-hours in Madden or twelve-minute quarters in an NBA game. In recent years, some things such as the pitch and motion control prediction have been pulled out of the PS3 days. VR baseball would be worth exploring in the future, and hopefully the reintroduction of online franchises will not be considered a "new" feature in the future.
The most nagging issue of the series was online functionality and so far it seems like a step back this year. Not only does online gaming provide a consistent hiccup experience with a sport that can not afford hiccups, but the launch was fraught with server issues. This can eliminate cloud saves and transactions on Diamond Dynasty. If the server is not available, there are certain modes that are inaccessible. A patch has recently been released to fix the server issues, but only time will tell if this has been improved. While online gameplay is not nearly as bad as last generation, at best it's usable at the moment.
Concluding remarks:  PlayStation 4 is the only place where you can experience the best and most authentic baseball game. MLB The Show 18 contains a lot of content to keep players busy while providing the best graphics and the strongest core game in a sports simulation. Franchise Mode feels more intuitive, Diamond Dynasty is packed with legends and many different outlets to get more tickets, and Road to the Show is the best version the series has ever seen. The set ball mechanics can be felt immediately, but there still seems to be plenty of foul balls. While the lack of something revolutionary can annoy annual players, the baseball game that plays The Show 18 will attract baseball fans.