MLB The Show 22 Review
Annual sports games are probably some of the toughest games to review, at least for me. With the core gameplay staying the same apart from little tweaks here and there, it would be unreasonable to expect a total refresh every time.
Just as NBA 2K is to basketball, MLB The Show is to Baseball – they are both the best games in their respective fields and their gameplay has been refined over the years almost to perfection at this point in time.
MLB The Show 22 is the latest release from Sony’s San Diego Studio and is also the first time we will be seeing the game on the Switch as well. It couldn’t get any weirder for me as I booted up my Xbox Series X and Nintendo Switch only to see a PS Studios intro reel playing. What a world we live in!
That said, we’ll look into what we think of the game and give a bit of focus on the Switch version further down.
One thing we’ll immediately get out of the way is this – MLB The Show 22 is a great Baseball game. From actual gameplay that accurately captures the feel, there’s very little to nitpick here. This is one of the best Baseball experiences in the market, and for fans looking for a quality game, you can’t go wrong here.
In terms of features, MLB The Show 22 is filled to the brim, something that fans of the sport will enjoy, with various modes that will appeal to every type of player. If you’re looking for a card-based collectathon, Diamond Dynasty is more than enough to scratch that itch. March to October serves as your season mode but fast forwards you to crucial points that make it more streamlined and exciting. You’ll also get the usual multiplayer modes, exhibition, and much more. There’s also online co-op which is a nice addition, but I personally don’t think I’ll be using it.
One feature I always look forward to, even in other sports games, is its campaign mode. Coming from playing last year’s installment, MLB The Show 22’s Road to the Show (think MyCAREER) felt like playing the same thing, even down to the presentation. It felt so similar to the point that I probably wouldn’t have known what was new if I didn’t do my research.
That’s not to say the mode is bad, it’s actually very engaging especially for fans of the sport and of the game, but it would be great to see the same sort of production value here similar to what 2K has been doing with MyCAREER. You’ll still take your created player and bring him to superstar status, playing games and training to the top, but I would have preferred an actual storyline in between it all, no matter how cheesy it may be.
There’s not enough connection to your player in this mode, and while you’ll be playing actual games in between and ‘leveling up’ your stats based on your performance, going through the paces isn’t too exciting.
MLB The Show 22 carries the series tradition of fantastic controls that cater to the freshest rookie to even the most seasoned veteran. From batting to pitching and even fielding, each has multiple options that offer a control scheme that anyone can use. The flexibility here is second to none and is one of the better control offerings across any sports game.
Pitching, in particular, is very involved depending on what option you choose. If you want a no-frills approach, classic is the way to go as it only requires the player to choose what to throw and where. Players who want more active participation in the process can choose the most extreme option (Pinpoint) that requires heavy use of the analog stick.
One of the options that I love that has carried over to MLB The Show 22 is its dynamic difficulty, which allows the players to start easy but also adjusts the game level based on performance. You’ll start with hitting almost every pitch thrown at you, even get in a few home runs here and there, but the adjustments made are gradual and most of all, it feels like you are actually improving rather than the game just being instantly unplayable due to the excessive difficulty curve.
I’ve been playing post-launch and have had a few disconnection problems with online games, nothing too serious but I understand that mileage may vary for this so be warned.
As MLB The Show 22 slides into the Nintendo Switch, there are a number of obvious statements we can already make, with the biggest one being a downgrade in visual fidelity. It doesn’t look as bad as you would imagine it to be. In fact, despite the difference in power, MLB The Show 22 on the switch looks surprisingly decent!
There are very noticeable jagged edges and missing detail, even flickering at some points, but overall players are recreated properly in the game with passable animations. Without other versions to compare it to, MLB The Show 22 on the Switch looks great considering the hardware.
Where it stumbles is keeping a steady frame rate, especially in handheld mode, which is how I would expect most people to play. There are obvious dips during some animation transitions and what this does is make the overall experience very inconsistent. Coming from trying the game out on both a PS5 and Xbox Series X, playing MLB The Show 22 on the Switch often required a shift in timing, especially when it was my turn to bat.
Docked mode is the better option, but you’re obviously losing out on one of the biggest advantages of the Switch – portability.
This is most apparent with the implementation of cross-progression (which is fantastic and easy to set up, by the way), where you just want to pick up your Switch before you head out and continue playing from where you left off on your PS or Xbox. Cross-progression works and is a highlight feature of this installment for sure.
What we liked:
- Easily one of the best baseball games out there with great and fluid gameplay
- Fantastic cross-progress implementation
What we didn’t like:
- Watered down visuals and inconsistent frame rates on the Switch
- Even on PS5 and Xbox Series X, visuals don’t look that much different from last year
- Updates from MLB The Show 21 feel incremental
- Road to the Show has not changed
- Online play is a bit inconsistent.
Verdict: Wait for it.
MLB The Show 22 is the latest installment in the long-running series and, like most annual sports games, introduces some new features that make it an arguably better product than last year. One of my gripes from last year was that MLB The Show 21 didn’t really take advantage of the more powerful hardware of the PS5 and Xbox Series and it’s mostly the same complaint I have now. Maybe next year?
Similar to the likes of NBA 2K, many will most likely flock to its campaign mode called Road to the Show, and while it is a competent mode, there’s very little difference from last year’s outing, which is getting rather old at this point. Other features like Diamond Dynasty and March to October make a return, rounding up a full-featured installment.
One highlight for this year is MLB The Show 22’s Switch debut, which is a decent port, to say the least. If you can stand the watered-down visuals and the inconsistent frame rates, the system lends itself well to the type of game Baseball is, where you can play a few innings in short bursts on the go.
Long story short, if you’re coming from MLB The Show 21, there’s very little reason to slide into MLB The Show 22. A few improvements here and there won’t really turn many heads and only the most hardcore of players will notice these changes. Otherwise, if MLB The Show 22 is your first time at bat, especially for Switch players, then the game is easily one of the best baseball experiences out there.
*MLB The Show 22 was reviewed on a PS5, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch with a review code provided by the publisher.