MLB The Show 23 Review
Another year, another annual sports game! MLB The Show 23 is the latest installment in this long-running series that has been unrivaled thanks to its strong gameplay and fantastic recreation of the sport that has fans and baseball aficionados generally satisfied year in, and year out.
While MLB The Show 22 was quite a middling affair, not by anything else other than it being more of an incremental update, Sony’s San Diego Studio is coming into this year with bats at the ready. While the general gameplay remains, and it is solid in most aspects, the addition of The Negro Leagues is exactly what the game needed to stay fresh and relevant.
Solid, but way too Familiar
This shouldn’t come as a complete shock to sports games followers, but MLB The Show 23 is pretty much the same game from last year, save for some updates that most players might not even notice. This isn’t really a bad thing, per se, since it has come to a point where the game is very solid in most aspects that sweeping changes are going to be problematic. As someone who always jumps into the story mode, Road to the Show proves to be quite the disappointment once again.
As a comparison, MLB The Show 23 is similar to NBA 2K23 in many aspects, especially with its campaign/story mode, and not in a way that I’m particularly happy about. For a couple of years now, the story mode feels like it’s been getting stale, not receiving enough updates to make it feel worth the time. The actual plot has been repetitive, and while other sports titles have had very cheesy outings, there’s at least some semblance of a story that’s sufficiently engaging enough to follow.
I’d like to think that Road to the Show is a mode that gets a decent amount of playtime across the player base, and it’s sad that no significant progress has been made for it, so this is definitely a miss that I’d like to see rectified in future entries.
While the other modes are essentially the same as well, Diamond Dynasty sees quite a great change that will lessen the grind in the long run. This mode is what MyTEAM is to NBA 2K23, and you’ll be collecting cards through packs to build the team of your dreams. You’ll be competing in seasons that will require a new roster every time, forcing players to adjust and adapt to the rotation.
These modes have a tendency to be microtransaction heavy, but offering players cards that are highly rated from the get-go makes things feel more competitive as a whole without feeling the need to spend Stubbs right away.
As a whole, MLB The Show 23 also looks and feels the same, which is a good and bad thing at the same time. Good, because the gameplay is as solid and fun as ever. This is a constant reminder that MLB The Show 23 is the best baseball game around, bar none, and it would be completely foolish to shake things up drastically on that end, save for some meaningful but incremental updates.
Bad, because the lack of competition has stagnated its development, and you can see it in some aspects like its visuals. It has to be said that MLB The Show 23 does not look bad at all. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, as the character models mostly look like their real-life counterparts, but there’s no significant leap from last year, even in the PS5 and Xbox Series versions.
Is it unreasonable to ask such a thing, especially when it already looks good? I might be a bit too hard on it, but there are some improvements that could be made to MLB The Show 23 especially when it comes to the stadiums and the details that come along with them.
Hands down, the best thing added to MLB The Show 23 is the Storylines mode that features The Negro Leagues. I’m not quite a baseball buff, but like other sports, shining the spotlight on the various athletes that have been a part of the rich history of the sport.
In this mode, you’ll be going through what could be considered a history lesson, introducing you to players such as Leroy Paige and Jackie Robinson, exceptional talents that have made an impact in Baseball. It’s not as simple as introducing them but also helps spread awareness and impart a message about how these extraordinary personalities championed the sport despite tall challenges during their time.
In some way, my disappointment with the Road to the Show mode was all but gone when I played through The Negro Leagues storyline in MLB The Show 23. Negro Leagues Baseball Museum President Bob Kendrick narrates the events, giving players a chance to relive iconic moments in their careers and overcome them based on a series of challenges.
This mode is also littered with details that also make it stand out. Similar to NBA 2K23’s MyNBA Eras, the presentation in The Negro Leagues adapts to its setting. From the crowds to the actual stadiums, the presentation is a big reason why this mode looks and plays fantastic, and the attention to detail even down to the animations and uniforms is astounding.
What We Liked:
- The Negro Leagues is an ace addition
- Diamond Dynasty tweaks make it feel fresh
- Solid gameplay that’s best in class
What We Didn’t Like:
- Incremental updates that do not impress
- Road to the Show has not improved at all
Verdict: Buy It!
While still fundamentally the same, MLB The Show 23 succeeds in adding a new feature that really adds to the overall value of the game. The Negro Leagues is a triumphant addition, highlighting not only these icons of the sport but also showing their path to recognition. Even as a newcomer to the sport, it’s not hard to recognize the work put into this mode, and should be considered a staple moving forward.
Some modes like Road to the Show have remained stagnant and despite a few welcome changes to Diamond Dynasty, MLB The Show 23 is essentially the same game as its predecessor. Depending on who you ask, this may be a good or bad thing, but there’s no denying that this installment still cements it as the best baseball game in the market at the moment.
*MLB The Show 23 was reviewed on a PS5 with a review code provided by the publisher.