MLB 11: The Show

The Legend of Bartleby Cheezburger

MLB 11: The Show on PSP is the Field of Dreams for loners.
Author: Aram Lecis
Published: April 1, 2011
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I love sports. Love watching them, love playing them in real life. I put the FAN in fanatic. I'll watch virtually anything ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPN Whatevercrazychannelweadded puts on. World's Strongest Man? Check. Australian Rules Football? Yep. World Domino Classic? You betcha. My favorite TV show of all time? Cheap Seats. It's like Mystery Science Theater 3000 for weird old sports clips. Hell, I'll watch the goddamn Scripps National Spelling Bee.

But I can't really get into baseball. At least not watching full games. To me, baseball is best digested as a highlight package on Baseball Tonight so Chris "Boomer" Berman can just show me the home runs and web gems in 22 minutes, without all the tobacco spitting and crotch grabbing and stepping-off-the-plate that makes an average baseball game longer than an HBO miniseries and about as thrilling as your local school board meeting.

Sony San Diego understands that a lot of people feel the way I do. That's why their "The Show" franchise has established itself as the preeminent baseball franchise, taking up the mantle once held by PC stalwarts Earl Weaver Baseball and the High Heat franchise. MLB 11: The Show for PSP is unquestionably the only portable baseball game even worth your consideration. Realizing that the gameplay of video game baseball hasn't had anywhere to evolve from since the advent of the modem controller, the wizards at Sony have instead focused on adding in as many additional modes and presentation options as you can stuff into a game, and while there isn't a lot of reason to upgrade from last year's version, there is plenty of reason to jump onto the virtual diamond if you have been staying away because "baseball is boring."

When you first turn on MLB 11: The Show, you'll be greeted by a little "dog and pony" show that rivals the glitz of any Super Bowl halftime show I've ever seen. Once that ends, you're greeted by the main menu where you can choose to Quick Play a game, start a Franchise game, play Managerial mode, smack some dingers in Home Run Derby, or enter the Road to the Show mode. If you've played a game in this series before, you know that Road to the Show is the heart of this game, and the best way to bring back anyone who has grown tired of the monotony and timesink that a standard baseball game entails.

Before I delve more into RttS, let me touch upon the other modes. For the most part MLB 11 plays just like the PS3 version from last year. Quick Play is your standard exhibition mode that plays out like every other baseball game released in the last decade. The controls are tight and all the full suite of managerial options are there, everything highly customizable with the myriad sliders and menus, so you can have the whole thing play as arcade-y or sim-y or fusion-y as you like. Franchise mode lets you pick a team and run it through a full season (or short season) of games, and of course gives you GM duties to trade players, sign contracts, develop minor leaguers and just about everything else you've some to expect from a management sim.

Managerial mode is great for those who either can't get the hang of the gameplay, or just want to run a team and only have a tangential effect on the outcome of the games themselves. You can even get the view from the dugout while you watch the game, calling in hitting, running and pitching strategies from the same view as Don Mattingly. Home Run Mode pits you and you or you and your friend or four in a multi-round battle to see who can hit more taters without missing 10. It's very bare bones and much like the real contest, sounds a bit more exciting than it actually plays out.
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