Sports simulations don’t get much better than “MLB The Show 16,” the latest in the acclaimed baseball series.
It helps that “The Show” has built itself into a powerhouse among sports games, to the point that it has, more or less, perfected the way baseball games should look, feel and behave.
Because it’s main attraction modes are so well executed year to year, “MLB The Show 16” doesn’t suffer much despite its major new additions — both of which tie into its returning Diamond Dynasty mode — largely falling flat.
Battle Royale lets players draft a team from scratch. Unlike the card-based team building in the main attraction of Diamond Dynasty, Battle Royale rosters will more closely resemble those of real-life teams in terms of distribution of talent. Players are separated into diamond, gold, silver and bronze caliber, and teams are allotted a certain number of each caliber player. That team is then taken online to play until it loses twice, after which it is disbanded.
The goal is to reap rewards that will boost the primary Diamond Dynasty squad, but it would be nice if this mode was also available to simply play with a buddy for fun.
The other addition, Conquest, is more bizarre. Picture a game of Risk, except winners are decided by playing baseball instead of rolling dice. That gives a good idea of what Conquest mode feels like. I love Risk, but it feels too out of place in a baseball simulation.
At least Franchise and Road to the Show remain as strong as ever, with the career-centric RttS seeing more upgrades than the team-running mode.
RttS features a mechanic called ShowTime, a limited resource that allows for better precision for a pitch or a swing. It’s a little out of place for such an immersive simulation experience, but it’s not offensive.
Additionally, it’s now possible to play games in the same series without going back to the menu. It’s a major time saver and keeps seasons moving.
Franchise mode adds player morale and a revamped budgeting system to the experience. The morale system is useful in free agent negotiations as a means to know how much it will take to make a player happy, but it’s nothing revolutionary.
Most importantly, the on-field experience is the best in the sports genre. The animations are terrific, including tons of player-specific stances and such. Heck, the team at SCE San Diego Studio even created a mechanic specifically for switch pitcher Pet Venditte.