If I used baseball terms to describe last year's MLB: The Show, I would say it was a solidly hit ball that drove in a few runs.
After playing the demo for MLB 09: The Show, I think the term I might use to describe this year's game is walk-off grand slam.
Now, this is a demo, and I know that, but the stage is set for what might be the best sports game to come around in quite some time. There are lingering questions, such as how the stat engine will work and how good the Franchise mode improvements are, among other things.
However, make no mistake about it, this game will be money -- pure, unlimited, beautiful money.
The stadium graphics and lighting effects are just beautiful...
From the stadium graphics, to the stunning lighting, to the animations, the MLB 09 demo looks prettier than any sports game I have ever played. At one point, I also had to remind myself that demos usually do not look as good as the final product.
As for the gameplay, well, I do not want to go into too much detail because I do not want to spoil my review, which will be coming when the game releases, but I am very stoked about the overall gameplay.
This year, SCE Studios San Diego has almost completely nailed the game of baseball. However, I do say that with an asterisk since I have only played until the fourth inning (that is when the demo shuts off).
Either way, some of the little details you start to notice are mind boggling, almost to the point of making you wonder if the guys at SCE San Diego ever went home during the past year.
Let me just stick with a very basic part of baseball, the pitcher/catcher interaction. Watching the catcher give you a sign and set up for the pitch is just beautiful. It is a harmonious movement that makes you feel like you are a part of something real.
That is realism folks.
MLB '09: The Show looks like a must have for 2009.
The ball is no longer just a white blob moving quickly through the baseball diamond; now you can now make out the seams on the ball as it rolls and flies about.
Fielding is wonderful. It feels much crisper, and the new tag animations are a huge step up from '08. As a whole, the fielding just feels so much better than last year -- it is really night and day.
Hitting also feels better. Although not much has been said about hitting improvements, I think something has changed when it comes to the timing of the pitch/bat/swinging area of the game. Yet, it is something that is subtle and hard for me to pick out at this point. My working theory is that players might be swinging faster, as it seems like I have just a split second more time to decide whether or not to swing and still be successful. Then again, maybe the game is coming to me?
Without being able to see the effects of fatigue all that well, the jury is still out on pitching. Still, from what we get in the demo, it appears that you will definitely have to be on your game because the meter is definitely tougher.
When I play this demo, the big thing that jumps out at me is that SCE is "there" -- at least from a gameplay perspective. They seem to have the next-gen sports game we have been waiting for, and now it is only a few weeks away from release. But do not get me wrong, there are still reasons to hold back our enthusiasm -- you never know what crazy things could go wrong with a release, as many of us already know.
But at this stage, MLB 09: The Show may end up being similar to the 1927 Yankees. In other words, the game will obviously succeed, but how many records will be broken along the way?