The good, the bad and the result

In 2019, MLB The Show 19 was the best sports video game of the year.

This accolade doesn’t mean that it got the highest score in my reviews, it means that over its lifecycle it has brought the most fun to any other sporting title.

I scored it an 8.5 last year because it was a great game. However, my gripes were mostly about the developer’s reluctance to push the boundaries in certain areas that other sports franchises had ignored.

Luckily, Sony San Diego Studios filled most of the gaps and they may have produced the best version of the series’ history.


Face renderings are much sharper

At first I thought there was no visible difference between MLB The Show 19 and MLB The Show 20, but that’s not true.

You can clearly see the difference in many renderings. Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Atlanta Braves is one example.

Acuna wasn’t scanned for 19, but he and several other players saw that kind of improvement in their renders for MLB The Show 20.

Lighting and textures are more detailed

Each year there are slight improvements to the lighting and textures that only someone who has played each version of the game would notice.

Whether it’s dashboard updates with an accurate representation of the sun in daytime games, or light effects at night, SSDS gets so much done right.

Beautiful activities on the ground

There are thousands of new animations in the game, from Sony.

Obviously, I cannot claim to have seen them all. However, I can tell you that the flow of the game is smoother than ever in the field with more branching animations for most field situations.

Fielding is more difficult and layered

Fielding, and more specifically, pitching is more difficult in this year’s game. This is especially the case if you have used the metered throw. It seems that the meter is a little faster and it doesn’t forgive so much for missing the sweet spot.

I don’t mind as it teaches you to be focused and it makes throws after stopping a dive more difficult.

The stadiums get better every year

Operation Sports has spent much of the day posting separate details of the parks around the league that are in MLB The Show 20.

The video below shows gameplay in the majors’ newest professional baseball stadium, Globe Life Field:

Always a pleasure to put the bat on the ball

The absolute best part of MLB The Show gameplay is putting the virtual bat on the virtual ball. There is a beauty in this aspect of real sport and Sony has always captured this key element so well in its simulation.

Squaring one up and watching your frozen rope fly creates a dopamine effect that makes you want to do it over and over again.

The show still lets you play your way

As has been the case in previous releases, Sony never forces you to embrace their latest gameplay wrinkles. You can try them out, but if it’s not for you, you are free to find the proven settings that most likely caused you to fall in love with the series.

This should not be overlooked as many sports game franchises do not work this way.

Perfect-Perfect is good

I was a little worried about the Perfect-Perfect concept.

Essentially, this was incorporated into the game because many have complained about not being properly rewarded for ideal timing and PCI placement on the courts.

Perfect-Perfect is not mastered and it does not happen too often. I believe I’ve had it about three times in a number of games. When this happens you can see the difference and it offers the desired reward.

Real Team Building in Franchise Mode

The biggest addition to the game this year is the extended customization in franchise mode. Finally, users can rename and move not just one team, but all teams in the league.

Because you can also use the robust player creation tool, users can create an entirely different league with fictional players and teams.

Showdown is a solid and fun grind

If you’re a Diamond Dynasty fan, the new feature you’ll probably want to give some time to is Showdown. It works much like the Battle Royale mode, except that it is a single player and you can draft from additional turns after completing the challenges.

The showdown is not a traditional three, five, seven or nine round experience. It’s more like a single player challenge mode that lets you focus primarily on hits and points. It was a fun, slight start from a regular game.

Custom League Diamond Dynasty Lists Great

I don’t like all of the new features in Custom Leagues.

However, I love that you can start the journey with your DD Queues, and as you get more cards these updates are reflected in the Custom League. No sports video game has a better season concept associated with its collector’s mode.

From March to October, things are much better

In MLB The Show 19, from March through October, something was missing that allowed it to function as a microwave version of franchise mode. In MLB The Show 20, MTO is more fleshed out with increased GM elements like trading blocks and more. There are also more rewards throughout the season.

Finally, the critical situations selection engine has been redesigned to better select the parts of the experience that invite you to take action.

More uniforms and equipment

Some fans like the uniforms and equipment options in sports games. If that’s you, you’ll probably enjoy the selection in MLB The Show 20.

There will always be things missing on this front, but there is more than enough for you to diversify your Road to the Show or player in the game.

You can finally import lists from previous versions

If you are a roster maker, you may appreciate the ability to carry over a roster from a previous version of the game.

It hadn’t been on The Show until this year. It wasn’t discussed during the pre-release hype, but for a niche group, this might be their favorite addition as they won’t have to create the same roster every year.

Early server performance is solid

It’s early days, but the servers are holding up well on DD and online exhibition games. Certainly, the main tax on technology won’t happen until the game is available to everyone.

Think of this as a temporary boost.

The bad

Hair textures could still use a little work

For years, The Show has had unrealistic hair. This is still the case although there are a few guys whose hair appears to have been scanned with their face.

Quite honestly, it’s the black gamers whose hair looks the most realistic, and the white gamers and Hispanics have been given the old and outdated textures.

The commentary is almost completely unchanged

There doesn’t appear to have been any major commentary work for this year’s game. Mark DeRosa, Dan Plesac and Matt Vasgersian utter the same lines as last year.

It’s pretty annoying after a while.

Road to the Show hasn’t garnered enough attention

The only thing added to RTTS this year is dynamic challenges and an increased focus on relationship building. It sounds a lot grander than it actually is in the game. This experience is just as bland as it has been in recent years.

The saving grace of this feature is that the game plays out so well that the mode remains fun due to the concept and execution on the pitch.

No create-a-ballpark

The biggest omission from this year’s game is a stadium building feature. It seems a bit empty to allow players to rename a team without letting them build their own stadium.

I’ve been trying to add this feature for about seven years with no luck. Wait until next year.

No expansion in franchise mode

To a lesser extent, die-hard franchise mode fans are also likely missing out on the opportunity to build an expansion team. The NBA 2K series features the best franchise fashion concepts and the last two options.

Custom leagues are too simple

Fans wanted the franchise back online, instead they got an overly simplistic season mode with no GM elements, minor league handling, and motivation to play multiple seasons.

There’s a lot of league structure customization and the ability to use your Diamond Dynasty rosters, but it’s not an ideal online league experience.

The bottom line

With many of the small gaps filled from last year’s game, this is another championship-caliber season for Sony San Diego Studios. MLB The Show 20 does so well that it makes no sense to spend too much time complaining about its flaws. Improved gameplay, visuals, customization and depth; it’s hard to ask for much more.

  • Platform: Playstation 4
  • Developer: Sony Studios in San Diego
  • Editor: Sony
  • Posted: March 17, 2020
  • Price: $ 59.99 for the standard edition
  • Exam score: 9 out of 10

Sony has provided a revision code for this game.

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