What's the Best Console Baseball Game?
You know what, reader? You're right; the choice used to be simple, and we're here to tell you that it still is -- sort of. Things have changed quite a bit. EA is no longer in the MLB baseball game, old-fashioned sprites have turned into fully motion-captured stars, and online play is all the rage.
One important thing you didn't tell us, though, is what system you're using. To make this easier, we'll assume that you have all the latest consoles, and you can figure things out from there. To put it simply, the best baseball video game of 2010 is 'The Show' from Sony. Of course, that means you need a Sony console (PS3, PS2 or PSP) to play it, but bear with us before you run out and buy a new system, because 2K's 'MLB 2K10' is nothing to sneeze at.
The main reason we like 'The Show' is that it just feels right; play is responsive, animations are realistic, ball physics are dynamic, and the tension created during games is spot-on. On the other hand, 'MLB 2K10' plays well, but there are moments when we feel like things are sorting themselves out without player input.
'The Show' features one of our favorite game modes: Road to the Show. This RPG-like mode has players take the role of a position player starting as a scrub and working his way to the big leagues, complete with clubhouse interactions, contract negotiations, and on-field goals. While 2K countered this year with a My Player mode, Road to the Show is surprisingly deep, and we found it to be a serious time suck (in a good way).
Don't fret, though; '2K10' has its share of innovative features. 'MLB 2K10' focuses more on the pitcher-batter match-up and the action therein. Most notably, the '2K10' Total Hitting Control feature lets you 'swing' with your controller's right stick (or Wiimote) to direct your swings. It takes some practice, but successful results are pretty satisfying. 'The Show' uses a more cerebral batting interface, which involves guessing the pitch's location and type -- and we baseball nerds love that.
Both games are well suited for online play, although we tend to prefer Xbox Live for its always-on voice chat and persistent friends lists. (The PlayStation Network forces you to re-add friends in-game, a mind-boggling decision on Sony's part.) However, both games do surprisingly well in regards to online play -- when the networks are running efficiently, anyway. Both feature online tournament play, which allows you to create a league and track official results. Bear in mind that lag will occasionally rear its head, however, and just a little big of lag can ruin your pitch location or swing timing.
This all said, as promised, we'll make this simple. If you have a Sony console, pick up 'The Show.' Otherwise, '2K10' will do you just fine, as it's available for the Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo DS, PS3, PS2, PSP, and PC.