On Tuesday, MLB The Show 17 released for PlayStation 4. This is the only simulation baseball series available for the current generation of consoles, but that doesn't mean Sony San Diego Studios is relaxing in its efforts to produce the best possible game.
There's a handful of new and major features introduced in this year's game. Here's a buy-or-skip evaluation of MLB The Show 17.
MLB The Show 17 review: Improved graphics
When compared to games like NBA 2K and EA Sports UFC, the graphics for the MLB The Show series have been second tier.
This was clearly a focus of the developer team at San Diego Studios. Almost everything in MLB the Show 17 is brighter and more layered. The ballparks look great and almost every notable detail has been captured. Even the grass and dirt are rendered with eye-popping authenticity.
The player models are improved, but this is still game's biggest area of opportunity as it pertains to visuals. Some of the computer-generated players still don't look real.
Still, there's far more here to love than to find issue with.
MLB The Show 17 review: New franchise mode features
Two new features were added to franchise mode, but the most important of the two is the introduction of Critical Situations, which simulates the regular parts of the game and puts you in charge for the most important moments.
CS was designed to help gamers power through more seasons in franchise mode. It's a lot like Play the Moments in Madden 17; but even better. You have control over the scenarios, there's more variety and the situational nature of baseball makes the concept all the more appropriate.
When the CS option is on, some games will be simulated completely while others will be simulated up to a critical point. If there's a late-inning save opportunity, you'll be prompted to jump in and finish off the opposing team. You might also be tasked to get a big hit with two outs and runners in scoring position.
There are also individual CS for milestones. If a player is going for a no-hitter, you may be thrust into action to finish the gem, or if a batter already has two home runs, you could get the opportunity to hit his third. Many of the individual CS put you in a player-lock mode, which adds some variety to the experience.
The other new addition to franchise mode is Player Perks. These work like NBA 2K badges. It's a system that awards players specialized abilities.
For example, players who excel at hitting with two strikes may have the Unfazed perk, which means he excels with his back against the wall during at-bats.
There are tons of perks and each one is dynamic. Players can gain and lose them over the course of their careers. It adds a great deal to the team-building component in franchise mode.
MLB The Show 17 review: 30 new legends in Diamond Dynasty
There aren't any new modes in Diamond Dynasty this year. Instead, Sony opted for more content, which was a smart approach.
There are more missions with some pretty nice specific rewards for completion. The biggest piece of new content is the 30 new legends.
Obviously, the cover guy Ken Griffey Jr. is the highlight of these new additions. The renders for the new legends are hit and miss, but it's good that Sony allows these players to be used in franchise mode as well.
Disclosure: Brian Mazique was provided with a review copy of MLB The Show 2017.
MLB The Show 17 review: Retro mode
Nostalgia can be fun, but this mode just doesn't offer much in the way of replay value. Retro Mode features the same high-quality graphics from the traditional modes, but you control all of the action with the X-button and the analog stick.
You use the X-button to pitch and to swing the bat. You can move your batter in the box and your pitcher on the mound, but there are no specific pitches to throw.
Any movement is generated by moving the analog stick left, right, up or down.
It's a novel idea, but the charm wore off quickly. It doesn't detract from the game, but it's not much of an addition.
MLB The Show 17 review: Pave your path in Road to the Show
The Road to the Show mode needed a bit of personality. However, instead of going with a full storyline like NBA 2K's MyCareer, Sony opted for a documentary style instead. The results are mostly good, but there are a few minor hiccups.
You begin by creating your player as you have in all previous versions, but this year, there's a narrator that becomes the voice of your journey to The Show.
There aren't as many cutscenes and drama as you'll see in MyCareer, which can be both good and bad. On the positive side, it's refreshing to not be held hostage by the story the way we were with NBA 2K16's Livin' Da Dream. On the negative side, the lack of off-the-field dialog makes the journey a little dry at times.
Conceptually, the documentary approach will be a good thing for RTTS, but it needs more layers.
MLB The Show 17 review: New animations
Thankfully, there are new fielding animations which clean up the most annoying previous issues in previous versions of The Show. It used to take fielders too long to deliver throws to first base on ground balls, but that doesn't happen anymore.
Aside from polishing up the already strong gameplay, the new animations make the game look even better.
MLB The Show 17 review: The final call
This is yet another strong release in The Show series that is a must for fans of the franchise, gaming, and the sport.
More sports gaming news and updates
Are you a sports gamer? Check out more content from Mic, including tips for leveling up your NBA 2K17 MyPlayer, playing quarterback in Madden 17, the latest information on MLB The Show 17 and the classic Nintendo sports games we want to see on the Switch.