MLB The Show 22
MLB The Show 22 Features Another Roster Expansion For Sony
Last year's MLB The Show 21 made gaming history by being one of the first first-party developers of one console to be released on a "rival" console. Despite being developed by Sony's in-house San Diego Studio, MLB The Show 21 was released on the Xbox at the behest of MLB themselves. This year's MLB The Show 22 breaks ground once again as being released on the Nintendo Switch for the first time. Like last year, it is also available Day One on Xbox Game Pass, which is what I'll be covering today.
MLB The Show 22's release on the Nintendo Switch may seem random to some, but it was the perfect opportunity for MLB. Following the absolute train wreck that was R.B.I Baseball 21. Developed in-house by the MLB themselves, it was an earnest effort that would have been better spent on a port of The Show. This was exactly what the MLB did this year, canceling the RBI Baseball series as a result. Looking at this from a business perspective, this was a smart choice. Why spend more money developing a shoddy baseball game when there's one decent series that's ripe for porting? If only PC players had the same love...
Shohei Ohtani Is The Show's Best Cover Pick
Last year's The Show 21 cover star Fernando Tatis Jr was no doubt a "power move" by San Diego Studios. For a game set to make history as well as debut on the next-gen consoles, why wouldn't a team based in San Diego go with their hometown darling? This year, Los Angles Angels' Shohei Ohtani may be an even better pick as it acknowledges baseball's two biggest fanbases. Japan has been one of the biggest supporters of baseball with its own league and star players. Ohtani is arguably one of NPB's biggest success stories, having stand-out seasons in Japan before playing for the MLB.
Ohtani is one of the rare "two-way players" currently playing in the MLB as well as the history of MLB in general. Very few have been able to capture the success of being a pitcher and a position hitter as Ohtani in the league. His talents have been recognized as something of a prodigy in the past years, setting records for both throwing and hitting the ball. It was only a matter of time before he became a cover star and The Show 22 does its best to capture both American and Japanese fans. The entire intro is spoken from his perspective in Japanese, the special editions are in "anime" style, and the presentation matches his team's colors. San Diego Studios has always excelled in designing its games and The Show 22 is no exception.
There's A Lack Of Content Depending On Which Version You Play
Aside from roster updates, minor player model upgrades, and changes according to the upcoming MLB season, there isn't much added to MLB The Show 22. I know I praised San Diego Studios for their choice of cover athlete, but the game itself is more or less the same as last year's. The pitching mechanics are similar as well as the battling mechanics. It's a yearly sports title so I don't expect the devs to re-invent the wheel, but it's amazing how much remains the same.
Let's start with the easiest source of changes, the roster. There's a "new" team added in The Show 22 that I didn't even catch because of my lack of knowledge. Last season was the final season for the Cleveland Indians, reviving themselves under the Cleveland Guardians. Not an entirely new team, just a name change. Depending on the version there are actual limitations of the game itself as there is a lack of a Stadium Creator mode in the previous-gen and Switch versions.
The Technical Fouls Don't Stop Here
Comparing the screenshots to the previous game, a lot of assets wound up reused, from the player animations to the ballparks themselves. Even navigation through the menus is similar in structure, which isn't terrible. Again, as mentioned many times, SDS took the safe approach in their latest addition. Most of what's "new" was spent on Ohtani and he's great. I like the guy. But there are many other flags that point at MLB The Show 22 just being "this year's Baseball title."
There is no trace of MLB The Show 21 at all on Xbox Game Pass whatsoever. The moment The Show 22 was released, an announcement was made that the previous title was leaving Game Pass. The only reason why this is a thing is that MLB wants its fans to play the latest game. If no one is playing a game they co-signed themselves, they don't make revenue. Even the game's "Retro Mode" that I spoke positively about last year is the exact same. Ken Griffey Jr provides the same introduction as he did in 21 and I'm sure it'll be the same in 23.
A Sony Developed Title Is Now Nintendo's Only MLB Game
As mentioned earlier, MLB's attempt at developing their own Baseball title on the Switch was a valiant effort. It was an absolute dumpster fire which lead to the organization making a smart business decision. If you can't compete, buy the rights to a Nintendo port, and that's what MLB did. This makes MLB The Show 22 the first post-SNES Sony title to publish on a Nintendo console, at least to my knowledge. Much like the Xbox versions, these were published at the behest of MLB and not Sony themselves.
Also on par for the course of most sports titles on the Switch, like NBA 2K22, a hefty download is required to play. About 17 GBs worth of space is needed, according to the game's packaging. It's amazing the size of a game, while small compared to other consoles, is massive compared to fellow Switch titles. Condensing such a large game into a small experience is never an easy feat and San Diego Studio manages to do a fine job.
Possibly The Best Baseball Experience On The Go
It's amazing how very little was compromised in the end result as most of its features transitioned well on the Nintendo Switch. If played under "Television" settings, the televised experience is almost 1:1 on the portable console. In docked mode, the framerate is equivalent to other platforms. Sacrifices are made in the graphics department, but it doesn't compromise where it matters most, in its gameplay. Overall if there was a choice to play baseball on the go, MLB The Show 22 is a fan's best bet. While the lack of content is glaringly obvious due to the cut stadiums, everything else remains intact. The Show 22 was able to impress me more on the Switch than the Series X.
MLB The Show 22 Needs A Relief Pitcher
Is MLB The Show 22 a bad game? No, it's not for it's the same as last year's, which also wasn't a bad title. Again when The Show 23 comes around I'll say similar. It's a safe title from San Diego Studios that's made a bit more accessible by increasing the number of available consoles. MLB The Show 22 is no longer Sony's darling, it's now the MLB's. Whether that's for better or worse, time will tell in future installments.
MLB The Show is available on the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch.