MLB '06: The Show Review
The days when sports gamers had to accept stripped-down versions of sports games if they wanted to play while on the go just may be over. MLB 06: The Show is a complete full-featured baseball game packed into a portable package. Just about every feature and game mode that you find in console baseball games can be found crammed onto its little UMD disk. Franchise and career modes, online play, game play-by-play and color announcers, alternative play modes Ö itís all in here. MLB 06 is definitely a major league caliber game and should be a part of your portable lineup.
First the basics. Pitching begins with selecting the type of pitch to throw by pressing the corresponding button on your PSP. Next the nub is used to select the desired pitch location, which is made easier by a three-by-three grid that divides up the strike zone for you visually. The grid also displays the batterís hot and cold zones so that you know which parts of the plate to target and which to avoid. The nub itself can make things a little iffy when selecting the pitch location, though, as it really wants to bring the pitch location indicator back to center and youíll have to fight it a bit if you want to be precise. The last step is to use the gameís golf-swing style meter to throw the pitch. Pressing a button starts the meter and you need to press the button again when you reach the desired power level. This will start the meter moving in the other direction and youíll need to press the button again within a marked zone to make the pitch accurate. Itís a pretty good system for pitching and is easy to pick up and get used to.
Batting is an even simpler affair. At the lowest difficulty level itís just a matter of pressing a button when the ball crosses the plate. At higher difficulty levels more options become available. Youíre able to select between a normal and power swing, use the nub to direct the direction of your swing, and you can also try to guess pitch type and location. Guess the pitch and youíre rewarded with a solid hit, guess wrong and it will be harder for you to connect.
The base running controls are pretty easy to use as well. The left trigger will advance all runners and the right will send them back. You can also use the face buttons to give the advance or retreat to a single base runner. These buttons are intuitively mapped to the diamond, so for example the Triangle button will give the command to a man on second while the Square will do so for a man on third. On defense a circle on the ground tracks the ballís location with the size of the circle indicating the ballís height above the ground. You need to move a fielder to the center of the circle to make the catch, and by lining the fielder slightly behind the spot and pressing a base button in advance you can ďpreloadĒ the throw to get the ball into the infield quickly. Throwing to a base is just as easy as the base running with the face buttons again mapped to the individual bases.
MLB 06 plays closer to a baseball sim than an arcade game, with scores pretty closely corresponding to those that you see in the majors. Hits and batting averages seem to run a bit higher than normal for the players that you control yourself, with the numbers being closer to par for simulated games and opposing hitters.