MLB The Show 23 Review
Another year, another impressive baseball game is upon us. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised at this point, but Sony San Diego has again delivered us the best sports simulation on the market. Period. MLB The Show 23 is very much the sum of its parts. Building on an already outstanding foundation, this year’s entry makes several small steps (and one giant leap) forward. Culminating in an unrivaled experience, this is a baseball game all fans of the sport need to play.
The most significant addition to ‘The Show’ franchise in years has to be the brilliant Negro League storylines. The care put into each player’s history, whether you’re playing as Satchel Paige, Jackie Robinson, or anyone in between, is phenomenal. The charismatic Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, does an immaculate job of narrating each storyline. Kendrick seamlessly flows between the highs and lows of each player’s career. A fountain of knowledge, Kendrick’s fascinating retelling of the end of segregation in not only baseball, but America, will make you fall in love with the sport all over again.
“In a Game Predicated on Losing, He Couldn’t Lose. And He Didn’t”
What really drives home each Negro League storyline, though, is how accurate they are to the times. Fans wear appropriate clothing, parking lots are filled with classic automobiles, and stadiums are faithfully recreated. Even the commentary acknowledges specific situations you’re put in. It’s one of the most authentic representations of a particular period of time I’ve seen in a video game. My only gripe is that songs from the soundtrack will play over top of each moment. It creates a bit of a disconnect when, for example, you’re playing a game from 1945, yet you hear a modern-day hip-hop track in the background.
That supreme level of authenticity also stretches out to every other facet of MLB The Show 23. One of the most significant changes on the field is how the game sounds. When you line up your swing and blast a homerun, balls absolutely crack off the bat. Though, foul balls, bloopers, and line drives also provide a distinctive sound that mimics real life. And around the field, you’ll hear things not previously featured in MLB games. I love that we can hear teams celebrating in the dugout now.
Teams don’t just sound great, either. They look good too. Players, stadiums, and lighting constantly improve with each passing entry into the series. MLB The Show 23 is no different. Each park is gorgeous, showcasing exactly how fans experience going to a ball game in real life. Whether you’re in San Francisco in the middle of July, Toronto in April, or New York in October, each situation looks and feels as realistic as we’ve ever seen. The issue of lesser-known players not quite looking as good as the superstars is still apparent, but this is easily forgiven. Your favorite players will look spot-on to their real-life counterparts, and that’s what matters.
When you’re ready to tackle fan-favorite modes such as Diamond Dynasty and Franchise, rest assured that they’re every bit as fun to play as last year. Diamond Dynasty is still – clearly – the bread and butter of the series. It’s not hard to see why. Diamond Dynasty is the mode that makes use of MLB The Show 23’s paid currency, after all. Bear in mind you don’t need to spend money to be competitive. An ever-evolving list of challenges provides players with hefty sums of stubs used to buy newer, better players. And, as was the case last year, I haven’t once felt the need to open my wallet simply to progress.
Franchise mode continues fine-tuning itself, offering new ways to scout and sign players. It’d be nice to see storylines play out in Franchise as they do in real life, but if you’re looking to become the general manager of a team and take them to the World Series, this is the mode for you.
MLB The Show 23 isn’t a perfect game, however. Minor issues poke their heads out of the dirt, such as the commentators incorrectly explaining a situation. Sometimes they mistakenly call plays, but these instances are sporadic enough not to impact the overall experience. The player management screen has also taken a step backward. It’s a bit more challenging to navigate this time around, never quite feeling as intuitive as last year’s version. Nonetheless, the fact is, I’m nitpicking an otherwise excellent package.
MLB The Show 23 is the best-damned sports game money can buy. I think I say this every year, but the fact remains: Sony San Diego provides the most authentic representation of a sport with their MLB The Show series. Just as I did with The Show 22, I’ll be playing this year’s entry right up until next season. Take me out to the ballgame, and don’t ever bring me back.
***PS5 code provided by the publisher***
- Negro League storylines
- Excellent audio upgrades
- Gorgeous visuals
- Best baseball simulation out there
- Minor commentary issues
- Music isn’t always utilized properly
- Convoluted player management screens