The good parts (4 out of 5)
The realism of the baseball experience has shown positive evolution in every subsequent title of this popular and impressive franchise and they were consistent again in just tweaking a few things to enhance areas of the game play to improve aspects that definitely enhance the entertainment level and help to make this edition the best yet.
The bad parts (4 out of 5)
The AI fielders, usually the outfielders, will occasionally get a brain freeze and watch as you misplay a ball, instead of coming over to help. The AI fielders also double clutch the ball far to often in the animation scenes, which is probably just an issue of balance in the design, since the developers were trying to tweak the number of bobbles and fumbles in this edition to make it more like the real game.
The graphical story (3 out of 5)
The visual presentation of the PS3 console version of MLB 09: The Show is as strong as you remember, the new then and now reels of scenes at the start of the game have television style quality of visual presentation of the players and ball parks you know and love.
The variety and number of player animations have been upgraded for fielding animations for the 2009 season to include beautifully rendered rolling catches and sliding stops that look like they took they directly from television broadcasts.
The fans look good, the lighting effects change wonderfully from dawn to dusk as you play through a game and the player models look better than ever.
Sounds in the game (4 out of 5)
The audio play by play is still anchored by Vasgerian, Hudler, and Campbell, who all sound real and do a fantastic job entertaining you with their interesting and informative dialogue.
The sound effects of the ball off the bat, cheers, chants and boos of the crowd all sound like your there and help to put you in the moment, and in the game. Now you can even tweak the sound effects yourself, with custom music, chants, and taunts, that you add yourself.
Playability (5 out of 5)
MLB 09: The Show is excellent development-by-example for the other simulation developers trying to improve the experience of their games as Sony has successfully and consistently tweaked the virtual experience of MLB The Show for the better every year, so far. This year they have made it harder to pull off a check swing, which was an issue last year, added a “Guess the Pitch” feature which makes it significantly harder to pitch successfully, and have added the ability for you to tweak your defensive alignment on the fly. In addition, they have worked on refining the path-finding routes of your AI fielders to hit balls to take into account the real statistics of your fielders in determining the jumps they get on a hit ball. The last tweak they made to MLB 09 was to tweak the balance between the number of bobbles, fumbles and errors the players experience to be closer to their real statistics and the real baseball experience.
MLB 09 comes with a number of mode for your entertainment; The Road to the Show mode allows you to create a prospect and attempt to take him to the show, a Franchise mode that allows you to delve into many of the managerial aspects of big league baseball, and On line play that allows you to play with friends or foe in competitive on line games.
The bottom line (4 out of 5)
The Show has consistently been the best baseball simulation on the market since it made it to the big leagues, the experience has been enhanced and improved every year, and it just keeps getting better in MLB 09: The Show. All the significant and often simple tweaks they have made actually improve the experience and entertainment value of the last year’s game, and should have virtual baseball fanatics both thinking up new changes and dreaming of the ones Sony might make next year, which is another fun aspect to the design choices with this franchise.