TORONTO — From Babe Ruth’s debut as a pitcher to Jose Bautista’s bat-flip homer, “MLB The Show 19” allows you to relive history.
The 2019 edition of PlayStation’s baseball franchise, out Tuesday, is touting its new “Moments” mode as a way to dip into notable memories from baseball’s past — and present — for a quick video-game fix.
“We’re able basically to recreate almost any moment that happened in the past and put it in the game,” said Ramone Russell, community manager and game designer for the Sony San Diego studio title.
“What we’re asking … is, ‘Can you do the same thing that he did?'” Russell added.
“Moments” can range from one at-bat, or an inning, to a series. The mode also challenges the gamer to rewrite history and avoid what happened in real life.
Most other major sports games already offer a chance to relive memorable moments. But baseball’s rich history — and the one-versus-one challenges the game offers — fit such a mode perfectly.
The feature also allows game designers a chance to show off their growing list of legends available to play. They added 30 this year, including Willie Mays, Rickey Henderson, Kerry Wood and Don Mattingly, upping the total to more than 150.
And they can create fantasy moments, like what might happen if Ruth pitched against today’s pitchers?
New “Moments” can be added to “MLB The Show” by game designers as the season progresses.
“Let’s say Opening Day, Kevin Pillar of the Blue Jays hits for the cycle. Within an hour, we can recreate that moment — his team, the stadium, who he’s playing against — we can put it in the game and have you play it,” Russell said.
Game designers also learned in their research that baseball is regional and that fans tend to tune out after the all-star break if their team is out of contention.
So they came up with another new mode called “March to October,” which allows gamers to play their team’s key moments throughout the season.
“We found that most people can’t play a whole season of baseball — it takes too long,” said Russell. “With ‘March to October’ you can get to the playoffs in a handful of sittings.”
Your performance in those key moments determines what happens to your team in the games you don’t play. The run to the post-season could take just 12 to 18 hours. All gamers have to do is play selected moments, with the game taking care of everything else.
“Not everybody has as much time to play video games as they used because we’re all so busy,” Russell says.
Early testing suggests that the “March to October” mode is going to be very popular, he adds.
“MLB The Show” is beautiful to watch and the baseball franchise’s graphics are as impressive as ever.
Designers also worked on improving the mechanics of player catches, with better fielders getting a wider variety of moves. Russell says this year’s version of the game is also “more accessible” when it comes to hitting.
A native of Alabama, the 38-year-old Russell maintains baseball neutrality when it comes to his support of the athletes.
“I have too many relationships with players,” he explained. “I just love the game.”
But he hears it from the ones who believe their in-game player rating doesn’t do them justice.
The game’s cover athlete is former NL MVP Bryce Harper, who signed a US$330 million, 13-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies earlier this month.
When he was announced as a cover athlete, he was a free agent and so was shown wearing an anonymous hoodie in mock-ups. But the signing came in time to have him in a Phillies uniform.
“It all worked out, so it was wonderful,” said Russell.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press