A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that MLB The Show 17 is a baseball simulation that's the latest installment in the popular sports franchise. There's no objectionable content, although there's heavy product promotion throughout. Stadium billboards frequently promote Topps, Bowman, PlayStation, and other products, and players are given the chance to improve player stats by acquiring sponsored gear or unlocking new baseball cards. These can be bought with tokens earned from play, but you can also buy points and extras with real cash to get a head start. Players can also be exposed to inappropriate content in online games, because these matches are unmoderated.
What's it about?
MLB THE SHOW 17 is the latest installment in the long-running baseball franchise, and with it comes a number of refinements and new features for this season's play, which is exclusive to the PS4 only. The popular Road to the Show career mode now has a "Pave Your Path" element, allowing you to define your interaction with coaches, managers, agents, and other people by making off-field decisions. These choices will shape and change your created player's career. The Franchise mode has also been revamped, letting players play as much or as little of a game as they want. They can leap to critical game situations, giving them a chance to be the hero in a bottom-of-the-ninth situation with the bases loaded. Players can also select a character to lock onto and only play their at-bats or fielding moments that involve that athlete. Or, if you'd rather, you can quickly manage a game, giving text directions to your players. The Diamond Dynasty mode has been expanded, too, with dynamic moments that will tap into events from this year's MLB season, as well as a new Program feature, which is a checklist of tasks that you can complete to unlock exclusive items and players for your squad. Finally, the game comes with a Retro mode, taking the gameplay back to a 1990s-style control and visual presentation, while also providing commentary from Ken Griffey Jr.
Is it any good?
This year's baseball title brings fans to the park with a nice list of features, but they basically hit a double instead of knocking it out of the park. For the first year that MLB The Show 17 exclusively lands only on the PS4, the game tries to give its players a lot more control and command over their gameplay experience. This includes possibly the most gameplay options for pitching, fielding, batting, and more, on top of its vast array of sliders. Diamond Dynasty has also been further expanded with the inclusion of Programs, which gives missions for players to complete, like beating all the ball clubs or collecting a set of cards for a star athlete. It gives you an additional motivation to win the games you play and adds another level of depth to the overall play experience, which keeps you coming back for another game.
Unfortunately, the depth isn't consistent, which is why some portions feel a bit uncharacteristically shallow. For example, the new Pave Your Path feature in Road to the Show gives a documentary-style presentation for your created athlete. While the narrator-driven dialogue choices give a degree of context to the choices that you make, it doesn't feel like it goes far enough. Sure, getting a heads up on a manager's opinion of a hitting streak or asking you to switch positions seems believable, but what about tension in the clubhouse? Off-field controversy? Responding to local and national press regarding your play? There's a lot of ground this mode could cover, but it's just scratching the surface with a promise of what could be coming. Similarly, while the inclusion of the retro mode seems like a nice touch, it's actually a bit dull and uninteresting compared to the rest of the actual gameplay, which is vastly more engaging. But if you overlook some of these issues, you've got a great baseball game on your hands at the start of this year's baseball season.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about consumerism. Do you feel pressured to spend your money on in-game packs and items to give you an advantage, or would you rather earn these items over playing multiple baseball games?
Talk about playing a virtual sports game on a television versus playing the real game on a baseball diamond. Is this game a substitute or merely an entertaining addendum for when you can't play outside? How can you best bridge the gap between real and simulated play?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.