MLB 11: The Show Home Run Derby Impressions – Crushing Homers with PlayStation Move

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Ahhh…can you smell that? Springtime is in the air, and you know what that means. Yessiree, baseball season is right around the corner!

It still seems WAY too early for baseball to me — hell, we just got hit by a little snow and sleet Sunday night in my neck of the woods — but it’s coming, and it’s coming fast. The real MLB regular season is still a few weeks away from Opening Day, but the first pitch in the video game season has been thrown out today with the launch of Sony’s MLB 11: The Show and its 2K Sports competitor.

Unfortunately, I probably won’t be able to get around to a full review of the PS3 version with so many other games already eating up my time right now. However, I did spend some quality time with this season’s new PlayStation Move Home Run Derby mode last night, and found it to be extremely well implemented.

But there is some bad news to report first. If you see the ‘PlayStation Move Compatible’ logo on the box cover and get all giddy at the prospect of playing through games, seasons and online match-ups wielding your futuristic snow cone motion controller like a baseball bat, I hate to crush your happy moment, but the Move controls only work in Home Run Derby mode. That’s it. In all other modes, you must use the standard button controls or the new ‘Pure Analog’ system.

It’s a shame, too, because baseball is a perfect vehicle for demonstrating the Move’s capabilities, and surely the game would reach an even broader audience if there was an option to play the entire game fielding, pitching and batting with motion controls. And the Home Run Derby mode proves as much.

Holding and swinging the bat with the Move controller is incredibly natural. All’s you do is stand and swing — no button presses required. Initially it is a bit strange because, with motion controls active, the game cuts out the player model for your batter and leaves just your bat hovering in the air over home plate. But as you get into batting position and begin to do a little bat waggle in anticipation of the incoming pitch, the feel of really swinging a baseball bat sets in.

The PlayStation Eye tracks the Move 1:1, without even a blip of lag or delay that I could detect. Every which way you move and swing the bat is accurately reflected in the game, and factors like timing, strength, and angle of attack in relation to the pitch placement determine the direction and distance of your hits and ultimately whether or not you take the batting practice pitcher yard.

Really, the only thing missing is force feedback. I wish there was some rumble going on so I could feel the crack of the bat through the controller. Without it you miss the tangible satisfaction of smacking a homer right on the sweet spot…or rattling off a blooper that sends those funny bone chills up your arms.

Of course, the other obvious disappointment is the lack of Move support for the rest of the game, as previously noted. Honestly, it seems like the developers tacked Move support on at the last minute just so they could advertise it on the box and sucker in gullible consumers thinking they can play the whole game with motion controls. To be fair, the back of the box does state the Move works in Home Run Derby mode — but it doesn’t say that’s the only mode it works in.

Either way, the implementation seems like it was thrown in as an afterthought, which is doubly disappointing because the system itself works so well. All’s we can do now is wait and hope for Sony to bang out a patch enabling full-scale Move controls, similarly to what was done with Heavy Rain. Home Run Derby is a fun side attraction showing that the Move works great as a simulated baseball bat, but there is potential for so much more.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!