mlb the show 18-chicago cubs-chicago white sox-review-2018

MLB The Show 18 Review: Cubs and White Sox intrigue in latest installment

in Around Chicago by

All rise. MLB The Show 18 is here.

It seems like premier sports video games are hard to come by these days. Most of the EA Sports games (Madden and NHL most notably) have turned into microtransaction monstrosities with little to no change year after year.

Typically EA can get away with it since they have owned the rights to the National Football League license since 2006 and no other companies can even make a football game with any NFL ties (Madden 2005 and NFL 2k5 remain the most liked NFL games). They are also the only developer that makes NHL games for consoles. This has led to many stale sports games that are beginning to see dips in reviews, active players, and sales.

On the other side of the spectrum MLB The Show has put itself not only at the top of the baseball video game world, but the entire sports genre of gaming as well. Xbox players are truly missing out on a gem with MLB the Show and it has become one of the best sports series of all-time when it comes to quality.

People love baseball for many different reasons. It’s a game of detail. Whether it’s the rotation on a pitch, launch angle of a home-run or fan and mascot interaction there is a lot of little details that baseball enthusiasts can’t get enough of. MLB The Show leans into that fervor brilliantly.

While playing The Show one can’t help but stop and take it all in. Every swing is analyzed. Exit velocity, pitch trax, mascots, individual stadium details. It’s all there. The Show has always had these awesome details. In the 2011 version, the St. Louis Cardinals traded Albert Pujols to the Chicago Cubs. In Pujols’ first game back to Busch Stadium the game took a moment and let The Machine raise his cap to the fans at the stadium.

Fast forward to 2018 and you have the dancing Cubs bullpen, the Judge’s chambers at Yankee stadium, and almost every minute detail of every major leaguer’s batting stance. It’s a site to behold.

Add in the fact that the graphics are stunningly beautiful and each ballpark comes to life like you are at every game. Gameplay is top notch and there are very rarely any plays where one feels cheated because of the controls.

Matt Vasgersian and Dan Plesac return to do the commentating and they are their usual solid selves. Vasgersian drops his trademark “Santa Maria!” call when a big home run takes place and Plesac likes to crack jokes and analyze the smaller details. Replacing Harold Reynolds is Mark DeRosa, who sometimes seems to be out of place but isn’t horrible. Overall the commentating is solid but one does run into the same few lines over and over especially when the same team is being played in a franchise mode.

There are a plethora of modes to choose from and it’s hard not to find something to like for even a casual baseball fan. While there are more in-depth modes like Franchise and Road to the Show, there are also quick mini modes one can utilize if they want to play something fast. Three-inning games and Home Run Derby are there to satisfy your quick fix.

There is also a challenge mode where you play a pre-determined matchup and the top 25 scores can earn real-life prizes. This week’s is Aaron Judge vs. Chris Sale and the top score wins an autographed Aaron Judge bat which is pretty neat.

And legendary players are also included.

Did you ever want to reenact the Babe Ruth’s called shot? Step right up. There’s a bunch of legends here ranging from absolute studs (Babe, Ted Williams and Nolan Ryan) to some more questionable selections (Benito Santiago, Roy Oswalt and Jack McDowell).

The best, though, is Fred McGriff. Because we all know Tom Emanski’s instructional video is the only reason he was ever successful in the big leagues.

With all that being said this is by far the best sports game on the market and the amount of content is perfect for casual and experienced players alike. Baseball fans will eat this up like it’s candy.

Final Verdict:

9 Tom Emanski videos out of 10

What to expect playing MLB The Show 18 as a Chicago baseball fan

It’s an interesting time for Chicago baseball fans. The Cubs are in the middle of a potential dynasty while the Chicago White Sox are in full-on rebuild mode. While it’s simple to say that MLB The Show 18 will be more fun for Cubs fans than White Sox fans, you might be surprised to find that the opposite is often true.

One thing fans always find fun is taking their team from the bottom and making them into a perennial contender. See Theo Epstein and the Cubs as an example.

Chicago fans have been doing this for years with the Bears and for awhile with the Cubs. If going into Franchise mode and rebuilding the entire organization from the minors all the way to the majors is your cup of tea, then the White Sox will be a great team to play with.

Of course, Cubs fans get to play as a top-five team that consistently will get to the playoffs and compete for a World Series.

Now people tend to try and find consistencies between the gaming world and real life. These are simulation sports games after all. You always see articles around the Super Bowl or playoff time with how “Madden predicts Super Bowl winner” or “MLB The Show predicts Kris Bryant will win MVP”.

As an experiment, I decided to run simulations of the 2018 MLB season for both the Cubs and White Sox. I made no roster moves or any changes whatsoever and let the computer handle everything. My results were very interesting. Some things were very realistic while others were completely off the wall.

2018 Chicago White Sox simulations on MLB The Show

Simulation Record and Standings Playoff Outcome Notable Trades and Happenings
1 62-100, Last in AL Central None Traded: Avisail Garcia, Jose Abreu, Welington Castillo, Nate Jones

Got: Josh Harrison

2 66-96, Last in AL Central None Traded: Avisail Garcia

Barons win Southern League Championship

3 69-93, 4th in AL Central None Traded: Carlos Rodon, Avisail Garcia, Yoan Moncada to the Mets for 3 prospects (What?!?!)

Got: Alcides Escobar

4 67-95, 4th in AL Central None Traded: James Shields, Jose Abreu, Avisail Garcia, Welington Castillo

Got: Josh Harrison

5 68-94, 4th in AL Central None Traded: Nate Jones, Avisail Garcia, Carlos Rodon, Tyler Saladino, Jose Abreu, Luis Avilan

Got: Adam Jones… but then traded him

2018 Chicago Cubs simulations on MLB The Show

Simulation Record and Standings Playoff Outcome Notable Trades and Happenings
1 95-67, 2nd in NL Central (1 game) Wild Card Loss Traded: Steve Cishek, Jose Quintana, Kyle Hendricks

Got: Zach Britton in the Q deal

2 95-67, 1st in NL Central Won World Series Traded: Jose Quintana to Royals

Got: Jorge Soler and Mike Moustakas

3 102-60, 1st in NL Central Won World Series Traded: Albert Almora

Got: Kevin Keirmaier

4 88-74, 3rd in NL Central Wild Card, Lose in NLDS Traded: Ben Zobrist, Tommy La Stella, Jose Quintana, Kyle Hendricks

Got: Marcus Stroman and Devon Travis for Q and 3 prospects for Hendricks

5 88-74, 3rd in NL Central None Traded: Ben Zobrist, Victor Caratini, Brandon Morrow, Pedro Strop, Jose Quintana, Kyle Hendricks

Got: Cam Bedrosian and Alex Meyer in Morrow deal, Zach Britton and Kevin Gausman in Q deal, 3 prospects for Hendricks

The common theme for the White Sox in 2018 was lots of losing and trades. Some of the trades were definitely understandable as Avisail Garcia has been on the trade block since last year. Jose Abreu has also been on the block but most think he’s sticking around to be the leader of a young, developing team.

The trade that seemed completely nuts was Yoan Moncada. No way the Sox make that deal.

In most of the simulations, Moncada and Giolito have decent seasons and develop pretty nicely. The rest of the roster is almost unnoticeable by year’s end.

As for the Cubs simulations… well, where to start? The Chicago Cubs can either be reserved with their players… or go batshit crazy.

The consistent part of the Cubs 2018 season according to simulations is that they at least make the playoffs (4 out of 5). So, in the game, they have a high chance of winning the World Series as long as they don’t trade half their starting rotation.

Again some trades made sense and some did not. No way Theo and co. trade Kyle Hendricks or Q (Especially after giving up Eloy for him). Trading Zobrist makes sense but the one deal that stood out was Albert Almora and a prospect for Kevin Keirmaier.

Luckily for all of us, these are just simulations on a game that thinks Javier Baez is a leadoff hitter and that Yoan Moncada should be traded.

Verdict:

Don’t drink and simulate but do go buy MLB The Show 18 if you have a PlayStation 4.

Darren is a passionate Chicago sports fan since birth who is dabbling in podcasting and journalism. He graduated from Carroll University in 2009 with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology. In addition to sports he also nerds out on a daily basis whether it's video games, Star Wars, Pokemon, or anything else you can think of. He enjoys spending time with his wife, family, and friends and hopes to have multiple dogs sometime soon.