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4. Catch as catch can
If you played as a catcher in Road to the Show last year, you realized quickly that there simply wasn't much to do behind the plate. "You were pretty much limited to fielding bunts and pop ups," Cramm says. But with Twins catcher Joe Mauer signed to appear on the game's cover this year, the producers wanted to add something special to the position. "We added a mode where the catcher in Road to the Show now has the ability to call the pitches. Now you're the field general; now you can select the pitch you want and the location. And while the pitcher will throw the pitch you want, he might not necessarily always hit your spot. The pitcher also might shake you off and ask for a different pitch, but it's still up to you, so if you ask for a fastball and he shakes you off, you can ask for another fastball and he won't sit there and continue to shake you off. This is just something to give the user who wants to be a catcher more of a tie-in to the game. Now you're more involved in what a catcher actually does in a game rather than just skipping ahead to the next bunt or popup."
'MLB 10: The Show'
Get an exclusive look at the first screenshots from Sony's upcoming "MLB 10: The Show." First look gallery »
And while there are plans to also include blocking balls in the dirt in this mode, Cramm admits there might not be enough time to make it in this year's game. "We have plans for a graphic that shows up and says the ball is going in the dirt and it's your responsibility to move the catcher in the right direction in order to block the pitch as opposed to being a wild pitch or a passed ball. This is something that's on the bubble right now, but if it doesn't get in, you'll see it next year."
5. Real-time presentation
"MLB 10" will default with the same presentation gamers are used to, with all the classic cut scenes that help you follow the action. But the team at Sony is also laying a foundation for what they believe is the future of sports gaming, and that's something they call Real-Time Presentation (RTP). With RTP, at the end of each play, instead of switching to a cut scene the camera never leaves the field as the players get back into position, move around in the dugouts and in the bullpen, all in real time. "It sounds generic, but when you watch everything play out, you feel like you're never leaving the action," Gill explains. "The really cool thing about that is, I feel like I'm watching a real live telecast and the players are all behaving how they're supposed to be behaving. It took a lot of animations and some additional logic, but this is something we always wanted to offer instead of the way it is now, where we're cutting out of reality and sending you into presentation land. We're still going to default to what we have, as we have upwards of 7,000 animations in all of these cut scenes. But the real-time aspect gives you an opportunity to watch the game in a different environment; from the way the camera focuses on the shortstop who just made a great diving catch to the way the next batter is walking up to the plate to the way the guy who just got out storms back to the dugout, it's all playing out in front of you like you're in real time."
6. The Little Things
When Pablo Sandoval smacks a dinger into McCovey Cove outside AT&T Park, not only will the Giants' pitching staff breathe a sigh of relief that their lineup is actually providing run support, but in "MLB 10," gamers will recognize the working splash counter inside the stadium.
But that's not the only visual treat that's been added to the game this year. You'll see things like cloud shadows moving across the field, daylight transitional lighting, dugouts and bullpens populated in real time (not just in cut scenes), and even playoff noisemakers and towels in the crowd. Gamers can expect more animations of fans reaching over the rails, foul balls that will ricochet off both catchers and umpires, working analog and digital clocks inside stadiums and fans from the visiting team populating stadiums, like when the Cubs play in Arizona and the Chicago faithful come out in full force wearing their team colors.
Other improvements include the ability to create your own highlight reels using up to ten different replays from the game (including the ability to adjust the start and end point, and even add in three different camera cuts at key points in the play). There are also eleven new stadiums in the game, including five minor league stadiums and six classic fields including Forbes Field, Crosley Field, the Polo Grounds, Shibe Park, Sportsman's Park and Griffith Stadium (and the ability to choose a classic stadium as your home field during Franchise).
And speaking of Franchise, there will be the ability to finally play Franchise mode with up to 30 players. "We have a lot of fans who want to control every team, every lineup, every injury they actually want to go in and manually injure a player just so their franchise at home can have the exact rosters of real life," says senior designer Kolbe Launchbaugh. "The time they spend on these rosters and inside all of these various modes really blows my mind, and it's something we all take great pride in as we're working on the game."