Baseball is back! Yeah, the 2018 season is underway, but why watch baseball when you can play it – as long as you have a PlayStation 4…

MLB The Show 2018
Developed by SIE San Diego Studio 
Published by Sony Interactive Entertainment 
Available for PlayStation 4 

I don’t often get sucked in to games that have updates or new editions every year, which is a staple of sports video games and certain first-person shooters. But MLB The Show is the exception to the rule. Since it debuted in front of the 2006 season, though, I’ve bought the new edition almost every year. This year was never going to be any different, but putting the 2017 American League Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge on the cover made sure that I picked up the game as soon as possible.

Sure, I didn’t buy a physical copy, I just downloaded it from the PlayStation Store, but at least Judge will be staring me down in the game’s icon whenever I want to play. And I have been playing it often since it downloaded onto my PS4 last week, because the game carries over the same high quality presentation that quickly became its trademark.

The first time I play, I always watch the intro video , which plays whenever you boot up the game. You can usually skip it, but I encourage everyone to check this one out, because it really is amazing. The video features little leaguers from all over the country playing baseball, with voiceovers from kids reading quotes about baseball from George Will, Pete Hamill and Rogers Hornsby. Gave me chills as I went through it. Sony really knows what it’s doing with these things. The intro video has been uploaded to YouTube, so everyone can watch.

The visual presentation of the game got an upgrade this time around, with new menu designs and a new game announcer in former Major Leaguer Mark DeRosa. DeRosa replaces Harold Reynolds and joins Matt Vasgersian and Dan Plesac in the booth calling all the action. The announcing still feels repetitive and suffers the same issues that most games with announcing have – they have a set script available. Yes, it’s expansive and yes they’re able to convey a lot of information, but over the course of the season – or even if you play a couple of games back-to-back – the announcing can get a bit grating. I have no problems turning the sound off on the TV and listening to music or a podcast when I play. It doesn’t take anything away from the game at all.

As far as the gameplay goes, if you’ve played a recent version of MLB The Show, you know what you’re getting here. That’s not a bad thing, because there’s almost nothing I would change about the way the game plays. Hitting, pitching and fielding are all intuitive, smooth and you have plenty of ways to play that will let you find the best way to throw a perfect game or smack a few balls out of the park.

MLB The Show is always going to deliver the goods, and this year is no different. It’s a high-quality game with enough options to keep you playing until next year’s version comes along. And let’s be honest, I’m going to buy that one, too.