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MLB The Show 17 takes the camera off the field; let's hope there's more to come

One of sports' most richly illustrated video games is overdue for a real story

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

MLB The Show is one of sports video gaming's most picturesque productions, but its broadcast presentation — that is, the impersonation of a televised game with announcers and graphics — has left much to be desired over the past five or so years. That may be changing in MLB The Show 17, coming in March from PlayStation 4.

Road to the Show is by far the most-played mode in the game, where the player inhabits the persona of a single player rising from a AA minor league team to the majors, with the goal of making the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Unlike FIFA, with "The Journey" this year, and NBA 2K for the past three, that narrative has been entirely dependent on what the user cooks up in his or her own mind. For all its quality, of the major licensed sports titles, none has less going on outside the lines than MLB The Show.

The video above, from PlayStation Experience yesterday, gives a little hope for those aching for more validation in their baseball players' careers. The brief clubhouse sequence indicates at least some attention to the off-the-field narrative that makes a sports career so richly fulfilling. I like what I saw there more than the retro mode. Don't get me wrong, that is appealing, and a perfect inclusion when the cover is going to newly minted Hall-of-Famer Ken Griffey, Jr., one of the all-time greatest video game athletes.

But The Show, two years ago, built in the means to sustain a player career across future editions of the game — only this franchise does that. And as the rich stories users have been quietly telling themselves since 2014 play out, it is nice to think that they might get a proper supporting cast, clubhouse intrigue, or something more affirming of their journey than a mute postgame interview as Mike Carlucci recites the transit options over the P.A.

MLB The Show 17 launches March 28 on PlayStation 4. It will be the first version, under this title, that does not publish on PlayStation 3.

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