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MLB: The Show 09 - True 1080p60 on PS3

MLB The Show ‘08 is revered amongst PlayStation 3 owners for not only providing the best baseball game on the console, but also for its excellent tech credentials, including support for native 1080p - a somewhat rare commodity on the current generation of gaming systems. The excellent news is that the brand new MLB The Show ‘09 improves upon the original in all respects.

First of all, MLB The Show ‘09 is running at 60 frames per second at native 720p with 2xMSAA, unchanged from its predecessor. The character modeling and the texture details seem more or less on the same level with ‘08 as well, but close-in some improvements are evident: check out these shots of the players.

MLB ‘08 (left) vs MLB ‘09 (right). The overall look is similar, but close-up details reveal that the new version has an edge in terms of detail especially evident on the helmet shots. Click on the thumbnails for full 720p resolution.

The most significant change however, is the crowd rendering, as it’s much more diverse now with visible improvements on the level of detail. This is a great addition to ‘09, since its predecessor already had some of the best crowd graphics in any sports title, but its one shortcoming was the person duplication which became painfully obvious at times.

More MLB ‘08 vs ‘09 comparison shots, this time of the crowd graphics. State-of-the-art in ‘08, but massively improved in the new version.

The one real irritation with the crowd graphics on MLB ‘08 concerned alpha-blending issues with the wire net in front of the audience. It wasn’t particularly well-done, but again, this has been hugely improved in the new ‘09 version. This sort of thing is difficult to show in an internet video, but we’ve had a stab any way via the wonder of YouTube HD. Check out the before (’08) and after (’09) comparison here.

The biggest improvement to the game comes from MLB 09’s native 1080p support. The game runs at an uncompromised 1920×1080 native resolution with no AA. In this respect, it’s identical to the ‘08 game, but the key difference is that unlike the last game, MLB ‘09 displays a full 60 frames per second on the 1080p setting vs the 30fps of its predecessor. The ‘08 1080p mode had few other losses on visual effects such as depth of field, which is retained and improved in both 720p and 1080p modes on the new game.

Depth of field effects didn’t make it into the 1080p mode of MLB ‘08. The good news is that the new game retains this feature at full HD in the new game. 720p shots are on top, 1080p on the bottom. Click through for the full resolution ’screens’.

Additionally, MLB 09’s 1080p has full screen blur effect as well. The blur is usually bad when it’s used as poor man’s AA solution, but in a sports game that runs at true 1080p, it actually gives you a wonderful feel of realism. It really adds to the atmosphere and the game looks much more life-like than it does on 720p.

Overall, MLB The Show ‘09 has seen a great improvement over last year, which is particularly impressive considering how the first game was already the best looking baseball title out there, maybe even the best looking sports release ever. With this new edition, the best just got even better.

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About the Author
Richard Leadbetter avatar

Richard Leadbetter

Technology Editor, Digital Foundry

Rich has been a games journalist since the days of 16-bit and specialises in technical analysis. He's commonly known around Eurogamer as the Blacksmith of the Future.