Sony's critically acclaimed baseball simulation helps kick off the 2011 season by taking a page from the competition and throwing gamers a big, bending curveball -- analog control. MLB 11: The Show lets players govern hitting, pitching, and fielding using the right analog stick on their controller. Hitting for solid contact and power requires gamers to pull back and push forward on the analog stick in a smooth motion, and players can tweak the stick left or right a bit to handle inside or outside pitches. The developers at SCE Sand Diego have done away with computer-generated errors, instead creating a system in which players fill a throw meter by holding the analog stick in one direction. The meter is divided into red, yellow, and green sections, with green being an ideal throw, yellow being generally acceptable, and red potentially resulting in an error. Pitching in The Show has always used a meter, but the windup and delivery are now controlled by the analog stick, and for the first time, gamers who try to quick pitch are vulnerable to being called for balks. And for all those players who can't handle a changeup, MLB 11 also includes the option to turn off the new analog controls.
Controls aren't the only things getting an overhaul for the 2011 season, as the popular RPG-like "Road to the Show" mode returns, with potential aces and five-tool studs beginning with more present skills, and now earning points for accomplishments such as inducing easy outs or working a good at-bat. An entirely new co-op mode lets up to four people team up in offline games or 2-on-2 online play, and the new "Online Challenge of the Week" is exactly as it sounds: Each week, gamers will be given the chance to compete in a particular challenge, with the winners awarded real-world prizes, and unsatisfied contestants allowed to retry the challenge for a small fee. A variety of small changes have been made to the presentation of games, including graphical adjustments to player animations, new stadium camera angles designed to mimic their real-life counterparts, and while commentators Matt Vasgersian and Dave Campbell return, tertiary broadcast member Rex Hudler has been replaced by former National League Rookie of the Year Eric Karros. MLB 11 also includes a new "Home Run Derby" mode for use with the PlayStation Move Motion Controller, support for stereoscopic 3D, and a one-button mode designed for disabled gamers.