Review Context: I am a huge baseball fan and go to a good amount of Phillies game each year. I have also played the show since the title first came to the PS3 in 2007. I enjoy playing baseball games a lot and have a lot of memories playing not just the show but other greats like MVP Baseball and all the way back to RBI Baseball.
Date of play through: May 6, 2014
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: SCE San Diego Studios
With 2K studios not renewing their MLB license, MLB 14 The Show is the only baseball simulation that we will get this year. Good thing it has been the best baseball simulation for the past couple of years, but with that being said there is still room for improvement.
The first thing I noticed about MLB 14 is how gorgeous the game is. The baseball parks look spot on (besides made up sponsors on the outfield wall) and whenever I play as the Phillies I always look to see if I can spot all the seats I have personally sat in. Another huge improvement is that the fans do not just look like pieces of cardboard that all randomly move in unison. Now all the do different actions including some holding signs supporting the home team. It’s a much welcomed change and hopefully all sports games take note on this. The players themselves also look amazing, but certain players do not look like themselves at all. Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles has his actual picture in the game but his player model looks absolutely nothing like him.
The gameplay with The Show has always been solid and never questioned, but there is and has always been a pretty steep learning curve for batting. The developers seemed to understand this and last year included a batting difficulty called Dynamic which starts you at Rookie and goes up or down based on your performance. The Dynamic hitting difficulty is back this year which is a big plus for anyone picking up The Show for the first time. There are also a lot of different hitting and pitching mechanics which is great simply because different people prefer to play different ways and the game seems very accommodating to all play styles. It is one of the very few sports titles that is willing to introduce new controls to a game but also include the old styles for players who preferred them. That is something I have and will always love about The Show.
Some of the new features the gameplay sees this year are the addition of Quick Counts and Player Lock. Quick counts is designed to speed up game time because honestly playing a full game off baseball does take some time. Quick counts generates a random pitch count ever at bat. For example, you can come up to bat with a pitch count of 2 balls and 1 strike. The counts are different for every batter. Player Lock lets you pick a player before the game and play the game as that player. So let’s say you were to play as the Pittsburgh Pirates and chose to play as just Andrew McCutchen. You would then take all of McCutchen’s at bats and also play all of the defensive plays that were coming his way in center field. They are new additions that I personally do not use a lot but I like the idea that they do speed up the game times and hope they return in next year’s title.
The commentary on The Show is up there with Fifa 14 for great commentaries. The commentary goes a long way to make you feel like you are actually watching a baseball game. It is actually one of the few sports games that I can stand leaving the commentary on.
Yes The Show does have its basic single player and Franchise modes but the highlight in single player is always The Road to the Show. This year’s RTTS starts off different then last years in the way that you actually play a prospect series to show off what you can bring to the game and try to raise your draft stock. But what if you have a bad series in the prospect series? If you do manage to have a bad 3 game series or you do not like the team that drafts you, you are given the option to go back to school for 1 to 4 years and replay the prospect series. Another huge improvement made to RTTS is the fact that the team does not dictate what you need to train your player in and the choice is all yours now. Your player’s career now feels like you are completely in charge of it.
MLB 14 has finally added online franchises and I was beyond excited about it. But sadly, The Show’s online franchises require all players and you cannot have any computer controlled teams in the franchise. It also requires a minimum of 6 players to start a franchise. This is a real let down when you have other sports titles such as Madden which let you have online franchises with any amount of teams and computer controlled teams. It really feels like The Show took a step back here and hopefully this will be fixed next year. But with that being said, The Show’s online franchises keep almost all of the offline franchise features which is a step in the right direction for all sports games.
Another misstep by The Show is just how bad the online multiplayer is. I have attempted quite a few online matches and I have not found a match where the server lag did not play a factor. In a baseball game where you have seconds to identify if the pitch is a ball or strike and where to swing at lag is a real issue. The lag does not play an issue there but also while fielding, there is nothing as maddening as go to field a fly ball and your player lagging and running in place.
The game is a great time and a must own for any baseball fan. If you are an online sports gaming fan though just be ready for a good amount of server lag. Hopefully it is something San Diego Studios can patch soon. The Show’s theme this year is that, “Baseball is better” and with MLB 14 the Show hitting the PS4 in stride they really back the claim up.
Similar Games Liked:
MVP Baseball 2004 (Xbox)
Similar Games Disliked:
MLB 2K13 (Xbox 360)