Next generation past time.
I do not like the sport of baseball. Nothing puts me to sleep quicker than watching a game on television, yet I have always loved playing them in video game form. Sony’s baseball series has been the clear leader for years now, and with 2K out of the picture, well it is the only game in town. That being said, The Show isn’t letting up. For its PlayStation 4 debut, the team at SCEA San Diego have opted to make a feature-complete version of the game, complete with a new-gen set of visuals. The end result is one of the most incredible looking, and playing, sports games I have ever experienced.
I am not going to go into massive detail about all the features and modes. All of the same stuff from the PS3 version is intact, and if you want to read all about them, check out our resident baseball expert’s lengthy review of The Show on PS3 and Vita right here.
Platforms: PS4, PS3, Vita
Multiplayer: Online Season and versus
Demo Available: N/A
Length: Extremely Variable
Instead I am going to focus on what made this game shine for me, as a non-baseball fan. For starters there is just so much to do within The Show. I love playing out seasons in sports games. The Show offers up both a single season and franchise mode with adjustable amounts of games. So for those like me who simply couldn’t handle 162 games, I was able to make it a more manageable number.
I am in the game!
I was also able to create myself (with padded stats of course) and throw myself into the roster before beginning the season. I struggled my first five games, but went on to become the leader in home runs by the end.
Roster management and character creation is always something I love to tinker with in sports games, and The Show delivers on both fronts. The bevy of options available for crafting new players is absolutely ridiculous, though they still don’t have an audio cue for my last name.
Another feature I really love about The Show is that it is designed to be enjoyed by casual and hardcore fans alike. The intricacies of the analog batting and pitching are beyond what I am willing to invest, so beginner mode helps with that by instead relying on timing-based motions for batting, and one button pitching. Baserunning and fielding can also be automated or assisted, which makes for a better experience for novice players. The team has also added in a new game style called Quick Count, which randomly adds balls and strikes to each at bat, allowing players to get through games quicker.
Sure, not everyone will appreciate circumventing the experience, but being able to hammer out a game in less than 20 minutes can be the difference between playing and not for time-starved gamers. MLB 14: The Show is the kitchen sink of sports games when it comes to available options, creating an experience that is fun for everyone.
Of course, this being the first game in the series for PS4 the most notable improvement is going to come in the form of visual fidelity. This game is gorgeous. There is no other way to put it. Having played countless hours of Madden this year, I was in awe at the various animations for simple actions such as a routine ground ball. It rarely feels canned or predetermined. Dirt gathers on jerseys, players are crafted with so much personality and detail, and the stadiums are modeled down to the last detail. This game is stunning, and having a higher resolution and frame rate on PS4 only drives that point home even more.
There is so much detail in this game. The commentary is amazing. Hearing the announcers pinpoint performances throughout the game is seamless. The camera angles are broadcast quality, and the small touches really seal the deal. I know it is a cliché saying, but there were times I could have easily confused this with a real game on television, it looks that good.
Hurry up and wait!
This package does come with a few issues though. One of the biggest is just how large the game really is. For the disc version I was able to boot up shortly after inserting the disc, but from there I played the waiting game. The install is well over 40GB and getting all that data from the disc to the hard drive took around 30 minutes. In that time only two teams and stadiums and only the quick game mode were available, the rest I had to wait for.
Once installed the loading times are still not the best. Watching the progress bar make its way around the bases has become one of my least favorite activities in a game in a long time. There is a lot of waiting in The Show, so thankfully the wait is worth it.
The last quirk I have is with the online. Games can be laggy at times, and animations simply don’t happen. This is something that can be improved over time with patches and such, but right now it definitely has plenty of hindrances. This also crops up offline from time to time. Stuttering animations and general slowdown, just enough to notice, usually happen at least once per game. It isn’t game-breaking, but when everything else looks so good, it does stand out.
MLB 14: The Show is a fantastic first offering on a new platform. I am impressed that every single feature is included, and the visuals are truly stunning. This may be the only baseball game in town, but it’s also still the best. I really look forward to seeing what the team at SCEA San Diego can do with the franchise as the PS4 matures. Fans of baseball and even those only slightly curious have yet another great title for the new console.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.