Review: MLB 14: The Show

MLB StoryMLB: The Show has been the standalone baseball series in the last few years. It’s obviously never taken off in Australia but has always been held in high regard overseas. The game is developed by SCE San Diego who are primarily known for their work on sporting titles.

MLB Presentation
On the PS3, MLB 14 isn’t a huge step up from last year’s iteration. The visuals of the players are pushing the limits of the PlayStation 3, however the crowds still look significantly worse than in other sports games. Animations are as great as ever and the lighting makes the stadiums look realistic and true to their real-life counterparts.

The Vita version holds up surprisingly well. Players are still recognisable and stadiums still look brilliant. There are a few oddities here and there, but SCE San Diego should be commended for their ability to keep the experience consistent.

On the PS4, the game really shines. The player models are much more detailed and the stadiums are even more true-to-life. Lighting changes based on weather and time of day and the crowd looks more lively than ever. A bunch of new camera techniques have been introduced to really emphasise the enhanced visuals. Unfortunately, commentary hasn’t seen a huge overhaul and is still quite repetitive on all consoles.

Ultimately, it’s a nice graphical overhaul but still a transitional one.

MLB Gameplay
Two of the most noticeable additions to The Show this season are Player Lock and Quick Counts. It’s not hyperbole to trumpet Player Lock as a visionary new way to experience a sports game; the ability to step into the cleats of individual players at any point in any game in every standard mode introduces a staggering amount of possibilities. Feel like being your franchise’s star slugger for a week? Go for it–then switch over to your closer for the final three outs in every key game. Want to play Opening Day as the entire team then see what it’s like to be your second baseman for the next month? Simple. Player Lock powers a fundamental, spectacular new way to play The Show.

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The first thing that I’ll say about MLB: The Show 14 is that it’s totally worth owning at least the Vita version and one of console versions. The game syncs your data better than any other sports game so it’s an absolute treat for baseball fans.

So while Player Lock lets you take control over individual players, Quick Counts makes for quicker matches. You can now play a full nine-inning game in around thirty minutes. Previously it would take nearly an hour to get through a full game. I found that it didn’t lower the realism of the game in any way, it simply took away a lot of the unnecessary filler content and made for a much more tense match-up.

Road to the Show has seen a few new additions. Rookie Showcase lets you alter your position in the draft process and the attributes system has been rebuilt to eliminate the multi-tiered rankings that have confused gamers in previous years. It’s still a great mode with a lot of depth however it’s now less confusing in the way that it presents information. The menu is still quite boring to get around but I’d expect that’ll be the next thing to be revamped.

The biggest let down of the game is its online system. The developers stated that it was built from the ground up to fix connection problems that the series has been criticised for. Unfortunately, lag is still a huge issue and makes the game almost unplayable online. This is obviously a huge issue for a game that is based solely around perfect timing. I admire the developers for being so ambitious in the Online Franchise mode however the online infrastructure means that it just doesn’t work to its full potential.

The overall gameplay is generally the same which is a good thing. MLB: The Show has always been regarded as the most realistic baseball game so we’re glad that not much has been changed with the fundamentals. Ultimately it’s a better experience than in years passed and definitely a solid one.