The Show debuts on the PS4 with flying colors, while adding new features to further fine-tune its gameplay.
Written by Derek Smith
MLB: The Show has been the dominant baseball simulation game in recent years. With the MLB 2K series being cancelled, The Show now remains unrivaled while also being a Sony exclusive. Does it still aim to impress or show a side of complacency in a world of recycled sports games? Thankfully, The Show debuts on the PS4 with flying colors, while adding new features to further fine-tune its gameplay.
Visually, MLB 14: The Show is crisply displayed at 1080p. I marveled at the detail in the game from the player models to the ballpark layout. On a humorous note, playing as the Boston Red Sox will give you a good look on the digitally enhanced faces, which include Duck Dynasty-esque beards. The crowd is noticeably more diverse, with the PS4 version allowing over a thousand different character models versus 42 on the PS3. The overall presentation of The Show adds to the player’s enjoyment as the game flexes the digital muscles of the PS4. This makes me look forward to the further improvements we will have in future installments.
Gameplay wise, everything holds tried and true. Nailing the mechanics of the game of baseball with consistency, while allowing customization. As a life-long baseball fan, I was pleased to see that players on the field continued to translate well from our real-life players we cheer for today. The movement of the players remains fluid while properly reacting to the way you play. For example, fielding a ground ball in the infield, the player will react to how hard you want to throw the ball to first. If you barely hold it down, the fielder makes a casual throw to first. If you hold the button down all the way, the player quickly makes a hard throw to first. In both of these situations, the transitions didn’t seem awkward. Everything flowed together giving the game a natural feel.
I also enjoyed the fact that the controls were very customizable, including fielding and pitching. The hitting and pitching mechanics have 3 different styles to choose from that varies in both feel and difficulty. There are two tiers of difficulty settings, with the first being a “Beginner Mode” that is based on a graduation system for those who aren’t familiar with the franchise. This year’s installment also included a quick-count system where you can preset the count anywhere from 1-0, 0-1 to 3-2 to help the game go by more briskly. This can also prove a challenge to those who keep it in the strike zone.
The Show’s “Road to the Show” (RTTS) game mode continues to be the game’s biggest draw amongst the many modes being offered. From the start, you can either create a customized character, allowing you to begin an adventure through the prospect showcase through the minor leagues, on the road to “The Show” (pun intended), or you can take control of a player on the current roster of any MLB team and be on your way. The latter option is very similar to the “Create a Legend” mode of NBA 2K. This mode works well if you have that one favorite player you want to see dominate the league. This mode rewards your play with attribute points to level up your player’s overall rating as you see fit, giving it more of an RPG feel.
The biggest gripe I have with MLB 14: The Show is that the loading screens take a considerably long time to load.
The biggest gripe I have with MLB 14: The Show is that the loading screens take a considerably long time to load. It really slows down the game when transitioning between the smooth-running menus to the game itself. Where other games on the PS4 have little to no load screens, the awkward load times had me wondering if my game had frozen completely. Hopefully this gets smoothened out in a patch at some point down the road.
The online features look promising, with modes such as online franchise and ranked matches, but the servers have struggled since the game launch. I played an online exhibition match and it was so glitchy that I felt like I was in a video game version of a dubstep song. Players were sliding all over the field and I couldn’t even take a decent swing at the plate with pitches moving at abnormal speeds. Granted, most online games have had their fair share of server woes as PS4 ports *coughBattlefield4cough*. Like many games before, I expect servers to become functional eventually.
If you currently own a PS4, or are considering purchasing one, MLB 14: The Show is a must-buy for anyone who enjoys the game of baseball.
MLB 14: The Show drives it home with a 8.5 out of 10