Baseball has gone through quite a rollercoaster in popularity as of late. It saw a surge in the 90â€™s and early 00â€™s, but recently, thereâ€™s been quite the decline. Large numbers of seats are left empty, especially in the smaller markets, and the aura of baseball being Americaâ€™s Pastime is beginning to wane. But, the folks over at Sony San Diego have created the most consistent sports game in MLB 14 The Show in the past decade, creating a beacon of hope for sports games to follow. Year in and year out, The Show gets better and better, and this year is no exception.
When first stepping to the plate in The Show, itâ€™s quickly apparent that itâ€™s an absolutely gorgeous game. Each stadium with itâ€™s unique feel and ambiance is perfectly executed. The Green Monster at Fenway is foreboding as ever, the Steel City watches over PNC Park and the Sculpture at Marlins Stadium looks as awkward and strange as usual. As detailed as the stadiums are, the players have been given just as much detail. Itâ€™s not the physical appearance of each player thatâ€™s striking though, itâ€™s their mannerisms and attitude that really shows through. The attention to detail of how each player swings the bat, or his reaction to a home run is strikingly similar to his real-life counterpart. Itâ€™s these mannerisms that separate each player from one another, further proving that a single model wasnâ€™t used as a template across the players. Itâ€™s almost as if I can hear my feet crunching on peanut shells and can smell the $9 beer in the air. The TV-like presentation is also executed extremely well; it looks like an actual broadcast and the increased number of fans hammer home the realism factor, something many other sports games just canâ€™t seem to get right. Having said that, the announcers, which havenâ€™t changed for quite a few seasons, really hinder the experience. They are generally fine, for a game or two, but after playing a seasonâ€™s worth of games and hearing the same anecdotes over and over, it definitely invokes a sense of Groundhog Day. Needless to say, music will replace the announcers sooner rather than later when youâ€™re fighting your way to the Pennant.
If taking your favorite game to the World Series becomes a tiring task year after year, never fear, there are a ton of modes In The Show. The usual modes are back, such as season, franchise and Road To The Show. But, Road To The Show has been given quite a nice upgrade. When creating your RTTS character, you play in the Topps Showcase which is a set of evaluation games that slot your player into a specific draft position based on performance. Once those games are played, you can choose a team to play on or participate in the draft, waiting for your name to be called. Being part of the draft is such a unique experience and being selected by a club is exciting. If youâ€™re not a fan of the RTTS mode, another great feature added is that of player-lock. Maybe you feel like playing as the stud center fielder for the Pirates, Andrew McCutchen; now, you can play as him for the entirety of his career. A nice touch for those that want to play as their favorite player and see them win the World Series. The Showâ€™s newest mode is called Community Challenges. Community Challenges allows you to setup every aspect of a game situation with a certain goal in mind. Once you complete your created situation, it goes live to challenge other playersâ€™ mettle. The final two, and quite possibly biggest enhancements in this iteration of The Show are year-to-year saves and the cross-save feature. Ever get tired of starting your stud 3rd basemen over every year? Now, for the first time ever in the franchise, you can carry your playersâ€™ progression over to the next year. Such a great feature that should be added in all sports games. Also, having the ability to continue your season on the road is wonderful with cross-save. The only shame is that youâ€™ll have to buy the game twice in order to utilize the extremely useful feature.
Onto the real star of the show, the gameplay. The Show has always had great, simulation-like gameplay and it has transitioned quite well to the Next Gen console. The batting is as precise as ever; and, just like every other iteration, swinging for the fences every time will leave you walking back to the dugout more often than not. The various controller schemes allow for even the most novice players to have an absolute blast with the show. From a strictly timing based experience to the more challenging guess pitch and location experience, there really is fun to be had for everyone. The pitching and fielding mechanics have remained generally unchanged, sans a great new sliding mechanic. Now you have the ability to slide head first (right stick up) with various hooks to avoid a tag and flicking the right stick down will have you slide feet first. The sliding gets a bit addicting and is, apparently, a great way to send a player straight to the 15-day DL if used too much. As solid and proven as the gameplay is some weird animations have, once again, made it into the show. At times, fielding can seem like a chore, and throwing to a base can produce some quirky animations. Thereâ€™s been a few times where the cut-off man would throw extremely hard right at the second baseman thatâ€™s a few feet away. Minor clipping has also occurred, most often after a homerun when the player is celebrating with his teammates after reaching home plate, or when people in the crowd walk through each other. Neither of these two occurrences is egregious, but they have been prevalent in quite a few iterations of The Show, and itâ€™s strange they keep showing up. The weird animations and clipping issues are minor qualms compared to the two biggest issues in The Show, inconsistent internet play and long installs and loading times.
The netcode in The Show Franchise has always seemed to be subpar, and itâ€™s sad to say this hasnâ€™t seemed to change on the PS4. Sometimes, the game plays nearly flawlessly, but in a game that requires such timing as the show, itâ€™s a shame to see drops in online play at all. Even more aggravating is the long initial install time, upwards of 15-20 minutes, to long load times getting into any game mode, around a minute at its worst. There is nothing like the excitement of playing your first game and then realizing it will take a bit longer than anticipated to actually get into a game.
MLB 14 The Show is another gorgeous entry of the Series. It possesses all of its previous characteristics with nice additions, but in typical The Show fashion, it also brings along the errors from its previous years. Make no mistake, MLB 14 The Show is the premier sports game to get and the only baseball game out. You will enjoy your time with The Show, so sit back and savor it.
– Online inconsistencies
– Long initial install
– Load times to get into any game mode