MLB 14 The Show Review (PS4)
It’s been more than a month since MLB 14: The Show released on PS3 and the Vita, and for many of us, April was agonizingly long month. As a community, we collectively waited for the release of our favorite baseball game on PS4 by analyzing every piece of news and video, playing lots of The Show on PS3, or perhaps just watching real baseball. My short trip to San Francisco to play the new version with the developers was an all too brief tease, as were the gameplay videos and Puig/Pence showdown.
The month is over, however, and those with the interest and ability probably have the next gen version of The Show firmly planted in their PS4s. If you are still looking for info and deciding whether to jump in, read on to see my thoughts on this latest edition of Sony’s hardball title.
First, it’s important to know that the gameplay is wholly intact from the PS3 version. I’ll direct you to Roberts’ review of The Show on PS3, because his thoughts and analysis of the refined gameplay pretty much mirror my own. Basically, if you’ve enjoyed The Show in the past, you’ll find the 2014 iteration to fit like a well-oiled glove.
All of the new improvements have made it to the PS4 version, such as the dynamic difficulty setting and the dynamic hitting and fielding cameras. I like all of these additions -- while they don’t wildly redefine the gameplay, they work well and certainly improve the total package. I’d say the new camera -- which doesn’t cut away from the ball when it’s put into play--helps to showcase the PS4’s graphical upgrades.
It’s these graphical improvement that you are paying for, you should “trade up” from the PS3 version. And, for a first year attempt at next gen graphics, this game looks pretty amazing.
First, I think the lighting is incredible. During the night, the colors really pop, recreating what night game looks like on TV. You can pick out individual bulbs in the lighting rigs. Each weather condition has a different visual feel, which also helps to emphasize the broadcast quality of the graphics.
There are additional animations as well, but I’ve had a hard time pinpointing exactly what’s new. While at Sony HQ, I was shown a “slap hit” animation, which looked good, so I know that they are there. I suppose the seamlessness of the new animations is a good thing, as it’s another subtle improvement to the game as a whole. Again, most of what you see are what you’ve seen if you’ve played the PS3 version this year or in the past.
Stadiums have also been given lovely makeovers, with much more detail and better texturing. In fact, these new textures (skin, leather, cloth, etc) are evident throughout the game, except in a few odd spots. I saw a dugout railing that looked remarkably flat and 2D next to the new, better-looking players. Speaking of players, most look fantastic; however, a few don’t quite capture the player they are supposed to be representing.
The crowds, too, look outstanding. It’s nearly impossible to notice repeated models, though I did catch a few of the aimless walkers who wonder to the bottom of the stairs and then back up. The new ball boys are a nice touch, though ball girls are more common in real life, at least here on the East Coast.
With huge graphical improvements to players, lighting, stadiums, and the crowd, you might expect the potential for glitches and slowdowns. I’m happy to report I’ve experienced very few instances of problems: a slight dip in frame-rate during a few cut scenes, a “shimmery” foul line, and a few randomly empty camera feeds. None of these have impacted my enjoyment or gameplay, though I suppose experiences may vary.
What is occasionally frustrating are the long load times. While I didn't time it, I'm estimating load time of approximately a minute, depending on the mode in question. There can also be a long load time just to get into the front end menu from the start screen. That said, my franchise file, once loaded, seems to get into games with a reasonable pace.
Commentary and sounds are uncompressed and of higher quality, but otherwise the same in content.
Again, the PS4 version is feature complete (minus custom sounds), so you can expect to play Road to the Show, Diamond Dynasty, and Online and Offline Franchises. I even tried loading my saved franchise from the cloud, and it worked flawlessly.
I will warn you, though, if you are expecting the cloud saves to be those PS+ uploads automatically, you’ll be disappointed -- especially if you’ve already traded in your PS3 copy. When you go to save your franchise progress, be sure to select the Save to Cloud option if you wish to take advantage of cross-platform saves.
My experiences with The Show online have been spotty, at best. Frequently, I've been unable to even connect with an opponent. When I do, it's usually a laggy experience, similar to past versions of The Show. Baseball is a game that requires precision timing to be successful, so any hitches in online gameplay can really ruin the experience.
For a more in-depth look at the state of MLB 14: The Show online, read our in-depth look here.
If you like the MLB: The Show series, this new PS4 version is the definitive way to play. It includes everything that makes the series great, but adds a true next-gen level of visual flair. I personally think the graphical improvements themselves make it easy to recommend an upgrade for PS3 owners.
That said, if you are jumping to the PS4 version in hopes of radical gameplay improvements, you’ll be disappointed. This is the same game -- just a much better looking version.
If you own a PS4, but haven’t picked up MLB: The Show 14 yet, what are you waiting for? This is certainly the best looking MLB game ever produced, and perhaps the best playing.
Learning Curve – Easy, if you’ve ever played the series before. Easier if you are a PS3 convert. Maybe a bit more difficult if you are a true rookie -- this is a very deep game.
Control Scheme - The same number of options found on the PS3 version are here.
Audio – Commentary and sounds get a auditory upgrade, but there no new content.
Visuals – The best reason to buy the PS4 version -- and console. This is a beautiful game, from the fine textures to the outstanding lighting.
Online – Really spotty performance. It can be tough just finding an opponent. Cross-platform saves, though, seem to work flawlessly.
Lasting appeal – With all of the gameplay modes making the jump, there’s no reason not to be playing this game through the World Series.
Score: 8.5 (Great)
Scoring Note from the Editor: MLB 14 The Show is a great game, despite its online flaws. Its simulation of the sport of baseball is unmatched, which makes it perhaps the most realistic sports game on the market. If Sony can ever figure out how to fix the online mess within the game, there is no doubt this game will be in the 9s in the future once again.