If you read our previous review of Sony’s MLB ’14:The Show, than you know we absolutely loved the game as a whole. We lauded SCEA for the improvements to the game, including the highly desired online franchise. However, the game’s online connectivity and lag issues left us wanting more.
If you’re a fan of the series, than you know that online play has been a consistent problem with the series, but typically SCEA San Diego has done a good job of at least correcting the online issues where the game is typically functional. With that said, we thought it would be prudent to take another look at the games online portion now that patch 1.11 has been released to the public.
Our first test was to simply enter into the game room lobbies that SCEA provides online users. We chose a lobby, found each other, and proceeded to try and connect to play a simple online exhibition. In our desire to be fully transparent to our readers, my connection was a high-speed, 15 meg, and Millennium's was 100. We both reside in the eastern time-zone, and the time was approximately 7:00 PM EST.
We tried to connect via this route eight times, with negative results each attempt. Either one of us wouldn’t receive the invitation or the connection would just fail, and this happened every single time. The second avenue I chose was simply picking the online exhibition option from the games main menu. This time I had instant success connecting, although it would be against a random person. Nevertheless, we connected just fine and started the game. Although both of our connectivity notification bars were solid green, the connection was sketchy at best.
The issues started to arise instantly, as there were problems with a slight delay when swinging at the plate. If you swung on time you were constantly early, and it made it very difficult to get into any type of rhythm at the plate. On the pitching side things were better, but the term “better” is subjective to say the least. Both myself and the opponent had pitches that wound up going straight up into the air, as though the ball was shot out of a cannon. I also experienced issues of my pitch missing its intended target by three to four feet. As a former college pitcher, I understand that not every pitch ends up on target, but my scholarship would have been revoked with this game's results. This wasn’t a one-time occurrence either, and it happened much too often to ignore.
It wasn’t just on the mound, or at the plate that we noticed the struggles. We both experienced warping of runners, fielders, and balls in play. On one play I tried a suicide squeeze, and although the my opponents first basemen was drawn in at the time of the catcher fielding the bunt, he warped instantly to first base to snag the throw for the out. We are talking a good 30 feet of instant warping, and there is no way to put a good spin on that, no matter how big a fan of the series you are.
After that game we tried to connect to another random person through the online exhibition option, this time we were not able to connect at all, and received the dreaded “connection failed” error. It’s true, our sample size after the patch release is somewhat small, but our experience was consistent with past attempts both with the new game, and prior titles.
As with any game though, everyone’s online experience is going to differ, and we recognize that fact. Just because we had multiple issues, doesn’t necessarily mean that our readers will have the same experience. The game I was able to connect to was playable, but I tried to play it with a mindset of all the potential online franchise commissioners out there, and the difficulty of trying to maintain any type of lengthy franchise with these types of issues. As you can imagine, it didn’t leave us wanting to fire one up right away with the expectations that the members would thoroughly enjoy the experience.
We don’t know how much the online portion of the game will improve over time, but what we do know is this. The online experience has improved since the games release, but for us at least, it hasn't improved enough to warrant a higher recommendation for the game from our original review.