One of the biggest lessons in life is that sometimes we just can’t get things our way.
We live in a culture and within an era where customized and personal experiences are being delivered at an ever increasing pace. Within one genre of video games, that progress has been stifled and has fallen behind: sports video games. The old Rolling Stones song “You can’t always get what you want” has seemed all to pertinent for many titles within our genre.
But yet, MLB 14 The Show has delivered the epitome of what sports game developers should look for when producing quality sports game experiences: you can truly get the game you want if you look hard enough.
Most sports titles throw in sliders and some customizable volume options and call it a day — but The Show looks at that low-end watermark and laughs and the lack of imagination. Not only can you adjust the sliders in the game — and those sliders can dramatically alter the game mind you — but you can adjust the sounds within the game to the point where you can have custom walk-up music for every player on your team all while viewing the game through a camera angle you created yourself with a series of options within the game's UI which makes it as complex or simple as you like.
It really seems too good to be true sometimes.
While some sports games are dialing back a decade of progress in customization, one of which even eliminated roster customization altogether (NBA Live), MLB 14 The Show has gone full steam ahead with both customization and creation options for gamers. I would joke and say the only thing lacking is a stadium creator/editor — but give the folks at Sony enough time and they might just do that as well.
In the most recent Press Row Podcast, I told Rich Grisham that The Show was beautiful because it could be so many things to so many people.
If you want a hardcore and unforgiving simulation of baseball, that game waits for you.
If you want a quick hitting, power driven, and more arcade experience — that game also waits for you.
If you want to manage the game and be the ultimate baseball strategist — yes that game waits for you.
And if you want to be a top-flight GM, managing a roster over years of progress — that game is also waiting for you.
The beauty of entering The Show is that you are entering a world you can make your own. Today, it almost seems a brave move by developers to give users tools and then to simply say, “Go, have fun!”
But SCEA has done that, and in return there is a dedicated community of baseball fans who adore their game — so much so that the mere thought of jumping ship from PlayStation and giving up The Show likely induces early stage withdrawal symptoms.
While the entire game is far from perfect — there’s always next year for that anyways — the ability to customize your experience to something you like means that, at the very least, every baseball fan should find some enjoyment out of this year’s game if they look hard enough.
When you are making a game, that’s probably the highest achievement one could hope for. As MLB 14 The Show teaches us, sometimes in life you can get what you want — you just might have to tweak the settings some.