Verdict: 9.0 out of 10
I know, I know. MLB 14: The Show was released on PS4 on May 6th and I’m just now writing the review. I however cannot control this because I joined the B.A.T.G.R team 2 ½ weeks ago and yesterday learned a review for this game had not yet been done. Fear not! I know you’ve been clamoring for it so here it is! Well, that might be an overreach but if you are a baseball fan, than maybe not. MLB 14: The Show rewards the most die-hard of baseball fans. The bigger the fan and the more you understand the game, the more you can appreciate the nuances SCE San Diego Studio introduced to this latest installment of the franchise.
If you are looking for a detailed breakdown of each feature that this game has to offer, then this article may not be for you. You could, literally, write a 100 page manual on all of the different game modes, customizations, and intricacies that are at your disposal. I’ll admit, it can be a tad overwhelming at times. Do I want to play a scrimmage online to test my skills, practice my pitch selection in practice mode, start a season with my favorite team, create a player named Justin DiMaggio and bring him from Single-A all the way to the Bigs, and the list goes on and on. The options, at your disposal, are numerous but I found myself sticking to single game exhibition mode versus the PC, playing a shortened season with my Texas Rangers, Home Run Derby, and online play versus friends. You can tailor the settings to make it as easy or difficult as you want the game to be. I mean you can make pitchers your facing get tired quickly, throw a higher percentage of strikes, and even reduce the break of his slider to make it easier to hit. It’s pretty amazing.
Earlier I wrote that the bigger a fan you are of baseball and the more you understand the game, then the more you’ll appreciate what this game has to offer. What I meant by that is you can set your defensive positioning, call for a hit-and-run, choke up on the bat for a 2-strike count to try and make contact, call for time if the pitcher is taking too long, adjust your swing to hit a fly ball to try and let a runner tag from 3rd, etc. Honestly, that’s not even scratching the surface. What I’m getting at is that this is a true baseball sim. The players, their gestures, the stadiums, crowds, even announcers all appear as realistic as I have ever seen in a sports game. Even with all of these controls, the game does take time to figure out. The ‘Rookie’ setting takes a lot of the controls away such as fielding and sending the runner so that you can focus on the pitching and hitting. There is even an interactive setting that adjusts the difficulty depending on how well or not-so-well you’re doing. Even if you’re not a big baseball fan, you can have fun playing this game with simply trying to time your swing correctly or strike out the competition. This is essentially one big game containing hundreds of mini-games.
As long as you have an internet connection, current game scores and stats will scroll along the bottom of your screen allowing you to keep up with what’s actually going on in MLB. You can also download the latest MLB lineups each week which takes into account whether a player is hurt or is playing well in real-life or not and adjusts their stats accordingly. Even if you create a player or a team, you’ll be able to import them to next year’s version of the game, a new feature that was added to this installment. The button layout, albeit technical, is very intuitive and customizable. Baseball games can be long but you can set the game to ‘Quick Count’ which automatically takes you to a decisive count during an at-bat, speeding up the game. You simulate just about every aspect of a game, jumping to a particular inning or at-bat. You’re not forced to watch a runner round the bases after a homerun or wait for a pitcher to understand his catcher’s sign. Playing a 9-inning game straight through without simulating anything takes roughly 45 minutes to an hour.
After reading this, you probably think I leave and breathe baseball and that I feel this is the best videogame ever made. However that is not true and there are parts of the game that are not as appealing and fun. Load times are extremely long but they only occur right before a game begins. Playing a baseball game time and time again can get old and leave you wanting to play a different game. While the soundtrack is descent, I would like to have seen more songs as I’m sick of every single song that is on the soundtrack. Check-swings don’t always happen when you intend. Online play can lag which is horrible for this type of game, making it nearly impossible to even get your bat on the ball when hitting. Also, the in-game currency that can actually be purchased for your hard earned money is unnecessary. I was given 5,000 stubs as a consolation by Sony when the game wasn’t available to download from the PlayStation Store until 2:00 PM CST on May 6th. It was valued at $5.00 however I never used any of them. Finally, that brings me to the digital release issue. I had this game pre-ordered on the PS Store and stayed up all night trying to download it. When I went to work that morning exhausted with nothing to show for it, I was actually pretty darn upset. The $5.00 in in-game currency and a $10.00 PSN gift card helped, but I vowed to never pre-order a game from the PS Store again. I know that’s not the fault of the game itself, but that issue did make the game look bad, whether that’s fair or not. It was being called MLB 14: The No Show.
To sum it all up, I came away from this game feeling like I had won a game with a Walk-Off Hit-by-Pitch. While the game was great leaving me with the feeling of a walk-off, the HBP of not getting the game when it was first supposed to come out left me stinging a bit. It soon wore off however and I have a winner, winner, chicken dinner.