Review: MLB 14 The Show (PS4)

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MLB 14 The Show makes the jump to the next generation of systems, and it’s mostly a successful transition.

Like the FIFA and NBA franchises before it, The Show put out a current-gen offering earlier in the year and then followed it up with some next-gen eye candy. Unlike those other sports, however, The Show didn’t ship a game that was a shell of its former shelf. All of the game modes you’ve come to expect are here.

For many players, the first thing they’ll want to jump into is Road to the Show. As it has for several years, MLB The Show lets you create a player and then work your way up from Double-A to become a star in the majors. This mode might not have the elaborate staged scenes that NBA 2K14 introduced, but it’s still rock solid.

The game continues to get smarter about how it awards points that you can use to boost your player’s attributes. Did you strike out in a tough at-bat where you fought off several borderline pitches? You’ll be rewarded, not punished. Gone are the annoying goals that became almost ridiculous later in your career, like “hit 18 home runs this month” (that actually happened back in MLB 12) — instead, points and assessments are based purely on what you do on the field. The training exercises are smarter as well; for example, doing a defense drill as a third baseman isn’t impossible anymore, whereas before it felt like you got yelled at (and lost points) no matter which base you threw to.

Other familiar modes like franchise return. Diamond Dynasty is interesting, but tough to get into. The home run derby is back and is amusing for at least the first couple tries. And The Show Live is great for players who enjoy simulating day-to-day matchups with accurate rosters. I’m mostly in this for Road to the Show, but you’ll
find plenty besides that to choose from.

A couple other cool design choices are new this year, like Quick Counts, which allow you to skip some early pitches in an at-bat to speed up game times a bit. You might find yourself starting with a juicy 3-0 pitch, or fighting out of a hole at 0-2. There’s also some cool cross-compatibility with the Vita, where you can save your game online and then resume it on the portable system, or vice versa. I don’t have a Vita, but for hardcore fans, taking your game on the road is a cool idea.

Of course, a next-gen release is going to have its share of issues, and The Show is no exception. Among some of the weird bugs I saw, players occasionally teleport from a scripted scene like a shot of the dugout or a batter heading up to the plate, and abruptly end up back in their correct place in the field. On more than one occasion playing center field, a ground ball up the middle that hit the pitcher was called a double off the wall. A pitch that was three feet outside once triggered a “hitters don’t like nearly being hit” line of dialogue.

Another minor gripe isn’t The Show’s fault, but the PS4’s instead. Sounds of the Show is one of the most popular features of the game each year, letting you add your own menu music and upload your own tunes to use as your walk-up theme or the music that plays when you hit a home run. That’s awesome. Unfortunately, the PS4 still hasn’t included the basic functionality of adding mp3 files to your system, so this feature is useless for anything except the 10 or so included tracks.

For fans who worry about whether a year-to-year update is worth it, you’re going to struggle here. There aren’t any huge new modes or features added, but a lot of small things were tweaked. And of course, the graphical update might be enough to sway you if you really like the series.

MLB 14 The Show is as good as it gets for baseball action, especially now that the 2K series has been canceled and there’s no competition. Luckily, the SCEA team continues to try to put out the best game possible each year. The formula will need some shaking up once the series has settled in on the next-gen systems, but for now, the game fills a hole in an otherwise lackluster launch lineup for the PS4. It’s worth a purchase if you enjoy the national pastime.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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