MLB 14 The Show on the PlayStation 4 – Game Review and Analysis
By Dan Maurer
After making its debut last month on the previous generation PlayStation 3, MLB The Show 2014 was a game loaded with content and exciting gameplay. Not to be outdone, its PlayStation 4 counterpart has now debuted on the next generation console and boasts not only the same exciting gameplay and content, but also a massive boost in resolution and detail. MLB The Show 2014 is by far the best next generation sports game out currently in my opinion and find out below why I have made that choice.
Look out at the stadiums, the scoreboards, the players, and even the fans, and you can instantly see the dramatic improvements PlayStation 4 technology brings to the game. While PlayStation 3 stadiums only feature a total of about 150,000 polygons, the PS4 stadiums now boast over 1 million, including four times the texture resolution. “In the PS3 game, we only have 42 people in the crowd, and those people are just duplicated all over the stadium,” explains Ramone Russell, the game’s producer. “You’ll see the same fans over and over again and they’re always wearing the same clothing. In the PS4 version we have 1,000 people, so there is just so much more variation, including kids in the stands for the first time. It’s crazy, our fans in the PS4 game are made of about the same amount of polygons as the players in the PS3 version.” Add to that new lighting effects, new PS4 specific dust particles, and more natural looking blades of grass, and you can see why Russell and crew are excited for baseball fans to see the striking difference the new hardware makes. Adds Russell: “We rebuilt all of our stadiums from scratch for the PS4, and for the first time, we even have the ability to simulate how sunlight reflects off different surfaces throughout each of these baseball cathedrals.” Definitely a beautiful game to look at in my opinion.
The highlight just as it is every year with the series, is the “Road to the Show.” You create a player from scratch, but this year you can model your guy on a real-life major leaguer. I decided to model my guy after Angels player David Freeze. So far I’ve yet to make a solid impression on the local AA Team. Sony has revamped some of the player training and performance evaluation in Road To The Show, but the essence remains. You see only your character’s at-bats and fielding chances, so the focus is less on winning the game than on making sure he contributes positively. A game only takes five minutes, so you could whip through an entire season in a day. “MLB 14 The Show” takes that single-player focus and brings it to other game modes as well. A new “Player Lock” feature lets you pick any big leaguer and play multiple seasons as just that guy. If you’re looking for a really brief game, you should check out the new “Community Challenges.” Each challenge plops you into a certain game situation. For example, having your player coming to bat with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th. You can also create your own challenges and present them to other online players.
For all its innovations and in-depth modes sadly The Show’s online implementation is far less impressive. The development team had touted a new system built from the ground up to reduce the chronic lag and connection problems that have plagued the series this entire generation, but my experience has been anywhere from okay to very poor. Exhibition matches suffer from bad timing at the plate and stuttering in the field. The new Online Franchise has been reported by some players to be almost unplayable currently, causing lockups of said players systems. It’s a shame because Online Franchise has some great design ideas, including customizable seasons that you play with a group of friends over a short, flexible schedule. But the actual games just don’t work yet. Perhaps one or more of the upcoming planned patches will improve this feature, but as of now it’s nothing but frustrating. If you’re planning on any significant online action with The Show, it’s impossible to recommend at this time.
Besides the hiccups playing online currently, MLB The Show 2014 is a fantastic content filled game that I highly recommend to anyone who needs their baseball fix. There are several patches upcoming that are looking to tackle the online issues with the game. If you enjoy baseball and playing baseball games, then MLB The Show 2014 for PlayStation 4 is the game for you.
PunchDrunkGamer.com Final Score: 9 out of 10
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