Sony Computer Entertainment
E for Everyone
Reviewed on PS3
Baseball season has come around again, and with it has come MLB 14: The Show. Conventional wisdom is that annualized games suffer for it. It is believed that the short development time leads to poor development decisions and truncated QA testing. MLB 14: The Show is a series that defies that pattern. It has been one of the most consistently rated sports titles over the past decade and the 2014 entry is no exception.
MLB 14: The Show is a baseball simulator that tries to replicate the experience of controlling a game that you are watching on a television and they more than succeed. The visuals are nothing short of astonishing. The character animations are incredibly detailed and accurate to the individual players. The characters eyes are a little dead, but that is to be expected. Animators haven’t been able to get past that barrier yet.
As impressive as the graphics may be the true strength of The Show is in the baseball itself. Players are forced into the shoes of whatever position they are controlling and face all of the challenges and decisions that the professionals do. Pitching is an exercise in strategy and batter manipulation as opposed to seeing how “fast your fastest fastball can go.” Likewise, batting is FAR from a hackfest. Players will need to swing carefully and avoid being baited into chasing pitches into the dirt (just like the pros). This does increase the challenge and complexity of the game so young children who don’t understand the subtleties of professional baseball might struggle.
Another area where The Show excels is in respecting your time. There are a number of options available to help limit the overall length of a game. They give you the ability to limit the TV presentation bits like always, but this year they have added a new “Quick Counts” feature. This actually simulates the first handful of pitches based on historical stats. This shortens games significantly (and might be the only reason some people actually finish a whole season in franchise mode).
Family Gaming Assessment:
MLB 14: The Show, and other games like it, are designed to accurately recreate the experience of watching a game live on television. If you are comfortable letting your child watch a baseball game then there are no reasons for concern.
This is a sports simulator. It is designed to represent, as accurately as possible, the skills and strategies that players use in the professional game. This adds a significant learning curve to the experience.
The developers do take care to provide a simpler experience for those who would like it. They include the ability to turn on one button hitting and pitching and automatic fielding as well. These are simple changes that help make the game more accessible to casual fans of the sport.
If you are a baseball household then MLB 14: The Show is a good purchase, but be aware of the difficulty curve.