Review – MLB 14: The Show

By: Louis Edwards

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The MLB Season is in full swing and Sony has recently released their flagship sports title from San Diego Studios: MLB 14: The Show.

Did they hit a homerun or was it a swing and a miss? Read on to find out.

World Series: Game Seven

Bottom of the ninth. Two outs, bases loaded. Tying run standing ninety feet away.

The Kid digs in at the plate. He’s an eleven year old All-Star right fielder from Mineral Wells, Texas. He grew up just about an hour West of the ballpark. Standing in front of a hometown crowd, with friends and family in the stands.

The count sits at three and two. Rangers down to their last strike.

Here’s the pitch…

IT’S A DEEP DRIVE! Going back…. back…. back….

Outfielder giving chase… looking up…

AND IT’S A GRAND SLAM!

The Kid wins the World Series with one swing of the bat!

The crowd goes WILD!

Almost every kid dreams of playing baseball in the Major Leagues someday. Whether they are playing Little League in an organized setting, or just playing stickball with friends, baseball is a sport that most kids can play and most dream about playing on the big stage one day. In reality we all know that the chances of any one kid making it all the way to The Show is somewhere between slim and none. It requires not only a a serious dedication, but skills that not everyone possesses. For those of us that had those aspirations, but lacked the skills to make that trek, Sony’s San Diego Studios gives all of us the chance to live out that dream, albeit in a virtual world, with MLB 14: The Show.

For those of you wanting to make it the Major Leagues as an individual player, Road to the Show is where you’ll want to start. New for this year’s edition is the Topps Amateur Showcase and a more detailed First Year Player Draft. The showcase gives you three games to show off your stuff to all thirty Major League teams, and try to impress them. Have a good outing and your draft stock will rise, but have a bad day and you may not get drafter until much later. Once the draft is ready to start, you can preselect which team you would like to be drafted by, and chances are they’ll pick you.

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Road to the Show is THE best way to learn the ins and outs of baseball, for those of you unfamiliar with how the journey progresses and how the game is played. You’ll start out in the lowest Minor League system, Double-A (AA) and have to earn your promotion to the next level, Triple-A (AAA), and eventually you’ll get the call to the Majors. You can scout each team to see where they are on their depth chart for each position, and finding a team weak on your position of choice will help make your journey to The Show much shorter.

As you play the game, you’ll be rewarded for making great plays and having great at-bats with training points and a new. These points can then be used to increase your overall skills such as contact and power among other things or, if you’re a pitcher, you can use them for stamina and pitch quality, also among other things.The better you become, the better you play, the better your chance for a call-up.

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You’ll also be earning a new virtual currency called Stubs while you play, as well as experience points for your  Universal Profile. Stubs can be used to purchase training points for your RTTS player or card packs for your Diamond Dynasty team or items for your Franchise. Diamond Dynasty mode (PS3/PS4) is a card based system that allows you to build a team with player cards, and then use those players in-game. New for this years edition is Diamond Dynasty Extra Innings (PS3/PS4 only) will have other players matching up with your team, while you are offline. You can earn bonuses for games played by your team without you even stepping up to the plate. You can also challenge other teams in this offline mode.

Your Universal Profile stores a bunch of data on your play style, tendencies, and game management styles. When someone challenges your team offline, this data is used by the CPU to mimic your team’s play and performance, creating a virtual match-up that can be close to how you would have played had you actually been holding the controller. This takes artificial intelligence to the next level by allowing the CPU to play as you, instead of just using a generic game style.

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Franchise Mode takes a major step up in creation and editing this year and adds Online Franchise. You can now play online with friends, in a custom league, with custom scheduling, custom divisions, and even customized play-off formats. You’ll have scouting to do, as well as the Amateur Draft, free agency and CPU trades.

Returning for the PS3 and the PS4 is the Challenge of the Week. This is where the developers pick a hot pitcher and give you a hot bat to face him with. You can win prizes such as autographed baseballs or autographed custom game covers if you can top the leaderboard by the end of the week. A new challenge is posted every Monday, so stay tuned right here to see what they challenge is, or just pull up the challenge in-game and step up to the plate.

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Also new for this years edition are Community Challenges. Here you can create your own game situation, and then upload it and have others try to beat it online. You can wager and earn Stubs, or just play for fun, but either way it’s a fun way to push yourself and learn new things by putting yourself in pressure situations and working your way out of them. Creating your own challenge is pretty simple, but very full featured.

Another new feature is The Show Live. The game takes the actual MLB schedule, complete with line-ups and starting pitchers, and gives you a real time look at the games, and gives you the opportunity to play the games. You can even jump into a live game in a key situation. You can even use this feature to keep track of real time scores each day, or just to see what the start time is for your favorite team.

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MLB 14: The Show can be had in three different flavors this year. It is available for the PS Vita, the PS3, and is now ready for the next generation of gaming on the PS4. All three versions contain most of the same features, with each version taking a step up in graphics over its lesser counterpart. Almost all of the features are available on all three, with the Vita missing out on Online Franchises, Custom Challenges and The Challenge of the Week.

The graphics for the game are great on the Vita and the PS3, but the PS4 takes it where it has never gone before. the next generation of graphics are truly here with this version, and the details on the players, as well as the stadiums, are unsurpassed. To say this game looks great would be an understatement on the PS4. The game looks great on the PS3 and looks incredible on the PS4. Our only complaint would be the eyes of some of the players. If you zoom in on someone’s face, you’ll see they are missing eye lashes and look like they are wearing guyliner. Other than that, the graphics are perfection.

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Our favorite feature that was added in this year, and has to be the most requested feature ever for ANY sports title, is year-to-year saves. No longer will we have to start over from scratch when MLB 15: The Show comes out next year, as the game saves will transfer over to it, and we can continue our (hopefully) Hall of Fame careers into the next edition. We can already send our game saves to the cloud and use one save for all three platforms, but next year will give us the ability to to use that game save for that edition. Big thanks for that feature.

PS3 vs. PS4 Player Cards

PS3 vs. PS4 Player Cards

The Show series has long been the standard bearer when it comes to baseball video games. Other studios have tried to create a game that can match up, but none have done anything more than swing and miss. The Show continues to win accolade after accolade, and continues to set the bar that all sports titles should try to attain.

Well done San Diego Studios.

8.5

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