MLB 14: The Show review: Baseball title juiced up on PS4

MLB 14: The Show
PS4 (reviewed), PS3, PS Vita
SCE San Diego Studio/Sony Computer...

MLB 14: The Show
PS4 (reviewed), PS3, PS Vita
SCE San Diego Studio/Sony Computer Entertainment
Rating: Everyone

Rating

4 Stars4/5

, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

Baseball hasn’t exactly integrated itself into the collective consciousness of Canadians over the years like hockey. It’s as American as apple pie, after all, not as Canadian as an apple fritter Timbit.

A lot of folks in the Great White North grew up with the much faster-paced hockey, and they see baseball as a sport that’s simply too slow. MLB 14: The Show illustrates what baseball would be like without constant commercial breaks, double-digit pitch counts and the dreaded instant replay.

And it is, for the most part, glorious.

The Sony-exclusive baseball series has been around for nearly a decade now, and the 2014 version makes an appearance on the PS3, PS4, and Vita. The PS4 version may have arrived a little late into the MLB season, but it was certainly worth the wait.

Besides looking painfully awesome – you can practically see the chewed up sunflower seed shells littering the ground in the dugout – there is simply a staggering amount of stuff to do here, and nearly everything is worth taking a hack at.

You can be controlling every last detail of an entire franchise in the aptly-named Franchise Mode one minute, and gleefully crushing balls out of the park in a home run contest the next.

I’m a big fan of the Road to the Show mode, where gamers take control of a single player and watch him rise through the ranks of the minor leagues on his way to (hopefully) becoming a superstar and World Series champion in the majors.

Road to the Show lets people run through games quickly, as they only take control of their player when it’s time to bat, or field a ball while playing defence. It’s also a training mode of sorts for when it’s time to challenge other humans online.

Nearly every mode in The Show has an online component. You can create an online franchise where you and some buddies (or random players, or CPU-controlled teams) can take each other on in a journey toward baseball domination, while Diamond Dynasty (the weakest aspect of The Show as far as I’m concerned) has you creating your own team and taking on other players around the world.

It’s the online functionality that is also the game’s biggest weakness. Online features often take an inordinate amount of time to connect, and while lag wasn’t particularly prevalent in most online games I played, there were more than a couple of fielding errors that occurred due to some sort of connection hiccups. And don’t get me started on how convoluted it is simply sending and receiving invitations and notifications, respectively.

There are countless user-generated challenges available - bite-sized scenarios from games, such as attempting to finish off a batter to complete a perfect game, or driving home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. These are a lot of fun, but I completed two challenges without actually reaching the requirements asked of me. The game would freeze briefly, and when things got going again, I somehow managed to achieve my goal.

Load times, meanwhile, are worth mentioning to due how atrocious they are. I’ve seen overweight catchers round the bases faster after a home run than it took to exit out of a demo game in The Show.

My one other gripe is that the game feels just a tad bloated. Yes, it’s extremely noble of the developer to include so much content, and there’s no doubt that players will get their money’s worth, but I think even taking out something like Diamond Dynasty, and streamlining everything else, would help make the game more accessible. Far too often, menus and instructions in The Show are annoyingly convoluted. I’m betting a lot of people will become so frustrated that they’ll give up before getting to all the addictive gameplay on offer once you do hit the diamond and begin playing.

While there are certainly some issues holding MLB 14: The Show back from being a classic in the sport game genre, there’s far more good than bad. The attention to detail, the plethora of content and the rock-solid gameplay make up for any problems.

And if you are ready to give up on The Show because of those longer-than-usual load times, just turn on a real baseball game – I’m guessing you’ll be back playing the video game in no time.


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