MLB 14: The Show Review

Batter up.

(Editor's note: The following three paragraphs refer to the PlayStation 4 version of MLB 14: The Show.)

Where its standard features are concerned, MLB 14: The Show on the PlayStation 4 is identical to its PS3 counterpart. Nothing has been removed in the move to PS4, nor is anything added, so if you're already enjoying the excellent PS3 version, know that you're not missing any gameplay experiences.

What you are missing, however, are the significantly upgraded visuals. All 30 MLB stadiums have been completely rebuilt, and they look incredibly detailed. Realistic shadows and textures bring the stadiums to life like never before. Given the drastically boosted crowd audio and models which make the stadiums feel like real places full of baseball fans, it's no exaggeration to say that The Show has set the bar for stadium authenticity.

What's nice, and unique among recent sports games, is that the jump to the new generation did not lead to a drastically different feel. Both Madden 25 and NBA 2K14 played slightly differently on the PS4, making for an awkward transition if you made the leap between versions. In The Show, the timing and controls work exactly the same on the PS4 as they do on the PS3, so the timing you've been working so hard to get perfected is still spot on. Swing away. - JD, 5/6/2014 12:01 PDT

MLB 14: The Show is in a tricky position. It's got no competition to speak of now that 2K Sports has canned its long-running baseball franchise. The Show hits a last-gen console and won't see a PlayStation 4 release for another month. And so for the first time in memory, The Show feels like it's somewhat resting on its laurels. Or maybe like cover athlete Miguel Cabrera, it's confident in its Win Above Replacement, even this late in a console cycle. Because when there is nobody else stepping up to the plate, you don't have to swing for the fences.

Nevertheless, MLB 14 is the most robust, gorgeous-looking baseball simulation to date. There's a satisfying weightiness to MLB 14, a physicality to the crack of the bat or a diving catch for a line drive. The Show makes you earn every on base, every double play, and every strikeout, and it creates a sense of elation when you succeed, the intensity of the joy matched only by the intensity of the devastation you feel upon botching a play. Getting on base requires a keen eye and quick calculations: guessing the pitch, adjusting your aim, picking a swing type, and getting the timing just right all happen nearly simultaneously. If you're playing in the outfield, it's your job to make a split-second decision. Can you chase down a line drive, while picking the direction and power for the throw to second to stop the runner? There's a tension that comes with every pitch because once the action moves, it moves fast, and it's do or die.

MLB 14 is not an easy game; at its default settings, it requires perfect timing and lightning reflexes. Happily, Sony San Diego has included so many customization options that you can create the baseball experience that suits you. Praising difficulty sliders and tweaking options sounds weird, but they're worth commending because they work so well. I can fine-tune The Show to make any aspect of it easier, or more difficult, in a way that doesn't breaks the game. Though cranking everything down lets a skilled player rack up some huge leads, it's still very much an enjoyable and entertaining baseball experience.

While MLB 14 is hardly just a simple roster update, it contains noticeably fewer new features than MLB games from previous years. Last year's game boasted an entirely new adaptive difficulty mechanic to ease new players in, and expanded the franchise to be a baseball nerd's dream come true. Of course those features remain, and nothing substantial has gone missing, but the new additions to MLB 14 don't feel as important to the core of the game like a revamped Franchise mode, new swinging mechanics, and modified difficulty system do. This year's hooks aren't as substantial, given the series' reputation for reinvention.

There are certainly additions to this year's ballgame, however, most noticeably player lock. The concept of player lock has been featured in other sports games: you pick one athlete and control only him through the course of the game. What makes MLB's player lock different from Madden's or NBA 2K14's is that it can be turned on and off in different game modes. If you want to play a full nine innings as the entire Blue Jays lineup for a month, then switch midseason to focus on shortstop Jose Reyes, and then change back to the full team for the playoffs, you can do that. You're not locked into a separate game mode or full season, and you have the freedom to jump around as you see fit. It's a level of freedom that becomes increasingly satisfying through the course of a season, especially in Franchise mode, because the experience of playing different fielding positions is unique and different from other team sports. Taking the mound and controlling the pitches may be the classic way to play baseball, but there is a nerve-racking excitement to taking an infield position and making those split-second decisions that mean the difference between a double play and losing the lead.

Thankfully, the presentation in The Show remains stellar, offering lively, informative commentary that holds more humor than you might expect. If you're playing one team through an entire season, you're going to hear a lot of the same stuff. But there are different chunks of dialogue for everything, from the showcase, to minor league games, to the post-season. The lighting in the stadiums and the camera angles used can often make MLB 14 look like an actual MLB broadcast. The all-star players look incredible, clearly getting the most love, though every player in the game looks close to his real self, better than most of the sports game competition manages.

The presentation in The Show remains stellar, offering lively, informative commentary that holds more humor than you might expect.

Focusing your attention on a single player has long been central to the Road to the Show mode, and that mode returns as well. Creating a brand-new player, taking him through the minor leagues and into the majors, and earning that spot on the lineup is a long, tough journey that comes with a sense of accomplishment far greater than jumping into the cleats of an already established slugger. This time around, Road to the Show borrows elements from games like NBA 2K14, with a three-game showcase to start you off. Play well in the showcase, and your draft stock rises. Players still have the option to choose which team drafts them, but they have to work extra hard at their position if there's already an all-star filling that slot.

The other new feature, quick counts, solves a major issue with The Show: video baseball takes forever to play. A game of football or basketball takes about half an hour, but you can get into pitcher-dominated standoffs for hours in MLB 14. Quick counts jumps you in deep in the count, simulating the first few pitches based on the players' stats and abilities. It cuts the game time in half, allowing you to get further into a season, and finally makes The Show a game you can play at your leisure, without having to invest a substantial block of time.

Online players can use quick counts to speed up player-versus-player matches, though I found full games of baseball to be the least interesting offering online, when compared to the shorter, more multiplayer-friendly matches like Home Run Derby and the newer online modes. Community challenges add a new customizable minigame aspect to The Show. Kind of like in a massively multiplayer online version of HORSE, you can create scenarios and goals and then challenge other players. Set the game up to have bases loaded, a deep count, two outs, and two runs down in the bottom of the ninth, and dare the rest of the world to do anything, from striking out the last batter, to hitting a grand slam. Creating the challenges can feel a bit like being MLB's devious Jigsaw, but the challenges come with a caveat: you have to be able to complete them before you can post them. So not only are they a fun addition, but they serve as a badge of honor in the community, and a sort of backward version of sharing replays.

Community challenges and player lock might not be enough to make MLB 14 feel like a brand-new ballgame, and with a PS4 version on the way, it would not be unwise to hold off to see how the game improves in the jump to the next generation. But The Show is still a fantastic representation of baseball, capturing the thrill and grand scale of the national pastime.

The Good
Player lock system makes for a more personal experience
Quick Counts speed up the game pacing dramatically
New online mini-game creator offers unlimited challenges for you and friends
Extremely satisfying gameplay that rewards or punishes for everything
The Bad
Lackluster new features compared to previous games
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Jack DeVries used to spend every day creating custom teams in RBI Baseball on the Genesis so that he could pretend he was an MLB star. Now he watches a lot of baseball-themed anime and has serious opinions on stadium architecture.

Discussion

54 comments
dmblum1799
dmblum1799

It's not the same game as last year if you're on the PS4 - it's the best PS4 game currently out.  You know it's a baseball game and there are so many bells and whistles to put on it.


But it's a damn good baseball game and better with the new controller.

starjay009
starjay009

WHY would you get this game on the PS3 when you KNOW it will be out for the PS4 soon. 

SpydogK
SpydogK

Love how Gamespot won't make a video review or feature this updated review on the main page, but will make a full length article and VIDEO for the COD Advanced Warfare trailer IN ADDITION TO THE TRAILER ITSELF. It's hard to believe that in the heart of Baseball country in the Bay Area that Gamespot gives MLB no love.


P.S. The game is great folks. Just don't get the digital copy.

Halloll
Halloll

I'm not an American but I always had an interest in baseball, maybe it's because I used to watch so many baseball anime as a child, seriously consider getting this game as my PS4 only played Ground Zeros.

oo7superdave
oo7superdave

does anyone know if the in game currency affects the game in negative way like nba 2k14 did.  I wanted to buy this but when I saw that it had in game currency i got worried nba 2k14 was destroy by this feature

Metallicwolf29
Metallicwolf29

Did they finally add rain outs and double headers? Can you offer contract extensions?

Arther-la-Blunt
Arther-la-Blunt

Please make a video review. Baseball is already boring enough. I can't imagine how boring reading about it is.

grognard66
grognard66

Will a Vita review be coming soon? 


I hope the PS4 version turns out ok as that's probably the version I'll go with.  I think I'm one of the few people who actually enjoyed MLB13 on Vita last year, but I'll probably just hold onto that copy for Vita and get the PS4 version this year.

Mr_Mark_Legion
Mr_Mark_Legion

ive been enjoying this. its my first in the series. finished my first season on RTTS with my closer (no post season) and lookin forward to many more seasons to come.

nervedamaged
nervedamaged

Sounds like there are more new features than he concluded at the end of the review.

nervedamaged
nervedamaged

I think i'll check back at last years copy, wright down all the settings and slider locations for a smoother and quicker way to get into the Show on PS4..  just a thought.

DARKSPACE
DARKSPACE

Where's the video review? I thought that was a GS specialty.

scottysell1
scottysell1

Can anyone tell me if any of the top prospects are in this game?  I'm trying to find the rosters online, but can't find them anywhere.  Some of the guys I'm wondering if are in this game are:


Kris Bryant, Jorge Solar, Javier Baez - Cubs

Francisco Lindor - Indians

Kyle Zimmer - Royals

Byron Buxton, Miquel Sano - Twins

Archie Bradley - Diamondbacks


I'm deciding whether to buy the game and if some/most of these prospects are in the game, I probably would be more likely to.  If anyone who owns the game can help and let me know if any of these guys are in the game or not it would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks!

Bolgernow
Bolgernow

Good review. Love The Show. Gotten it since 08 every year. Can...not...wait for PS4 version!

Tigerbite2
Tigerbite2

I bought my PS3 back in December.  This is the first The Show game I've ever played.  I always heard it was way better than the 2K series, but I always thought, how different can it be.  Well...let's just say I feel like I wasted my life on the 2k games.  They're absolute trash compared to this beauty of a game.  If only I had a PS4 to see those epic beards.

mbounce88
mbounce88

BTW it could have been his crappy 32 inch emerson as well.. 

mbounce88
mbounce88

Ive been playing PS4 since release on my new 55 incher. I went over to my friends and he had The Show 14 on ps3.. I couldn't believe how bad it looked to me.. Don't get me wrong, I know its one of the best looking games ever on last gen consoles. I am just getting spoiled with the PS4. I can't wait to get it for the PS4 .. A dang month : ( I played this game religiously last year on ps3 and I tried a couple at bats, couldnt even get a hIt!!!!! I need to get back into Show Mode!!

GSGuy321
GSGuy321

Quick counts sounds like a brilliant feature.

ohjtbehaaave
ohjtbehaaave

Tempted to get this Saturday for PS3, but will probably wait another month for the PS4 version and those fancy HD beards!!!

jagdedge124
jagdedge124

Great game. Player lock is a blast and now they have Commentary on the RTTS. The only bad things i can say is the music stinks (although that's easily rectified by importing your own stuff), and they muffed up some Jersey's (ie the Mets home white jersey isn't there). Other than that probably the best sports game i ever played, and that says alot being i play them all (or most).

redzed24
redzed24

3 of the pluses were new features and his minus was not enough new features?? hmmmm.. perhaps a new line of work is in order.. 


MaddenBowler10
MaddenBowler10

Newer features =/= better games. You can only have so many ways to play a sports game just like playing games like Call of Duty and Battlefield. The big thing is actually improving on what's already there. Gamers will take notice at those things. Quality > Quantity. MLB 14 The Show looks to have taken that approach this year and I'm glad they did.

chingchow48
chingchow48

Haven't bought a show game since the ps2 days with MLB '06 the show. And i promised myself I would buy one when I got a PS3, got the PS3 last year and am getting myself the show when my paycheck comes next friday! Last baseball game i played was MLB 2k11... and while that was better than the other baseball game i played this generation mlb 2k9.... GOD WAS THAT AWFUL. Lets just say its finally time to retire MLB 06 the show and my ps2 from under my tv and get a new one! 

haze0986
haze0986

@scottysell1  did they play in an official game last year? if not then you have to wait until they do, then wait until they update the rosters to include them, you cant use aa or aaa players because they arent part of the players association

haze0986
haze0986

@mbounce88  same here, i go back to ps3 for the ps plus games because hey why not but its like playing sega to me ha, i too bought my ps4 with a brand new 1080p 50 inch. gonna starve when this releases on ps4 lol

Tigerbite2
Tigerbite2

@mbounce88 The default settings are fucking insane.  I was getting my ass handed to me.  I changed the modes and now it's more balanced (for me anyways).  Been having good close games.  Changed my difficulty to dynamic to grow with me (First time playing any The Show game.)

MaddenBowler10
MaddenBowler10

@mbounce88  Yea, there's no doubt the PS3 is starting to show its age and they most definitely did not improve the graphics for the PS3 version this year. You can tell they spent most of their time improving the visuals on the PS4 version. I'm sure your eyes will be treated well in May when the PS4 version is released.

Tigerbite2
Tigerbite2

@GSGuy321 And brilliant it is!  Only down side, if I try to pitch a complete game now, my pitcher usually has around 150 pitches, lulz!

Lowest count I've seen is 1-1.  Which means no matter what your pitcher is throwing at least 3 pitches per batter.  Not to mention the 3-2 counts you start off with.

TitanPolaris
TitanPolaris

@jagdedge124 I still for the life of do not know why they took out the RTTS commentary last year! That was akin to Madden NFL 07's Superstar mode of not having any commentary.

Kevin-V
Kevin-V moderator staff

@redzed24  That wasn't the "minus." It quite literally says "Lackluster new features compared to previous games." That's a very different thing.

haze0986
haze0986

@chingchow48  if you havent played since 06 then your about to need medical attention for a mind fuck. mlb the show from about 09 up almost look real. ive had plenty of people see me playing and ask what channel its on thats how real the newer ones are, now that ps4 is out forget about it

TitanPolaris
TitanPolaris

@chingchow48 The Show has come along way from the PS2 version of MLB 06! That was the first year I played this game and it was right up there with MVP 05 that I have for my PC for the best baseball game at that time! MLB 13 has a more or less an easier way to get yourself into the game with it's beginner mode to ease you in and learn it's limits on sliders and it will go up and down in your skill level sort of like in Madden NFL 09's franchise mode's adaptive sliders it had. The reviewer is likely playing on either Veteran, All-Star, Legend difficulties to test how punishing the sim is like in real life baseball. So in short it is less punishing on the lower levels to insanely difficult on it's Legend mode with tweaked sliders from Operation Sports!

scottysell1
scottysell1

@haze0986 I don't think any of these players did... I wasn't sure how it worked.  Thanks for the info!

haze0986
haze0986

@Tigerbite2 @mbounce88  i play on hall of fame with pitch speed at 100, plays the perfect game of baseball, makes you a better hitter, better pitcher, overall better player. i do understand some people saying its too hard to hit but its a sim. its not easy to hit a 90 mph fastball

haze0986
haze0986

@TitanPolaris  they wanted it to seem like you were actually playing, as a player you dont hear any commentating...poor choice in my book because it made the mode stale 

haze0986
haze0986

@TitanPolaris @chingchow48  mvp 05 is still the best baseball game features wise. it had stuff in the game that these critically acclaimed games dont even bother with like stadium upgrades, custom fences, relocating im not sure about i cant remember 

MaddenBowler10
MaddenBowler10

@haze0986 @Tigerbite2 @mbounce88  Yea, I was about to say, the default settings are way too easy. I'm about to change mine to HOF and turn up the pitch speed like you did. Then again, I'm an MLB The Show vet..so I can remember how tough this game was when I first got into it.

MLB 14: The Show More Info

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  • First Released
    • PlayStation 3
    • PlayStation 4
    • PlayStation Vita
    MLB 14 The Show is a realistic baseball game that lets you feel the MLB experience with moments such as when you're called up to the majors, a sacrifice fly to left field, or crushing a walk-off homer to win it all.
    8.4
    Average User RatingOut of 30 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate MLB 14: The Show
    Developed by:
    SCEA San Diego Studios
    Published by:
    SCEE, SCEA, SCE Australia
    Genres:
    Baseball, Team-Based, Sports, Simulation
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Everyone
    All Platforms
    No Descriptors