It’s no secret that I love baseball. Some, including my wife, would say I’m obsessed with it. It’s a sport of timing and patience that’s sometimes about individual achievement, but mostly is about team work. It’s a sport that you can play from a young age, but to make it to the big stage, requires a God given talent and a skillset like no other. Thankfully, for those of us without any serious baseball talent, Sony’s development team at San Diego Studios has taken their award winning, flagship sports franchise to the next level. Welcome to the next generation of MLB: The Show.
I was lucky enough to also snag the review copies for both the PS3 and the PS Vita version of the game last month and reviewed them (8/10). The PS4 version of the game is identical to the PS3 version when it comes to the gameplay, mechanics, and game options but is a world apart when it comes to graphics, player detail, stadium detail, and any other detail you can think of. This is no minor difference, rather it is a major upgrade to the look and feel of the game. Don’t get me wrong here, the PS3 version of the game looks and plays great and is no slouch when it comes to detail, but switching over to the PS4 is like going from DVD to Blu-ray when watching a movie.
The first thing you’ll want to do is head to your favorite team’s stadium and take a look around. Jump into an exhibition game, throw a pitch, and then go into replay mode. As you move around the park, you’ll see details that have never been in a baseball game like this before. The Green Monster at Fenway looks so real, you may want to grab a sharpie and sign your TV. Monument Park in the outfield in the Bronx is also on full display and is rendered with such detail that I think the Babe would be proud of it.
Player detail is also taken to the next level, with renders that make the players easily recognizable not only by looking at their face, but by looking at their animations as well. The animations are something that have been around for a couple of years, but the new level of detail really improves on the overall concept and captures the players in ways that truly enhance the game.
Zooming on a player’s face shows what the developers have been able to do to make beards and facial hair seem more realistic. The only drawback is that the hair must be heavily coated in some sort of hair gel because it has little to no movement at all. While beards may tend to be stiff, flowing locks of hair should have some movement, but not so much here. One player’s helmet flew off as he slid into second base and he almost looked like he had porcupine hair. While the helmet actually leaving his head was pretty cool, and his slide did a great job of breaking up a double play and sent the short stop tumbling, his hair looked like he could have went head first and spiked the infielder.
Another thing that could use some work are the player’s eyes. While most look OK, if the player has a darker complexion their eyes pop with a whiteness that is too bright. This gives the impression of the player wearing some sort of guyliner and can be a little odd when first witnessed. Maybe it’s just the lack of eyelashes that creates this oddity. These are minor details, and really the game is the best looking sports game on the market, hands down. If an NFL or UFC game can hit the mark set by San Diego Studios, we are in for some seriously awesome looking games.
I’ve been playing the game with my Road to the Show guys (a starting pitcher for the Cubs and a center fielder for the Braves) since I got my PS3/PSV copies of the game last month and both have progressed considerably since their Minor League debuts. Lucky for me The Show allows me to copy my game saves to the cloud and transfer them over to the PS4 version of the game. I did start a third RTTS player on the PS4 just to see if there were any differences in the process and there wasn’t, but it worked so well on the PS3 that no changes were needed anyway.
Another great feature that came with The Show for the PS3 that also carries over for the PS4 is the Universal Profile. As you play through the game and earn experience points and Stubs for doing awesome things in the game, your profile is updated regardless if you are on the PS3 or the PS4. It also keeps track of your tendencies while playing the game and can use that data in online franchise mode which also carries over between the PS3 and PS4. If you have an online match set-up with someone and something happens and you can’t make it, the CPU will use your profile data to create as close to a real life match up as possible.
While the PS Vita version of the game is great for when you are out and about and have time to kill, if you want to get in some game time at home with the PS4, and the TV is being used by someone else, remote play works great with The Show for the PS4. I found that my fingers had a tendency to hit the back panel though, which is used for R2, R3, L2, and L3 so I had to hold the Vita a little more carefully so as not to inadvertently do something I didn’t want to do. Took a little practice, but it works great, albeit a little smaller than my TV. The graphics are a definite improvement over the PS Vita version while playing on the small screen and I actually had someone ask, “When did MLB.TV come to the Vita?”
While have always enjoyed making my march to the majors, there is another mode that I try to jump into at least once a day and that is The Show Live. Baseball is a marathon of a season and each and every game, right down to the proper line-up and pitching match-up, is replicated daily and each game can be played in this mode. You can also use this screen to check real game times, live scores, and live situations. You can exit out of the mode and re-enter to refresh the games if you want to use it as a real time score tracker. Pretty nifty and the mode is available for the PS3, the PS Vita and the PS4.
If you are a fan of baseball, and own a PS4, you HAVE to own this game. Period