MLB 14 The Show PS Vita Review: Well, they accurately portrayed the Mets
Baseball is the toughest game to play. Not only do you have to have incredible hand-eye coordination, but you have to be smart. Pete Rose once described it by saying, "You have a round ball and a round bat, and you got to hit it square." Wrap your head around that. It's not an easy feat to make a baseball video game that can capture all of the nuances of America's Pastime, but SCE San Diego Studio has done a remarkable job over the years -- which I why it's hard for me to not be completely satisfied with their showing on the PS Vita.
After hearing rave reviews about the PS3 version of MLB 14: The Show, and seeing what they have in store for for the PlayStation 4 version, the Vita version feels a bit phoned in. I've played countless games, and during my play time, I've encountered numerous bugs, wrong statistics, flaws with new features, and problems that the game suffers from when being ported over to the Vita. That said, it's baseball, it's The Show, and I still enjoy it. What can I say, I'm a Mets fan; I'm used to disappointment.
First off, MLB 14: The Show on the Vita looks pretty good, all things considered. There's low quality textures and models on the crowd -- which is to be expected -- but stadiums look great and player models are above average, as well. The animations aren't anything different than what you've seen in past iterations of the show, but they run smooth on the Vita. But The Show relies a little bit too much on said animations. While it adds to baseball authenticity a bit, I can't help but feel that gameplay suffers and routine plays made into anything but. Also, while player models and jerseys look fine in the field or in presentation scenes, once a player is at bat, their chest and stomach swell out and it looks like every player is wearing two bullet proof vests underneath their jersey. I knew Desean Jackson had a gang member issue, but I wasn't aware of any Major League Baseball players sporting the 50 Cent look.
Gameplay also takes a step back on the Vita from the console version. Baseball is a sport that requires pinpoint accuracy, and it's hard to accomplish that using what the Vita supplies. Now, the game is totally playable and I plan on playing multiple seasons with everyone's favorite loveable losers, the Mets, but the game can be downright frustrating. The default settings for a game -- such as the dynamic fielding camera angle -- isn't a good fit for fielding outfield hits on the Vita screen. Switching to the medium view was much better. Before switching, numerous times my outfielder would misplay a ball due to poor positioning I originally thought was fine due to a poor camera angle.
Also, can we just do away with Pulse Pitching? It's awful. It needs to go the way of the vision cone/stick from Madden. Get rid of it. It's never accurate, and it's near impossible to get a perfect pitch. I'm sorry, but a pitcher like Clayton Kershaw shouldn't struggle mightily with the location of his pitches. It makes for a frustrating experience and just isn't very realistic. I prefer meter pitching, so I switched to that. Getting a perfect pitch isn't automatically where you want it every time; there's still variety to location.
With all that said, I have to commend MLB 14: The Show for the sheer number of options given to the player in terms of how they want the game to play. Don't like the zone hitting? Change it to analog hitting or timing. The world is your oyster.
The newest feature being touted is Quick Counts, allowing you to play full games faster by generating a random balls-strikes count for each at-bat. It's great in the sense that I see a lot of potential for it and I'm flying through games, but I don't think it's working how it should. While I've played a majority of my games with the Mets, The amount of counts that have started me pitching with a 2-0, 3-`1 or full count is just ridiculous. It really hampers what the player can do on the mound. Matt Harvey should not go four straight batters at a 3-2 count when he's on full rest and facing the Astros. Name one player on the Astros... I bet you can't. He's Matt freaking Harvey. He's really good and pounds the strike zone to get ahead in counts. Here, he's pitching like he is a month removed from Tommy John surgery. Queue Mets fans' tears.
At the plate, it seems like my players are always down 0-2 to start an at-bat, but looking at the Met's line-up, that's pretty accurate; no complaints there. My complaining aside, I love the Quick Counts feature and have actually drawn more walks and walked more batters when pitching, making for more realistic statistics and gameplay. But you know what sucks about statistics? When they're recorded wrong. I had an 11-pitch at bat as a pitcher where Freddie Freeman kept fouling off whatever I threw at him. Each foul ball was counted in my pitch count as a ball, not a strike. Every ball was a strike and every strike was a ball. It was reversed. As a huge baseball fan, I can't express my displeasure at this mess-up enough. It's a huge oversight by the number one -- scratch that -- only baseball sim game on the market. Another thing that bugs me with Quick Count is that it makes getting pitchers into face a batter before a count gets generated more difficult. In my mind, I think that putting in a fresh, dominant relief pitcher is more likely to yield a starting count in my favor. Except that doesn't happen, and I end up baffled by the logic that goes into creating counts. It truly is random.
Everything else you could want is there -- Road to the Show, Homerun Derby, Franchise/Dynasty, Season, and full roster control of your major league and minor league rosters, complete with all of the intricate roster moves.
I like the MLB 14: The Show for the Vita because I'm a baseball nut and it allows me to lead my Mets to the world series while traveling and on-the-go. But the game can be frustrating at times. While you can combat most of those frustrations by messing around with the settings, some bugs (like having the experience gained notification pop up after the inning and stay in place the rest of the game) and oversights are things you can't do anything about.
All that said, I recommend this to any baseball fan with a Vita. Despite my issues with the game, I can't stop playing it. I have to keep trying to turn the Mets into a winner. If you can overlook the problems like I have, you can have a lot of fun, and it can fill the baseball video game void in your life until the PlayStation 4 version comes out.