MLB 14: The Show PS4 Review: A grand slam
It’s been over a month since MLB 14: The Show first stepped up to the plate for PS3 and Vita. Though the Vita version had its issues, the PS3 version was another solid installment of the annual baseball franchise.
For anyone who has played past installments, MLB 14: The Show is basically more of the same (which is a good thing) with a few features, like Quick Counts and Player Lock, largely aimed at speeding up the pace of the game. Since these new features are present in all versions of the game, I’ll reference anyone looking for specifics to read my PS3 review, as it's basically the same on PlayStation 4.
So if gameplay is largely the same across PS3 and PS4, does upgrading to the next-gen version really make a difference? Honestly, that depends on what you're looking for.
If graphics are what is important to you, then yes. Though the PS3 version looks fantastic, the PS4 version is a clear upgrade graphically. All 30 stadiums have been completely rebuilt from the ground up, with textures now four times what they were last-gen. And each scene’s poly count has jumped from about 150,000 polys to over a million, according to Sony. The numbers sound impressive enough, but seeing these cathedrals on the big screen is a sight to behold.
Adding to the realism of each stadium are improved crowds. No longer are the stands filled with a mishmosh of multicolored pixels. Spectators are now properly defined. Though you’ll probably be focused more on action of the game, a more realistic crowd definitely adds to the immersion of the game. And with all crowd audio having been completely re-recorded in high definition, it finally feels like you’re playing in front of thousands of people instead of thousands of pixels.
Actual player models, while improved, still all largely resemble one another. As you’ve probably already seen in previous screenshots the big improvement here is with player hair. Unlike the PS3 version which is a big smudge, each strand of hair on a player’s face can be seen. It may not react the physics of the game, but it’s a noticeable improvement.
Also adding to the overall game presentation are hundreds of new animations and all-new Intro fly-ins exclusive to the PlayStation 4 version. Simply put, MLB 14: The Show on PS4 both looks and sounds better than any other version -- hands-down.
Unfortunately, all of these graphical improvements don’t come without some sacrifices. Frame rate issues are definitely present and noticeable during the game, but mostly during the cinematic broadcast portions, like when a player is stepping up to the plate. I didn’t notice any stuttering during an actual play which is what’s most important, but the dynamic camera does sometimes result in some awkward angles when fielding or judging the ball. Thankfully all settings in MLB 14: The Show can be changed to your liking.
The game also has unusually long load times. I could grow a beard as full Johnny Gomes' in the time it takes to actually load and enter an individual game. And that’s not including the lengthy install of the game on PS4. Sony may have sped up the pace of playing a game, but the time it takes to load is painfully long.
Overall, MLB 14: The Show’s grand PS4 debut is about what you’d expect. It’s an improvement over the last-gen version, but not without some technical hiccups. Slow load times and sometimes stuttering frame rates won’t ruin your experience -- as MLB 14: The Show is still the best game available on the market -- but it’s something I’d like to see improved on in next year’s version.
If you are a baseball fan and own a PS4, then MLB 14: The Show is definitely worth the purchase. Whether or not upgrading is worth it all depends on if you care about graphics. It’s an improvement, but it’s not like the game is ugly on the PS3 either. All I can say for certain is that if MLB 14: The Show was a home run on PS3, then it’s a grand slam on the PS4.