Thursday, 8 May 2014

MLB 14: on PlayStation 4

The first version of a sports game on a brand new console is much like the first game in a brand new stadium : The place looks great , but administration may not yet have worked out the kinks at the ticket product lines or the concession stands . 

"MLB 14 : The Show" ( Sony , for the PlayStation 4 , $59 .99 ) is absolutely no exception . In the most recent upgrade of the outstanding baseball franchise , the players appear more realistic than ever before , and their personalized animations bring them ever personal to the athletes you observe at the ballpark . Sony's San Diego Studio in addition has reconditioned each and every major league stadium , from Boston's venerable Fenway Local park to Miami's flamboyant 2-year-old Marlins Park . 

The most observable flaws are some agonizing loading times , especially when starting a new game or switching between totally different play modes . And there are a few graphical stutters that destroy the generally nicely-crafted impression of watching a TV broadcast . 

Other-wise , most of the new functions in the PS4 version of "MLB 14" are the same as those released a few months ago on the PS3 edition . The most radical revision is "Quick Counts ," wherein each at-bat begins a few pitches in . It's a bit of a gamble , since your batter can just as likely come to the plate with a 3-0 advantage or a 0-2 disadvantage . Purists will certainly grumble , but it's helpful if you have just 30 minutes or so to squeeze in a game title . 

The emphasize , as always with this series , is the absorbing "Road to the Show ." You create a player on your own , but this year you can design your guy on a real-life major leaguer . My doppelganger , the scrappy second baseman Louie Kesten , is based on young Washington Nationals infielder Anthony Rendon . Unfortunately , I'm still struggling to make an impression on the Philadelphia Phillies' AA farm team , the Reading Fightin' Phils . 

Sony has redesigned some of the player working out and performance assessment in RTTS , but the worthiness remains . You see only your character's at-bats and fielding chances , so the focus is less on winning the game than on making sure he contributes positively . A game only takes five minutes , so you could whip through an entire season in a day . 

"MLB 14" will take that single-player focus and creates it to other game modes as well . A new "Player Lock" function allows you to pick any kind of big leaguer and play multiple different seasons as just that guy . Is fiery Los Angeles Dodgers phenom Yasiel Puig a flash in the pan or a legend in the making ? Player Lock lets you determine his future . 

If you're looking for a really brief game , you should check out the new "Community Challenges ." Every challenge plops you into a pivotal game situation — say , coming to bat with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th . You can also create your own complexities and present them to other online participants . 

"MLB 14" doesn't considerably reinvent the series for the PS4 , and if you've previously bought the PS3 model , you aren't missing much if you don't update . It still has so much packed into it that it should satisfy anyone , from casual gamers looking for a quick contest to fantasy geeks who want to assemble entire leagues from scratch . It remains one of the finest sports games on the market , and an essential purchase for baseball fans . 3 stars out of 4 .

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