Baseball is a funny sport. Yes, it is about two teams trying to score more runs than the other in order to win, but not so much in the same vein as other sports, like football, basketball or hockey. In those sports, the two teams start off the same and must try to go to the opponents end and score baskets/goals. In baseball, one man throws a ball, while his opponent hits it and runs, while the other team tries to catch it and knock him out. As entertaining as it is to watch as a sport, that entertainment factor does not always translate into a video game.
MLB 14: The Show is like playing two mini games. You are either pitching or batting, pressing no more than two buttons at most. You do have control over your batter should he hit a successful swing. When he runs, which you don’t control, you can either tell him to wait at the base or keep going. It’s not a very entertaining mechanic to a game but there isn’t much else you can do when the sport is very compact in itself. The difference between this and FIFA, Madden, NBA 2K and such is that the latter feel a lot more competitive than the MLB. You don’t just press the X/A button to pass and the O/B button to shoot. There are many, many intricate ways to play and the fact that almost every game will be very different from the last is exciting – and it’s that factor that will keep you wanting to play more. MLB seems very, very linear with it’s gameplay – and very repetitive.
The game looks good though. The players, although not as good as some other sports games, can still stand on their own merits. The stadiums and fields are nice to look at, but the crowd suffers and dents the overall presentation. It is only a matter of time before developers invest some more time into the crowd – it’s a big problem that really affects the immersion. Crowd aside, the player models are done very well and, overall, the game definitely feels fluid when playing matches -apart from running, when Players look like they are jogging most of the time, rather than sprinting.
There are several modes to keep you interested: the beloved Road To The Show is back and lets you focus on one player specifically, while the other main mode, Franchise Mode, allows you to take control of a team and work them up to the top. While these modes do add more replay value to the game, it doesn’t help the matches when they are being played – every game seems so repetitive and, it’s all down to the in-game mechanics that make it seem like you are playing Mario Party mini-games.
It’s hard to become hooked on a game, or game modes for this matter, when everything seems to be like clockwork, and the sad part is it isn’t the game’s fault – it’s the actual matches. Although the modes are good in their own respect, playing the matches is the most important aspect of it all. If the matches don’t play well, it affects the whole mode.
While I do feel MLB is above average in most areas, I feel it is let down entirely by boring gameplay, which completely ruins the general mood and feel. Great modes, decent graphics, the licenses – although they are all there, playing MLB 14 feels like going through the motions over and over again.
VERDICT: MLB 14: The Show will more than likely go down well with fans of the series and big fans of baseball, but for others, not so much. When your mates come over for a few games, you won’t be sticking this on anytime soon.
AVERAGE. The epitome of a 50/50 game, this title will be unspectacular but inoffensive, charmless but amiable. We aren’t condemning a game by scoring it a 5, but we certainly aren’t championing it, either.
Review code provided by publisher.