MLB 14 The Show Hands-On Report

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MLB 14 The Show is coming, finally! Unlike previous years, I didn’t make the trip to San Diego in January, and I’ve been dying to get the ball rolling with coverage.

First, check the interview out, because Ramone is just too suave to not watch on the Internet!

As you heard from Mr. Russell, one of the things that they hear quite often is that MLB The Show, and the game of baseball itself, takes too long to get through. The average time to finish a full game in MLB The Show is about an hour. Obviously, if you play Road to the Show, that’s not really a problem since you can usually get through a game in around 9 minutes. The team in San Diego has worked on making it so you can do the same thing in the other modes, and they’ve finally come up with a pretty ingenious solution, “Quick Counts”. This will allow you to get through a full game in roughly 15-30 minutes now depending on your play style.

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So what “Quick Counts” does is generate random pitch counts for every at bat, which means that you’ll never come to bat with a 0-0 count. This isn’t an arcade mode or anything of the sort, it just eliminates getting through a full count from beginning to end, and after playing a half inning, I’m hooked. It didn’t help that my first batter hit a stand-up triple into deep center field with no outs. As you hear in the video, yeah, I buckled under the pressure and didn’t bring him in. It’s a lot of fun, and I can see even the die-hard fan use this feature at least occasionally. The algorithm itself isn’t just simply random, it’s based on a ton of data that they’ve collected from real baseball stats, and it even takes into account if the specific batter or pitcher is better than average in that specific role.

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The next feature they’ve added to speed things along is something called “Player Lock”, which essentially brings what you’re used to in Road to the Show to the other modes of the game. Using this feature, you choose to play as a single player from the roster, and like in RttS, you can choose to only handle the specific plays that your chosen player is involved in. Even better is that you can toggle this feature on and off, so now you can get through the early innings quickly, but if the game gets close, you can turn the feature off so you have full control over your team again, allowing you to fight for the win. On top of that, you’ll still be able to make all Manager decisions throughout the game (which you can’t actually do in RttS since you only play as a single player in that mode.)

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Another change affects the overall presentation. First, they’ve added a lot more “conversational” moments between Matt Vasgersion and Eric Karros in an attempt to make it feel even more like a real broadcast. Unlike the previous games in the series though, once they stop talking, the game will continue normal play instead of just cycling through different scenes. Now you won’t sit around waiting for the game to kick back in, but at the same time, what you encounter will be more immersive, which is always good.

How about the new trailer for PS3?:

All major features are present in all three versions this year (obviously, the presentation features will be lighter on the Vita version as usual.) Cloud saves will also work across all three platforms, which is quite awesome. Also, something that has been asked for in what seems like forever, when MLB 15 The Show comes out next year, you’ll be able to transfer your save file to the new version and simply continue on, and that’s not all. If you stay with the PS3 version this year, and wait until MLB 15 The Show to upgrade to PS4, that save will transfer as well. This makes MLB The Show the only sports franchise in video games to offer a feature like this, and it is HUGE!

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Some miscellaneous information on the PS4 version of the game:

  • Hair (including facial) is now fully rendered instead of using flat texture/normal map (they can draw about 40,000 individual hairs per player).
  • Lighting is now fully dynamic, and uses some new technology like sub-surface scattering. So now instead of seeing definitive borders between light and shadow on a player (for example), you can now see that light actually bleeds across the player, even showing a slight reflection/halo effect on sharper angles like the nose. They’re also using sub-dermal light diffusion, so the light that hits the skin actually shows a slight transparency (we’ve seen this recently in Tomb Raider Definitive Edition).
  • Grass on the field is now rendered down to individual blades of grass, and the blades are actually dynamically lit as well. When you zoom-in to where the grass borders the sand in the infield, you can actually see specific shadows for the blades of grass. It’s something many probably wouldn’t notice, but that’s the level of detail that we’ve come to expect in The Show.
  • Objects like scoreboards and signs are now fully built-out instead of being flat textures. So you’ll see actual backings on signs and other objects.
  • All 30 stadiums have been rebuilt from the ground-up, nothing has been ported from the previous versions.
  • Another tidbit about the grass, it actually displaces when a foot hits a spot, or when the ball rolls or lays on the grass. From a physics standpoint, a lot of those behaviors would happen, but you wouldn’t see it visually. The ball will actually act as it should as it rolls across the grass, as it’s spinning, and displacing the grass, the ball can sometimes get ahead of itself and actually hop-up because it’s hitting the blades of grass instead of rolling through. You’ll also see grass clippings flying up when a player runs through with his cleats.
  • Leather actually looks like real leather now, with the fielding gloves and the batting gloves, which now show that fuzziness when the batting glove is new.
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  • An example shown is the old score wall at Fenway in left field (bottom of the Green Monster). Historically it’s been a pretty flat texture, but in the PS4 version, all of the old, metal plates are present, beaten over the years by a myriad of impacts from baseballs. They’re true 3D objects now, and yes, all scoreboards and walls are fully functional.
  • The crowds in the PS3 version were comprised of about 42 different models, so you will still see some copies out there. Now, since the PS4 has much more power, the crowd is made up of over 1,000 unique models. Each crowd model is made up of the same polygon count of a baseball player in the PS3 version of the game (and they’ve even included kids into the crowd now).
  • Crowd members will now catch foul balls and be able to reach over and grab fouls that roll by. They’ll also hold signs up, and those signs will be contextual. So if a player starts heating-up, you’ll probably see some fans rooting him on in this manner. Furthermore (this is for the Operation Sports crew) the Pitcher can now pick up the rosin bag and throw it back down.
  • Finally, they’ve added Bat & Ball boys and girls.
  • All of the crowd audio and chants have been re-recorded in High Quality.
  • All reflection maps on things like the helmets and sunglasses are all rendered in realtime now.

Release Dates: (yes, I said DATES)
PS3/PS Vita – April 1st (to be closer to the start of the actual MLB Season)
PS4 – “May” (so not too long of a wait)

All-in-all we’re looking to get a pretty great game again this year. The PS3/Vita versions definitely hold-up well (two people that walked into the session actually thought the PS3 version was the PS4). The new changes and additions to speed the game up are very effective. Also, the new cameras, overall, are very well done and a welcome change in a couple of key areas.

Keep your eyes here and on our YouTube channel over the upcoming weeks for even more coverage of MLB 14 The Show for all three platforms. Let’s PLAY BALL!

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Written by Glenn Percival

Glenn Percival

Just a guy that loves games, movies, Golf, Football, and Baseball.

Podcast Co-Host, Editor-in-Chief, Video Producer, and whipping-boy

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  • Pingback: PS Nation – MLB 14 The Show Hands-On Report (PS3/PS4) | sport

  • HustlinOwl

    Looking good Glenn thanks, but May is going to be a long wait

  • ChazzH69

    When I think of an upgrade to next-gen, this is how it should be done. To be able to carry over your save to the following year is brilliant

  • MJC

    I can’t wait for the PS4 version, loving all the details. I’ll probably buy the Vita version to hold me over.

  • http://psnation.org Glenn Percival

    Why do you feel it necessary to come here and bitch about this? Nice spelling too.

    • Mike Query

      Clearly just trolling. No human being on earth could ever think 2k was better than the show. Plus, look at the name and spelling, Id bet he’s about 12.

      • Losyak

        It’s true, I’ve checked: none

  • OsAndRavensFan1

    There are more things than this that I’d would like to see first, but I would really love to see a ballpark builder in The Show, a la, MVP NCAA Baseball 06. It was so much fun creating insane dimensions, low/high walls. With UGC being a major part of games now, it would be fun to download other people’s ballparks. Maybe even have created teams that could play in them.

  • John Davidson

    Is it weird that they don’t really seem to be saying all that much (or anything?) about gameplay, physics or animation on either platform – but specifically on PS4? Plenty about lighting and visuals/sound upgrades but not much else. Hopefully there are more details to come on that side of things…

  • Glenn Wells

    Now this is what im talking bout. A true next gen game. And one more reason to be proud of your system

  • ResponsibleIndividual

    someone remind me again why you would buy an xbone

    • Losyak

      Cuz kinect nd callofduty and titnfall and liive!!

      • Curahee OS

        PS has Move, COD, Uncharted and Live is free!

        • Glenn Wells

          thats not entirely true. online is free on the ps3 but not on the 4

          • lesscan

            And its not free on any XBOX console