Summer is just a few short months away, and that means baseball is back. Sony has held the crown for the last few years in the baseball simulation experience with their flagship exclusive franchise MLB: The Show. This year’s installment MLB 15: The Show does not disappoint. While the changes are not revolutionary, the game shows major improvements and tweaks in areas that make it the go to game for any baseball junkie.
The biggest complaint that users had from MLB 14: The Show was the online play, the game itself was nearly unplayable because of connection problems and lag. In a game heavily dependent on timing, even the slightest bit of lag could spell the difference between a Home Run and a strike out. Well, all of that has changed in MLB 15: The Show. No longer do you have to worry about lag when hitting or pitching; the player swings the bat as soon as you input the command, making it a smooth experience and never leaving you feeling cheated. It’s not perfect, though, during some games after you hit the pitch some lag could occur in which fielders freeze and then skip frames. This could cause you to have some problems on the base paths, as you try to figure out if the ball was caught, or if you can stretch a single into a double. Luckily, it’s not game breaking and happens few and far between, and only when the opponent is fielding.
While there are no game changing improvements to this iteration of MLB: The Show, there are quite a few little improvements and additions to make it worth a try. There is a new hitting option called Directional Hitting that takes over for the Timing hitting mode of previous iterations of MLB: The Show. In this mode, the left stick helps influence where you want the ball to go. The direction that you hold the left stick prior to contact is where your hitter will try to take the ball. If you want to pull the ball left, hold the left stick to the desired direction prior to swinging. If you have a runner on third with less than two outs, hold up on the left stick before contact and influence a fly ball for a sacrifice fly. If you don’t move the left stick at all it will revert to the timing based hitting of previous iterations. This is a great batting mode for situational hitting and a nice addition to the previous timing mode.
Another addition is the introduction of licensed equipment. This equipment is not only for aesthetic purposes, but can be used to boost your Road to the Show player and your Diamond Dynasty created player’s stats. Everything from Louisville Slugger bats, Rawlings gloves, and Nike cleats are available. These equipment types are rewarded to the player through card rewards that are given as you play, regardless of the game mode. These card rewards include not just equipment, but also reward sponsorships and MLB players for the Diamond Dynasty mode.
The addition of card rewards, regardless of what game mode you are playing is a huge boost to Diamond Dynasty, MLB: The Show’s “ultimate team” game mode. No longer do you have to force yourself to play with a sub-par team to improve. Now you can play a regular Franchise game and be rewarded after completion with a card to help improve your Diamond Dynasty team. If you are not interested in Diamond Dynasty you can sell your card on the community market for virtual coins.
These coins can then be used to buy equipment for your Road to the Show character or sponsorships for your Franchise team. Diamond Dynasty no longer revolves around you creating a team of created players, but rather allows you to create a dream team of MLB players, very similar to Fifa and Madden Ultimate Team. They also took away contracts from your players allowing you to keep your MLB players and play with them for as long as you want. Without new cards being implemented, though, it leads to the question of how long will it take until everyone has roughly the same-stacked lineup?
Other small changes to MLB 15: The Show include the addition of inside the show radio show, improved visuals, 30 MLB Legends, and Road to the Show save transfers. The Inside the Show radio broadcast alerts the user of all the activity occurring across the league including: trades, scores, and injuries in both Franchise and Road to the Show modes. The look of the game is once again breath taking, everything from the flags waving in the wind, to the fans holding up signs. Thirty legends are added to the roster and can be unlocked in both Diamond Dynasty and Franchise modes.
While they are not necessarily the best players in MLB history there are a ton of great players and household names from diverse time periods, some notable legends include Ted Williams, Yogi Berra, Ernie Banks, and Nolan Ryan. And for those of you that have played MLB 14: The Show, and started a Road to the Show career, you can transfer that save file and continue where you left off in MLB 15: The Show.
Everything in MLB 15: The Show is improved. The improvements may not be huge, but they are definitely welcomed and make MLB 15: The Show the best baseball simulator out there. If you have never liked the gameplay or presentation of the MLB: The Show franchise, the subtile changes in MLB 15: The Show will not change your mind. But if you love this franchise or baseball and own a Playstation console, this is a must buy.