For years, Sony San Diego has shown its dominance on the virtual diamond with its MLB: The Show series, covering every aspect of the sport of baseball. Whether you're a hardcore simulation fan or just want to slam a few balls out of the park, the series covered everything fans could ask for. Now, since 2K Sports has shut down its MLB 2K franchise, it's the only game in town – and it's about to reach a much bigger audience.
Sony announced MLB 14: The Show, which will make its debut this spring not only on the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita, but also on the PlayStation 4, sending the sport flying into a next generation. This is a huge year for the series to capitalize on complete dominance, with a number of returning – and new – features that will please both rookie and veteran baseball fans alike.
Like previous iterations of the series, MLB 14: The Show will feature a huge focus on gameplay. You'll be able to choose from a variety of options when it comes to pitching and hitting, whether you prefer old-fashioned button presses or utilizing the analog stick for more refined control. The PlayStation 4 TouchPad may also play a part in pitching decisions, as well as how you prefer to swing at the ball when you're at the plate.
MLB 13: The Show helped define a high point for the series last year, with a new easy setting that made the game a bit more comfortable for casual players, while retaining all the hardcore features for those interested in a simulation-style effort. You can expect this trend to continue in this year's game, with the return of several favorite modes, including the Home Run Derby, Seasons, Franchises and more, all of which can be played online through the PlayStation Network. So if you're up for challenging a friend to a quick bat-off – or a full-blown contest to see who can take the pennant – you can certainly do so.
In addition, if you have previous saves from prior Show games, Sony has confirmed that you'll be able to carry over your statistics into MLB 14, even if you're playing on the PlayStation 4. It's a foundation for year-to-year saves that should stay with the series for years to come – which comes as good news for true fanatics.
One notable new mode being added to MLB 14 is Quick Counts. With this mode, players can speed through games faster than ever before through generated pitch counts. They'll still feel the impact of key moments in the game, and statistics won't be affected if they choose to take such a shortcut. This is good for those who are a bit impatient when it comes to sitting through all nine innings – or more – in a Major League contest. As a result, you'll be done with a game in less than 30 minutes, which is way less than contests like this usually take.
Another defining feature for the series, the career-oriented Road To the Show, will also undergo a few touch-ups for MLB 14. A new advancement system will make it easy to move up in the ranks from second-rate batboy to dedicated Hall of Famer, although you'll still need to put some work into your performance to get there. A new player creation system also makes it simpler to implement your likeness into the game, or maybe even give yourself that muscular build you've been swearing to work on since New Year's. Finally, the pre-draft prospect showcase will give you the opportunity to impress a few talent scouts, and eventually work your way to your dream team – even if it is the Cubs. (Sorry, Chicago.)
The PlayStation 4 version of MLB 14 will have extra components missing from the other games. Not only will it feature the most advanced visuals in the series to date – complete with lifelike animations and painstakingly recreated playing fields – but it'll also take full advantage of the system's Share feature. Players will be able to share big moments with others through the push of a button, whether it's a game-winning grand slam in the bottom of the ninth, or a crucial grab at the fence. Users will also be able to browse through key plays. No word yet if Sony will implement this into some sort of community plays of the week feature, but we'd certainly love to see it happen.
More features for MLB 14 are expected to be revealed over the next few weeks, leading up to the game's release later this spring for PS3, PS4 and PS Vita. However, judging by what we've seen over the past few years, Sony has another home run on its hands. We can't wait to play the old ball game again.