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Late last month, Kotaku posted the first new information on MLB 14: The Show that we have received in months. The story contains some PlayStation 3 gameplay footage and author’s notes from a source in Taiwan.
Sony’s MLB franchise has been the pillar of baseball gaming for almost a decade. It was one of the main reasons I chose to buy the PlayStation 4. It pioneered much of the career mode features that are now prevalent in modern games (players control only his or her player and have no control over roster changes beyond asking for a trade or contract, and games are simulated until the player enters the action). Every year around this time, I start getting pumped for a new edition to the family.
However, this year I am pretty worried. I have seen a few red flags coming up around the franchise, so here are my five reasons to worry about MLB 14: The Show.
It is February, and there is no confirmed release date
[Editor’s note: As of last week, release dates have been announced as April 1 for the PS3 and PlayStation Vita versions and sometime in May for PS4. This article was originally posted in early February.] As Kotaku and many others have indicated, MLB 14 has no confirmed release date. Traditionally, the series has adhered to a very strict release schedule that coincides nicely with the beginning of the actual MLB’s Spring Training. I have set my calendar to the second Tuesday of March for about six years now. January and February are the Dark Ages for each year’s video game market, and I have always viewed the The Show as the first sunlight of video game spring.
That isn’t going to happen this year. While we have nothing from Sony on the matter, all major retailers had previously listed the release date as April 1. However, GameFly and Target have recently amended that date to April 15. GameStop and Walmart are sticking to the April 1 date while Amazon lists it as December 31, 2014 (go home, Amazon — you’re drunk). Some retailers indicate that the PS3 and PS Vita versions will be available a few weeks before the PS4 version, and others do not.
Basically, nobody knows anything. Sony is making sure of that. Gamers and journalists are knocking at Sony’s door. We know it’s home. It just isn’t answering.
One can’t help but wonder if there are problems in development.
New system, new bugs
The transition to a new generation has not been seamless for some of the big-budget franchises like Call of Duty, Battlefield, and NBA 2K. Framerate, resolution issues, and network difficulties have plagued a lot of the shiny new toys we all so eagerly awaited. Sony has had the luxury of having a few extra months to iron out any possible kinks with MLB 14 — releasing a game five-ish months after launch is much less stressful.
But I still can’t help but think that there will be more than the usual amount of bugs for this version of The Show. The game is normally pretty clean, but it has remained largely unchanged for years now. The presentation, game modes, and layout are virtually identical from Show to Show. The developer typically just spruces up the mechanics and graphics a bit, changes the A.I. a little to make it more impossible to hit (see my reason No. 5), and updates the rosters.
If the developer adheres to the lofty PS Blog announcement‘s promises, this will all change. The next-gen versions of Madden, FIFA, and NBA 2K all overhauled their game modes and presentation for the PS4 (with very mixed results). I imagine The Show will do the same. Couple that with all of the amazing new graphics promised in the video below, and I could see some serious issues arising (but I am also super excited).
Sony has no competition, and it knows it
2K Games’ MLB 2K series was not renewed for 2014. As such, The Show will be running virtually unopposed this campaign season although a Green Party candidate has emerged in the MLB-backed R.B.I. Baseball reboot.
This is a switch-hitting development if you catch my drift. It can go either way from here.
The NBA 2K series has done marvelous things as the only major basketball franchise. I think the latest game was 2K’s only slight misstep in a decade or so of dominance. Even so, 2K crushed Electronic Art’s NBA Live reboot for the millionth time. The monopoly has been good for basketball games.
On the other side of that batter’s box, we have the Madden series. After its developers secured the exclusivity rights to NFL players, coaches, and stadiums, Madden NFL crippled its main source of competition: the ESPN NFL 2K franchise. With that out of the way, EA proceeded to release shabby Madden games with no fear of financial losses.
Which way will the now competition-less MLB 14: The Show go? It’s hard to say.
‘We can’t wait to share more information about the game’s visuals and new modes in the coming months’
I am pretty sure you can, actually.
It has been three months to the day since that phrase concluded the PS Blog announcement, and we haven’t heard anything.
What about the all-new Quick Counts option? How is that going to work? Is it only for Franchise mode, or can it be used on my Road to the Show player?
How about the new creation tools, advancement system, and predraft showcase? I think these are all necessary and fascinating upgrades. Surely someone can explain them. We don’t even need to see them in action. Things like this can be explained with words. Please, sir, can I have some more information?
I can almost guarantee that we still won’t be able to hit the f$%*ing ball.
I apologize, but this is a sensitive subject for me. Maybe it’s just me, but the last few The Show games have had impossibly difficult hitting mechanics. I find that even when I ignore all other attribute upgrades in favor of the offensive ones, I still can’t hit more than .250 with 20 homers on the harder difficulties. I have an SS for the Blue Jays that has been a 99 overall for three seasons, but if I crank the difficulty and don’t mess with the sliders, he hits like the Astros.
This hasn’t stopped me from loving the franchise, and I believe that hitting should be difficult. Mark McGwire once said that hitting a baseball is the most difficult thing to do in all of sports, and I agree with him. The reaction time and coordination required is truly remarkable.
However, I still can’t help but be a little salty about how I can smash face in every other sports game but can’t hit the ball farther than 350 feet in The Show despite a 90 in the power rating.
I really love the MLB: The Show games. I come off a little coarse because I think we have all been more than patient, but the game will probably rule. I just need to hear something concrete about it to help ease my worried mind.
If I don’t hear anything by March, I am donning an old baseball uniform and going down to San Diego to spend my days and nights camped outside the studio. I will hold a sign that will either say, “We are ready” or “We are mad as hell, and we aren’t going to take it anymore!”. I am not sure which, but I will cross that bridge when I come to it.
Originally posted to Corrupted Cartridge.