With its graphical splendor lighting up your retinas, it’d be easy to miss all the refinements being packed into this year’s version of MLB ’14: The Show on PS4. But it would be a shame if you did, because the small handful of new features we’ve seen so far look really promising, especially if you’re a big baseball fan with a small window of free time to swing lumber with.
So. Many. Hairs.
First up is Quick Counts, which is designed to significantly shorten at-bat times. Using pitching and batting data from the last few years, the first three pitches of every at-bat are simulated, so you take over at a key point late in the count. The folks at San Diego Studio insist this isn’t an arcade easy mode though, just a way to get straight to the pivotal moments of every pitcher/batter duel. While it does apparently affect the occurrences of Ks and walks, the resulting scores have remained in-line with real-world norms.
TV-style presentation has been a real strong point for the franchise over the last few years, but some subtle tweaking has been done here too. Lots of new conversation points have been added to the already-stellar commentary, but in those rare instances where you get dead air, the camera jumps right back to gameplay instead of lingering. The cherry on top is the new Player Lock, which allows you to assume control of a single ballplayer, and play only the plays they take part in a la Road to the Show, except you can do it any mode. All this stuff is optional of course, so you can still settle in for the fully authentic experience The Show usually delivers if you’d like, but it’s nice to know that if life is only affording you 15 minutes to play, you can still get a full game in.
The grassiest grass.
These are but a few of around 50 new features and refinements you’ll see in both the PS3 and PS4 versions of MLB ‘14. Another sweet addition that fans have been clamoring for is the ability to transfer save data from year to year. While last year’s data won’t import into this year’s game, everything you achieve this time around will stay with you going forward, even if you switch from PS3 to PS4. WHat’s also impressive, is that unlike some other sports franchises, the inaugural year on a new system won’t mean taking a huge step back in content. The PS4 version of MLB ‘14 the show will have complete, 100% feature parity with its PS3 counterpart, so you’ll get the very same comprehensive baseball sim that you’ve come to expect.
Except a lot prettier. One look at these screenshots should be all the convincing you need. Every single stadium has been rebuilt from the ground up, and so has the entire lighting engine. Gone are the days of generic hair decals; some players feature thousands of individually modeled hairs. Even the crowd has seen a huge boost in detail. Each crowd member has a higher poly count than the actual players in the PS3 version, and with all that extra RAM, they’ve pushed the number of different faces from 48 to 300. By next year, they’ll have added another zero to the end of that figure. The days of creepy families of octuplets watching as you swing for the fences are numbered.
Check the reflections in Pedroia's shades.
Even with all the eye candy, San Diego Studio is still targeting native 1080P at 60fps. The dev team is still optimizing so that could change, but they feel confident they can hit it by launch day, which will be April 1st for the PS3 version, followed by a May release on PS4. Be sure to check back for more info about MLB ‘14: The Show’s new features in the coming months