Game Review: MLB The Show (PS Vita)
America’s favorite pastime (baseball for you non-Americans) is in full swing with the All-Star break just about a month away. It’s time for my annual installment of baseball gaming review. If you have been following our videogame posts, then this is no surprise that I have been modeling a character after myself and helping the struggling Kansas City Royals to World Series victory. It started with MLB 2K11, MLB 2K12, and MLB 2K13; all on the Xbox 360. This year, things are a little different. I tried my luck with MLB 14: The Show on Playstation Vita. They say good things come in small packages. I say, not always.
One of my major complaints about the Xbox titles was there was very little innovation from year to year with 2013 being the worst ever…basically a cut/paste from 2012. Even the glitches were the same. It was very disappointing, but since I spent money on it, I took myself and the Royals to the title and called it a day. I was hoping for more depth on the Vita because I have heard so many good things about The Show. Though there were many cool things about the game I found some frustration therein.
The game mode where you design a player after yourself and rise through the ranks to the “bigs” is called Road to the Show or RTTS on the game menu. It’s my favorite part of playing baseball because a game can last 5-10 minutes as a result of only focusing on my individual parts. I appreciate this version much better than playing 162+ games at 9 innings. That’s very time-consuming. Somebody find me some time. I need a little extra time!
Most of the features and gameplay on the Vita mirrored my experience on the Xbox 360. The style and game play matched almost exactly; not in design, but game play. The better you play, the more points you earn which you can then use in the player’s menu to build up attributes such as power, contact, speed, etc. You can also purchase points from the Playstation store. Yes, I did that! Dammit, don’t hold it against me, I just needed a boost to get things going.
My first year, 2014, was spent in AA Northwest Arkansas. I worked hard; blood, sweat, tears, and the points I bought helped me get t AAA ball in Omaha later in the year. I stayed there for the rest of 2014 before being offered contract for the Royals in 2015. Keep in mind, you can select whatever organization you want to grow roots in. 2015 was disappointing because I was only a substitute player. I only got to play full-time when the starting second baseman got injured. At that point I was able to “show my stuff” and play a little more regularly. We didn’t get to the World Series that year, but I managed to keep my average well over .300. By the 2016 season I became the full-time second baseball and had a hell of a year; over 80 homeruns and over .400 average. I was totally awesome! We made it to the playoffs and lost to Detroit. God damn Tigers! I could have just shut the game off and started over until I won, but would have been sort of like cheating. By this time I wanted to trade myself to another team and here is why.
A needed in-game feature should be a motivation meter where the rest of the players fed off my tempo. Nothing is more frustrating that scoring 6 RBIs, nailing three homers, stealing 2 bases and watching my team lose. Then, the next game I will go hitless and win the game. Basically, winning or losing games is entirely left up to chance. I know, I know it’s just like reality, but this isn’t reality. It is worth noting that my pitching staff was among the worst in the league. If I were on a better team, I would probably have more success. Hence, the trade request.
On the Xbox baseball games I was able to simply go in the trade menu and trade myself any time I needed. On The Show I could only “ask” for a trade request. I spent most of 2017 asking for a trade request whenever the option was available only to see a reply telling me they are working on it. This is crap. Not only should I be able to trade myself when I need to, I should be able to trade other players on my team when they are not performing as I see fit. I feel this managerial aspect of Road to the Show, would enhance the overall experience and give me more positive control of the team’s direction. At the moment I am stuck on the Royals with very little ability to control the outcome of the games and inability to trade myself when I get bored looking at the same stadiums all the time.
I do not expect much in the graphics department on hand-held systems, but the Vita’s frame-rate handles the game quite well. There are very few glitches. The graphics could be better; they remind me of PC graphics many, many moons ago. For a baseball game, my biggest fear is that the batting interface would be really difficult with trying to see and hit a small ball, but it really isn’t that bad. The learning curve was about a half hour to get used to hitting. There are several camera angles you can choose to your liking. There is also a batting practice option you can choose to participate in before the game until you get used to it. The announcers are pretty good, but not very deep in their commentary. Within just a few games, they will start repeating things. However, their dialogue is very smooth.
Overall, not a bad hand-held game at all. The few frustrations with the inability to control trades and being able to influence my team winning are not enough to pass on this game. It’s worth the time and to be successful, you will have to put some work into your player and choose your team carefully. If you don’t care about making it to the off-season and being a playoff power-player then you’ll just have fun fine-tuning your selfie. For me, it’s all about the ring.