Title: MLB 15 The Show
Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 3.2 GB
NA Availability: Digital Download | Retail
EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: Yes
With the turn of the month of April, it is officially MLB Season! People are latched onto their TV’s and other devices to watch their favorite teams duke it out, be it in Great American Ball Park or Wrigley field, while their kids are out in their own makeshift baseball diamonds running the bases and swinging the bat, imagining they are Todd Frazier at bat for the Cincinnati Reds or even old heroes like Ken Griffey Jr or Mark McGwire.
Gamers turn to video games for this outlet as well. Major League Baseball games, however, have started to die down in variety in the past few years. There are two primary MLB video game series. There is 2K Sports’ 2K Baseball series, which hasn’t gotten a release in the past 2 years. There is also the PlayStation-exclusive series MLB: The Show. Since 2K Sports haven’t made a baseball game lately, baseball fans will look to PlayStation platforms for MLB: The Show.
With the PS Vita in mind, SCEA has been good at maintaining versions of new games are all new releases of their MLB The Show games. Just as the Vita got games for MLB 12, 13, and 14, the support has remained. Compatible with both the PS Vita and the PlayStation TV, here is my official review of MLB 15: The Show!
Due to this game not having a story, this section shall remain blank
MLB 15 is best described as an arcade or simulation baseball game. In the game, you will be going through various gameplay modes to either do a quick session of gameplay in an Exhibition Game or Home Run Derby, or advancing your own custom character bit by bit in the their road to The Show. All in all, though, it’s about little arcade-style gameplay bits so this is best called an arcade or simulation baseball game.
The first thing to note is that there aren’t a lot of features in the Vita version of MLB 15 that were not in MLB 14. Of the improvements that were made in this new game, the Vita got the least improvements, just like the PS3 version didn’t get as many improvements as the PS4 version. Among the improvements includes the ability to play as Legends from each team in the game as well as refreshes to the Franchise Mode and the batting interface. All in all, though, nothing huge was added to the game other than Legends vs the multitude of improvements made to the PS3/PS4 versions.
When you go into the game, you have access to all different game modes from the beginning. The Main Menu allows you to go into Exhibition Mode, Home Run Derby, Post-Season, Franchise, Practice, and Road to the Show. Each of these modes functions a little differently from one another, though it is worth noting that there are all game modes that were in the previous MLB game for the Vita.
Exhibition Mode is where you go for quick play sessions. You can do an Exhibition Match, where you can set up any team vs any other team and play against the CPU or go online to access the 2015 MLB schedule and play real games that are happening in the new season and make your own attempts at changing what happened in those games. Home Run Derby allows you to go into a competition against other players to try to get the most home runs within a certain number of pitches and outs. This is the only option you have of actually playing online, which can be with random people or people in your Friend List. The nice thing about this is that it is cross-play between Vita, PSTV, PS3, and PS4 players.
The most extensive modes, though, are Franchise, Post-Season, and Road to The Show. Post-Season is the shortest of which that allows you to take your favorite team through a post-seasons set of games and attempt to win the World Series. Franchise is like this, but much more extensive. In this mode, you take your team through a season, set of seasons, or as long as you want and can take the role of both the manager and players, managing teams, drafts, trades, and more. There are a lot of things to do in this mode.
Road to The Show is definitely the most iconic mode in MLB: The Show. In this mode, you can either choose a player of your choosing or create your own character. You can change their physique, age, contract, position, hair, name, and attributes. You can then take them through the Pre-Season and get them drafted onto an MLB team like the Cincinnati Reds or St Louis Cardinals or whoever your favorite team is. You can then take them on their career through games and give them personal growth through the career.
The growth is in the form of performance. You can have and earn Training Points that you can distribute to various attributes like certain types of batting and other stats. The kicker here is that you have to perform well to be able to get a lot of points. If you don’t do very well and don’t like the slow grind until you get better at the game, you can also buy studs to buy these points with real money.
That is a bit point to show. Practice Mode offers the ability to practice your batting and pitching skills. However, there is a learning curve when first playing an MLB: The Show game. If you’re new to the series, you will first notice that there is no tutorial built into the game. The closest you will have to explain the game to you are the different control menus that show you what buttons do what or small prompts for types of hits or pitches.
There are a lot of extensive aspects of every time of controlling your character. You will be using completely different controls when you’re batting or trying to run bases than if you’re pitching or playing left field, trying to catch a pop-up. The game really expects you to already know how to play the game. If you don’t, then you’re in for a very long time of learning how you play the game. There are lots of online guides for this, but the game doesn’t do much for you if you’re new to the series.
One last thing to mention are the network features. You will need to use the online features to access The Show Live calendar in Exhibition, buying studs, and going online to play with friends in Home Run Derby mode. The network features themselves work well when they are active. However, I have found some issues with connecting to the game. I have had many situation where I would go into Home Run Derby to do some online play and I would get errors that the online features were disabled. Sometimes I had to restart the game several times before they started to work.
All in all, MLB 15: The Show can be as long or as short as you make it. A single ball game can take up to an hour to play out, so a single Season could take up 20-30 hours. Or you could just simulate games you don’t want to play and have it only take 1-2 hours. While there is a lot of content added to the other versions of the game, there is plenty for you to go in and do to keep you busy.
In all honesty, there is too much to the controls to explain in a review. I could spend an entire review just explaining how you control everything. The first thing you should know is that there are some minor touch controls built into the game, but there are button alternatives for them. That way, PlayStation TV owners will not have to worry about having to use make-shift touch controls as they play the game.
Navigating menus is a mix of either using the touch controls or navigating with the D-Pad and face buttons. This is very easy to go through, thankfully. When you’re in the middle of gameplay, though, you will not be using the touch screens at all. This will be done with the Analog Stick, Face Buttons, and L/R triggers. What they do depends on the mode you’re in, from using the face buttons to pitch, bat, or toss the ball to the various bases from using the R trigger to dive to catch a coming ball.
All in all, the controls are simple to use, but you have to learn them first. You will need to know to look in the menus and guides first because none of it is explained to you and very little is displayed on-screen.
As far as the visual presentation is concerned, MLB 15 looks good, for the most part. There is a lot of detail in the visual presentation and the character models look very much like how the people they’re modeled after look in a real baseball game. There is also a lot of detail in the environments and even the fans in the stadium. While games like Madden NFL 13 on the Vita had very little detail in the audience, there are pretty extensive character models in the crowd, changing scoreboards, and more.
The big downer about MLB 15 is the same thing that brings down the PS3 and PS4 versions of the game: Load Times. When you go to load a game, you will be waiting for a while. The load times can range from 20-25 seconds and sometimes even longer than that. This is to the point that is can get quite frustrating just waiting for your game to load.
Everything else in the game runs well. Whether you’re online or offline, the game plays pretty smooth. There are a couple skips here and there. All in all, though, it plays very smooth and transitions well.
MLB 15: The Show is the newest game in the MLB franchise and the Vita’s newest handheld baseball experience. On the downside, the game doesn’t do much to explain how to play the game, most of the new features were not included in this version, there are very long load times, and there are issues with the network features not connecting when you’re on Wi-Fi. Fans will definitely find enjoyment if they want MLB on the go, but there are some technical and learning curves to get past.