'MLB 15 The Show' Impressions: Engaging Gameplay Modes And Simple Presentation Highlight This Year's Entry

By Matthew Buzzi , Updated Apr 06, 2015 03:38 PM EDT
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MLB 15: The Show released last week, just in time for Opening Day for real MLB teams. I've spent plenty of time with the game since launch, and have some thoughts on the experience so far.

MLB 14 was the first title in the series to venture onto PlayStation 4, and this year's edition is building on that foundation. Here's what I've found in my time:

Road To The Show Is As Good As Ever

Easily the mode I've played the most so far, Road to the Show remains deep and challenging. This is the mode that takes your pro player from the minors to the major leagues, and you start off quite terrible. Unlike many 'be a pro' modes in sports games, the progression comes easily and clearly early on. Training points are awarded in simple fashion, and you can choose which attributes to improve (unlike NBA 2K15's annoying grouped method). There are a ton of ways to track stats and see your performances, and you'll have to remain consistent to earn a call up.

MLB 15: The Show Is Pretty Difficult

The game has a definite learning curve, and you don't just jump in and succeed. If you're playing Road to the Show this is in part due to the fact that your player is a low rating, but hitting in the game can be pretty challenging. You have to actively watch the pitches, remain patient, and pick your swings--just attempting to hit everything casually will not get you on base. Pitching is a bit easier to get the mechanics of, but there's still plenty that goes into selecting the right type of pitch, knowing when to throw balls and strikes, etc.

Simple And Effective Presentation, Easy To Use Menus

Some sports games really muck up what should be a straightforward task, but MLB 15's are simple and effective. The main modes are all right in front of you, collectibles have their own section, and community options are grouped as they should be. There's no menu slowdown, and load times have been increased since last year's, which often took entirely too long. A general clean and efficient feel to the menus makes getting in and out of your favorite modes a breeze.

Good Array Of Modes And Challenges

MLB 15: The Show will not leave you lacking for options, with the main Franchise and Road to the Show modes supported by a variety of other choices. You can play exhibition games with synced real-life data, play versus games online, join an online franchise league, play community-created challenges, and go through a number of mini-games. There's also the EA Ultimate Team-like card mode Diamond Dynasty, which allows you to build your own all-time great team.

Graphics Are Good, But Not Always Amazing

The game's visuals looks pretty amazing in trailers, and it is impressive up close. From afar in a general game though? The whole field doesn't always look great. Fans can be jagged from a distance, as can the edge of the infield dirt along the grass. Maybe it's my display, and it does often look good in the right lighting and in close-ups (the player models are very good), but I wasn't necessarily blown away.

The Rest

The soundtrack in MLB 15 is pretty good, and the aesthetics of the menus and loading screens are neat. I've experienced one bug so far, though it is consistent and game-breaking. Doing warmup swings before a game always makes MLB 15 crash back to the PS4 dashboard for me, without fail. I've spoken to others who play and they don't have this issue, but I surely can't be the only one. I've come to just skip warm-ups altogether, because whether it's one or five pitches into the warmups, it will crash.

Overall the game doesn't feel a whole lot different from MLB 14, which may turn off some fans who bought last year's version. There are some visual upgrades and improved AI--smaller features that will make a difference, but this isn't a wholesale evolution. Year-to-year player and franchise saves do make transitioning to this year's game that much more appealing.

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