Video game review: MLB 15: The Show, from Sony - baseball as you've not played it

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 April, 2015, 7:21pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 April, 2015, 7:21pm

MLB 15: The Show

As much as critics like to praise annual sporting-game updates for their depth of innovation, there are really only two ways such releases can push forward: either they revitalise the entire franchise through more realistic or arcade-style gameplay, or play the caution card and coast along on last year's release.

If an umpire were to stand on the sidelines of each gaming console firing up MLB 15, he'd constantly be shouting "safe". The game is available for the PS4, PS3 and PS Vita, and is as authentic as things get in a highly realistic depiction of America's favourite pastime. But it rarely advances on last year's release to any great extent, and those considering trading-up from MLB 14 should think twice.

The centrepiece Road to the Show and Franchise modes, online experiences, as well as standard exhibition games are all included here and are largely the same, save for the occasional improvement in lag or batting. That's far from a negative though: it shows the developers have mastered everything from simulated in-game physics and player reactions, all the way to crowd animations.

The biggest updates are the graphics and the game looks glorious on the PS4. Larger-than-life characters, well-defined pitching and batting, and the general Americana of the sport are all captured beautifully. The only major concern here for casual players is the steep learning curve.

This is because despite what the movies may have taught you, baseball can be an incredibly tough and long-winded sport. The developers have foregone the once-retro arcade-style for as true a depiction of the pastime as possible.

And that often means two-hour matches where not much happens, while baseball thrills such as homeruns, loading all bases or close calls at the bottom of the ninth are incredibly rare. We spent hours testing the different modes: for an unseasoned player, even getting to first base was difficult.

Not to say there isn't fun to be had in MLB 15: The Show. Fans and those willing to put in the time will be rewarded, especially as skill sets improve and the true challenges of the sport are mastered. But if you're looking for a high-octane simulation of baseball with plenty of homers, this isn't where you'll find it.