MLB 14: The Show PS3 review: going to the fence

Without 2K Sports' MLB 2K series to stand in the way, Sony could have simply plastered the number "14" on the box and called it a day. Instead, Sony San Diego has improved upon the series in all the right ways, adding upon the significant changes introduced in last year's game. While the PS4 version will undoubtedly look better, the PS3 version of MLB 14: The Show continues to capture the genuine thrill of the game--and that's what will count for the fans. Like previous releases, one of the biggest strengths of The Show is the number of modes it offers. You can hop in for a quick match offline or off, build a player from the ground up in the Road To the Show mode, direct your team to glory behind-the-scenes in Online Franchise mode, or take part in a Home Run Derby for bragging rights. The number of options available are staggeringand offer something for everyone, from the rookie player to the diamond purist. Three notable features stand out in this year's entry. First is the new Quick Counts mode. For those of you who aren't too crazy playing a season mode all the way through at regular speed, you can speed things up by simulating pitches based on players' abilities and stats. This picks up the pace of the game tremendously, especially when all you want to do is have your batter drive a few balls out of the park.

There's nothing like being on the mound

Next, player focus is tweaked in Road to the Show. Instead of having to see how your team is doing overall while building your player up, you can zoom in on a player's progress for as long as you want, making key decisions that can make or break their career. A new scouting feature will let you prove your worth over a three-game stretch, having scouts watch you and see if you're big-league worthy. You can even try to select the team you want to be drafted for, even if it's not always guaranteed. The most significant addition is the new Community Challenges mode. Here, players can dictate certain rules and conditions during a match and see how others fare with it. For instance, creating a grand slam-like opportunity for a batter, with the bases loaded, while facing off against a pitcher who specializes in shutouts. You can go the opposite end as well, pitting a pitcher against power hitters trying to turn the tide in the 9th. There are several to try out here, and with a user friendly interface, you may be tempted to try your own. Not everything is perfect with MLB 14, however. For now, the game's online servers face issues more often than preferred, with lag affecting match-ups against others. With baseball season in full effect, Sony would be wise to patch things soon. MLB 14: The Show is another excellent entry in the series from Sony San Diego, with enough "new" to make it feel fresh. Online isn't quite where it should be just yet, but what's here will keep you swinging for the fences regardless. The PS3 version is excellent, and establishes a solid base for the PS4 version coming next month. [8]
This review is based on a retail PS3 copy provided by the publisher. MLB 14: The Show is available now for PlayStation 3 and PS Vita, and will be released on PlayStation 4 on May 6th. The game is rated E.