MLB 15: The Show – PS3
Platform: PlayStation 3
Developer: SCE San Diego Studio
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: March 31, 2015
Genre: Sports, Baseball
Nerd Rating: 6.5 /10
Reviewed By: Steroid Gamer
You may be wondering why I’m just now writing up a review for MLB 15: The Show late in September. Well, it’s a pretty simple answer. As the professional baseball season starts to wind down, I figured now would be as good a time as any to finally write up a review. Honestly, the biggest reason in my delay was I wanted to be able to play through all of the game’s lengthy modes and give each one a fair share of my time. So I’ve spent the last 5 months spending somewhere around 50+ hours with MLB 15 in order to give the game its due diligence. So let’s play ball!
To start off, this game is absolutely stacked with content that will provide hours upon hours of fun. If I’ve learned one thing at all from playing The Show it’s that the game never lacks with things to do. From Franchise Mode, to Road to the Show (RTTS), to Diamond Dynasty, and the game’s various online modes, MLB 15 is the perfect game for baseball fanatics. I’m not going to go into extreme detail on each of the modes, partially because multiple things carry over. For example, actually playing the game of baseball, but instead will give you a quick glance at what they have to offer.
First up is Diamond Dynasty which is similar to the popular MUT mode from the NFL Madden games. Here you collect player cards and build up a team of baseball players. Your team will start with a lot of scrubby AAA players and benchwarmers as you play against other teams, either online or offline via cpu, but participating in any form of MLB 15 action grants you stubs. Stubs are The Show’s in-game currency and you can use your stubs to buy packs of baseball cards that contain better players, and in some cases, the elusive holographic legend card. I found Diamond Dynasty to be extremely addicting and genuinely fun to play with my mixed matched team of players. Saving up my stubs to spend on card packs hoping to get a good player provided a level of mysterious excitement no other sports game has done for me in the past. I’m not sure if it’s because the whole “card collecting” thing is nostalgic from back in the day when people collected, you know, physical baseball cards. Nonetheless, Diamond Dynasty gets a thumbs up from me. Heck, there is even an online virtual market to sell off cards you don’t want, and buy super rare cards you’ve been coveting.
Next up is Franchise mode. There isn’t a ton to say about this mode as it offers pretty much everything you could possibly think of. Signing players, scouting draft picks, managing 40-man rosters, making trades, signing coaches, and even playing all of your team’s AAA baseball games if you so choose. Franchise mode is filled with every detail that a professional MLB team has to do when building up their roster. Luckily, everything in here is optional. So, say for instance you don’t care about your AAA or AA affiliate teams, then you can completely auto-simulate what you don’t care for. The freedom of picking and choosing which activities you want to do in Franchise mode make it the ultimate season-sim package.
If you were looking to fulfill your dreams of becoming a major league ball player then you’re in luck, well sort of. In Road to the Show mode you can create a player and take them through the pre-draft scouting process, get drafted, and then begin your ascension to becoming the MLB’s MVP. If you’re like me you’ll probably spend some time with a minor league affiliate for awhile, but hey, that’s how the real thing works. Virtual or not, MLB 15’s RTTS mode is about as real as it gets, excluding the real-life process that is. In fact, it’s the realism that can make RTTS mode a bit difficult for the first 10 or so hours. The kicker here is you only control your character. Each game is simulated until it’s your time to bat, or if a ball is going to be hit in your direction (or at least a chance as sometimes the game will fool you and a measly ground ball goes straight to the first baseman, leaving your character left to stare and watch). You can jump into the game at any given time but you are still only allowed to control your own character. This is where the problems arise. To begin with, the controls aren’t as smooth as they should be and the camera gets all out of whack if the ball changes directions quickly. For instance, I was a Center-Fielder, and as the ball soared towards me in the outfield the camera and my player where facing home plate, but if the ball flew past my head the camera quickly jars around to face the outfield. You end up with the camera facing the ball, which is helpful, but you end up running in the wrong direction because of the quick camera change. I don’t know if there is really any room for improvement in terms of the controls in RTTS because the more “realistic” it needs to be the more clunky fielding and base running controls are going to be. At the same time if the camera was set to the default of the other game’s modes (overhead and high when fielding a ball) then that kind of takes away from feeling like you’re in the game.
Both Franchise mode and Road to the Show allow you to carry over your save file from MLB 14 if you have one which is neat, and I can only assume MLB 16 will do the same. There are a couple more modes like Community Challenges, Weekly Challenges, and playing in an online franchise. The Show is a plethora of baseball content.
Sadly not all that glitter’s is gold. MLB 15: The Show comes with its fair share of blemishes and missteps. For starters, the game defaults to 720p and even advises upon each initially load up that you keep the game at 720p for optimal performance, yet I still encountered random freezing throughout some of my baseball games, causing me to lose all progress. More importantly was the frequent, albeit random, dropping of frames. While it only happened maybe 20% of the time, the game would drop down to ZERO frames at crucial points. It always happened as soon as a pitcher was delivering his pitch or when the batter was trying to swing. When this happens you’re basically screwed and there is nothing you can do about it but hope it wasn’t strike three. One second you see the pitcher wind up, the screen pauses, and next thing you know the catcher has the ball in his glove. Baseball is a game of many pitches so missing the chance to swing your bat isn’t a deal breaker, but it’s still a glaring issue.
The online portion of the game doesn’t hold up quite that well either. The servers themselves are fine. You quickly find a match and get in a game and lag is pretty nonexistent. However, MLB 15 suffers from what most online games do, it’s filled with jerks. I probably played 20 online games across the various modes in The Show, and 15 out of those 20 times my opponent quit. Players quit either because they are getting whooped or because a close game comes down to a final pitch and they don’t want to risk a loss in their online profile, so they disconnect at the last second. Rage quitting isn’t an issue unique to MLB 15, but my gripe with it is how the player who doesn’t disconnect gets punished by losing all their progress. All of your online stats are tracked, so let’s say you have a great batting average in one game only to have your opponent quit, and then you don’t get any of those stats. It’s as if the game never happened, and as far as I can tell The Show doesn’t offer much of any punishment or reason to discourage players from quitting out at the last second.
There are also several online modes that, sadly, I’m guessing won’t be available much longer once the MLB regular season is over. One of which is the exhibition mode that has all the game’s current lineups and matchups perfectly synched to the real MLB. So you can go in and play a quick game of any given MLB scheduled match for that day. Obviously, once the season ends this feature will go away, but I also fear that the ability to download rosters, sliders, logos, and community challenges from other players will go away as well. MLB 14: The Show had its servers shut down shortly before MLB 15 hit store shelves, and for a game that has a huge connection to being “online” it’s only fair for me to point out that, in a sense, your only renting half the game when you buy it.
Finally, we come to the games overbearing, unorganized, and cumbersome menus/navigation system. MLB 15 has a “tile” them similar to the Xbox 360 interface, or Windows 8 OP system. The problem with the menus is so much of what you’re looking for is buried a hundred feet below the mound. Want to edit a player? Good luck. Trying to download and play with the latest updated roster? Fat chance. Need to adjust some in-game difficulty settings? Nice try. With all of MLB 15’s content comes a very cluttered unfriendly user interface that will cause you to spend more time searching for what you’re looking for then is worth the effort.
Additionally, while the game may be targeted for baseball fans, it doesn’t do anything to help those who are less than experts with the sport. The game’s “training” is very skim and bare boned, and MLB 15 is filled with baseball jargon that statisticians will love. .OPS %, GIDP, and “H” appearing next to a pitcher’s in-game stats may leave you wondering what the hell all this stuff means. If you know the game of baseball all The Show’s in-game lingo will make 100% sense to you, but those who are more of a casual fan are out of luck. MLB 15: The Show does a horrendous job at not only teaching you the game of baseball, but specific scenarios such as, runners on first and second with no outs. Do you sacrifice bunt or not? On top of that all the baseball wording and stats aren’t explained anywhere. For me, it was fine because I watch enough baseball and I’m knowledgeable enough to understand more than the basics of the sport, but this could easily be a big frustration for any newcomers to America’s favorite pastime.
MLB 15: The Show is a die-hard baseball fan’s dream come true. There’s a vast variety of game modes to play in, each loaded and deep with content. The online features, while there still active, give fans a cool way to play real-life matchups and have more interaction within the game’s community. It’s just too bad the game suffers from some technical mishaps with freezes and frame rates dropping at crucial points in a game. The online is probably only available for a short period past the season’s end, and the game is a horrible introduction for anyone new or not as familiar with the sport. I’m going to put MLB 15: The Show in one of two categories, where you can choose for yourself which one you lie in. Are you a baseball fanatic? Someone who watches a good 100 games a year and knows every baseball term left to right? If so, MLB 15 is an amazing baseball experience and a must own for fans of the sport. Or, are you more of a casual fan that watches 20-30 games a year and follows more of their local team than the whole league? If you are, then The Show is going to have some fun things for you to do, but ultimately it’s going to throw you too many fastballs and leave you starring at your feet from an embarrassing strike out.
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