Sports titles are an interesting genre of games when it comes to development. Unlike most games, sports titles only have a one year development cycle before the next title gets shipped. Even other series with annual releases, like Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed, have multiple year development cycles due to different studios handling each entry.

So here we are with MLB 15: The Show, a Sony exclusive baseball series that’s developed each year by Sony San Diego. The series has usually been held in high regards as one of the best sports sims on the market year in and year out.

Right off the bat (pun somewhat intended), you’re hit with a fairly lengthy install, which in most cases, you’d be incredibly annoyed with not being able to play your game right away. However, as is the case with MLB 15, you’re taken straight to an exhibition matchup between last year’s World Series teams, the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants. You are automatically put on the Giants with all of the default settings – and they even introduce you to the dynamic difficulty here – but you can easily go to the pause menu to switch teams or adjust any settings that you would like. While mandatory enormous installs for console games these days might be annoying, at least with MLB 15: The Show, you aren’t stuck staring at a screen playing the waiting game.

MLB 15: The Show

Before we talk about modes or gameplay or anything else, let’s take a moment to talk about how great it is to finally have year-to-year saves! Finally, you don’t have to feel rushed to finish your franchise or your RttS player’s career (or in most cases, you don’t come close to finishing) before the next game comes out, only to have to start over again. Now you can import your player or franchise from MLB 14 into MLB 15 and continue right where you left off.

Let’s talk about modes. Returning without much change are perennial favorites like Franchise and Road to the Show. Revamped menus accompany both game modes, which can be confusing at first for veterans of the series, but once you get used to them, they are easy to navigate. When talking about Franchise mode, the biggest question coming into each iteration of the game is whether or not the trade logic is at all realistic. Rest easy, because from what I’ve seen so far, everything seems A-ok on the trade logic front. From every season-long simulation I’ve done, the blockbuster trades were at a minimum, and the smaller trades due to team-needs were up. So no longer will you go into your franchise a year or two in and find team rosters completely unrecognizable and ridiculous.

As for Road to the Show, there’s really nothing new here, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s still one of, if not the most compelling game modes in all of sports games, in my opinion. Again, we see a menu restructure. The new menus, once you get used to them, are much improved and it’s easier and quicker to get to the important areas of the menu. I continued my player that I created in MLB 14 and imported him over. I was a second year MLB third baseman for the Kansas City Royals. After only getting spot playing time I decided to switch positions to RF and became their everyday right fielder. We made it to the American League Championship Series and lost to the Angels. That winter I was traded to the LA Dodgers where I’m currently playing the 2018 season.

MLB 15: The Show

Anyways… If you don’t want to or have a player to import from last year’s game, you can create a new player and take him to the amateur showcase before going into the draft. Some of my most fun times with the mode is early on playing in Double-A or Triple-A trying to break out. If you just want to suit up for your favorite franchise, you can forgo the draft and just choose a team. But come on, what fun is that?

If you’re completely unfamiliar with this particular mode, think of it like an RPG. You earn points – or lose them – depending on your play and you can put those points into anything you want and you can build the type of player you want like a speedy leadoff hitter or a middle of the order power hitter.

MLB 15: The Show

Diamond Dynasty is this year’s big overhaul. No longer do you have fictional players that you try and progress while you also burn through cards for real players. Now you only work on collecting cards. These cards vary in quality from “common” to “diamond” and once you earn them, they are yours for good. You can earn these cards from playing the game, you can purchase them from the marketplace from other gamers with in-game currency (Stubs can be earned from playing the game, selling items in the marketplace, or purchasing them with real world money), or you can purchase card packs with Stubs. In this mode, you create your own team and manage the roster or cards. Another brand new addition to the mode is the created superstar. He’s completely customizable like a RttS player, and in this mode you feed him other players’ cards to develop and progress his talent. The restructuring of this mode is a welcome addition as it provides a bit more lasting interest, at least in my eyes.

Of course, there are other game modes like:

  • Exhibition: A single game where you pick both teams, pitchers and lineups.
  • The Show Live: Play specific real world matchups from that particular day.
  • Online Rated: Rated multiplayer matchups. Of course, you can also enter lobbies or straight up challenge a friend.
  • Online Franchise: Franchise mode, but can be done with other players in control of other teams.
  • Season: Play a single season.
  • Postseason: Take your team through the postseason and try to win the World Series.
  • Home Run Derby: Choose a player to compete in the Home Run Derby.
  • Challenge of the Week: Specific challenges that are put out each week. Gain points and see how you stack up against the public leaderboard. Easy and fun to play when you’re short on time.

Now for an important part of any sports sim: gameplay and presentation. One new feature this year is your pitching display. In years past, when you picked any pitch that has a break, you would get arrows that would indicate which direction and how far the pitch would break and you would kind of have to make an educated guess as to where the ball would end up from your starting point. In this year’s title, you can switch to a pitch projectory display that will show you exactly where the pitch releases from your pitchers hand to how it will break and then where it will end up (assuming that you perform your delivery correctly). It makes locating your pitches a bit easier, but my fondness of the new addition is that before you even make a pitch, you can see what kind of arm angle your pitcher uses.

The biggest addition to this year’s gameplay is how AI fielders play. In previous years, AI fielders would take direct routes to balls put in play. This year the AI plays more like a real fielder would, making wrong reads, taking indirect routes to balls or more rounded routes. This AI upgrade was immediately noticeable and fantastic change as you may find yourself getting hits down the line or in the power alleys that just weren’t possible in years past. It’s a great new addition to the gameplay and makes each game more immersive.

My Great Capture Screenshot 2015-04-05 23-45-13

Always a big addition to any sports game are new animations. There are so many new animations added to swings, fielding, throwing, etc. that make it incredibly immersive. Player’s signature swings and follow throughs are as good as ever, as are fielding and throwing animations. If your second baseman grabs a hot grounder and has plenty of time to throw the guy out at first, he’ll take his time with the throw. It’s things like this that just immerse you further into the game.

Something that’s been lacking in baseball games for a long time is licensed equipment. We see this all the time in other sports titles, but it’s been noticeably absent from baseball. Not anymore. We can now have players wearing spikes from Nike, Under Armour and Mizuno; fielding gloves from Rawlings, Louisville Slugger, Nike, Wilson; bats from Sam Bat, Marucci, Louisville Slugger, etc. For regular players, you can equip these things whenever you want. For your RttS player, you can either purchase these with Stubs (earned or purchased with real money) via the marketplace, or you can earn them through playing the game and they will add attributes to your player. The addition of the licensed gear just ups the immersion factor even more. It’s something I’ve wanted for a long time, and now that it’s here, I’m not disappointed at all.

Now for the big question that’s always seemed to plague past versions of MLB: The Show… Is online multiplayer actually playable? This year I’m very happy to say that it’s working very well.  In years past, online was plagued by server issues, lag and latency, rendering the mode fairly unplayable. I played numerous games and each and every one of them held up flawlessly. I’m now able to work counts while batting as I would in an offline mode and I can pitch how I want to because I no longer have to worry about latency factoring into swings or throwing meters. Because of this, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a big boom in the number of online leagues this year.

MLB 15: The Show

Lastly, some smaller things that I noticed, both good and bad…

  • One thing that’s always bothered me a lot was how catcher’s gear straps looked. They always hovered over the player and looked really bad. Not anymore. They now hug the player just as they should.
  • Another thing that’s been improved are loading times. They were pretty bad in last year’s game, but fairly snappy this time around.
  • When a new batter comes to the plate, a box pops up and shows you the defensive shift being played. A very nice addition.
  • There are some uniform things that are still wrong; things like undershirt/sock colors and width of jersey piping.
  • I have found that sometimes facial hair can look really bad. I couldn’t figure out why, but it seemed to only appear in the muddy, nasty way on created players.
  • Background skylines could use some work.

MLB 15: The Show is a top-notch entry in the series and one of the best sports games on the market. It’s a must-pick-up for any baseball fan (sorry Xbox gamers). The game does just about everything right in this year’s iteration while the mistakes are minuscule. Every game mode offers something different and fun for you to dive into for many hours. While it’s a top-notch entry in the series, it’s easy to see that this year was mostly about improvements to the game instead of overhauls. I feel like new additions will have to be made soon to keep bringing back gamers.

This review was done while playing the PlayStation 4 version of MLB 15: The Show. The game is also available on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita.

MLB 15: The Show Review
MLB 15: The Show is a top-notch entry in the series and one of the best sports games on the market. It’s a must-pick-up for any baseball fan.
Positives
  • Beautiful and immersive
  • Top-notch gameplay
  • Online finally works as it should
Negatives
  • Facial hair can sometimes look pretty bad on created players
  • Low-res textures on city backdrops
9Overall Score
Reader Rating: (2 Votes)
6.7

About The Author

Kyle K
Staff Writer

Kyle has been a gamer for most of his life. He's a public relations graduate and a well-rounded console and PC gamer who will play just about anything. Also, he secretly wishes he was Nathan Drake.