MLB: The Show Swings Big On PlayStation 4

Even if there were other competing  baseball titles, MLB: The Show would still be the best big league sim available. Probably. 

The MLB: The Show franchise debuted ten years ago as the Playstation-exclusive rival to the incumbent MLB 2K. But 2K Sports pressed pause on their series two seasons ago and The Show, now in its second year on the next-gen PS4, is free to reign supreme. And that’s exactly what it does.

MLB: The Show brings a wide variety of modes so casual and hardcore fans alike can experience the MLB in every imaginable way. There’s the Road to the Show, a deep career mode where you bring up a player from farm league to all-star as well as  a traditional Franchise in which you take control of your favorite team from opening day to World Series. Diamond Dynasty offers a chance to play with historic, hall-of-famer-filled fantasy teams, while the obligatory quick games and online play are there for when you’re feeling as non-committal as a Cardinals GM.

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When the series made its first outing on the PS4 last year, it suffered some rookie shakes.  But this year’s version sees a drastic improvement both in graphics and game-physics. Stadiums are rendered authentically, while revamped lighting and shading makes every blade of grass and kicked cleat look appear frighteningly real. The setting sun glints on the new Yankee Stadium; sweat drips off Justin Verlander’s nose. Highly detailed refinements are present in almost every aspect of MLB 15: The Show. AI teammates are smarter, cover bases better, and take more direct lines to a ball in play than ever before. There are even dozens of new third-out animations added to increase the broadcast quality of the action.

Baseball games can be frustrating in their complexity, with control schemes that more often than not finds you sending a runner to sprinting off the bag when all you wanted to do was bunt. But The Show has always had button allocations so simple you’re the only one to blame when your base runner is easily gunned down on his way to second. This year’s Show is even more refined, with improvements that let you fine tune batting with the toggle of a thumbstick rather than good, old fashioned timing.

The Show does toe a fine line between true progress and minor polish, but its all for the benefit of baseball fans. It doesn’t matter if you’re a newcomer to the series or a longtime veteran porting your perfect games over from last year’s edition, MLB 15: The Show is the best baseball game you can get this year and it’s not just because there aren’t any others. If and when 2K Sports decides to revive their own MLB game, it’s going to take a lot more than gimmick to draw fans back from The Show’s level of major league excellence.