MLB 15: The Show Vita Review
It wasn’t all that many years back when you could walk into a game shop and choose from a few different yearly sports games. Football, basketball, hockey, baseball and even a few types of auto racing all had different publishers vying for your gaming dollars each season. In terms of console baseball games these days, Sony’s MLB The Show series is the only game in town ever since 2K Sports threw in the towel after MLB 2K13. Naturally, this means fans who want to play ball have to shell out for a Sony console or go play at a friend’s place if they’re loyal to another platform but still need a baseball fix.
As far as the Vita version of MLB 15: The Show goes, it’s a solid game that’s well worth the $19.99 price tag. However, a lack of online competitive play (save for Home Run Derby) and a download that requires over 3 gigabytes of memory card space make this one only for true baseball fanatics. The weird thing about the game is it comes in a physical case, yet inside that case is a download voucher. I’d gather that Major League Baseball wanted that official numbered hologram stuck to something and Sony happened to have a bunch of Vita cases sitting in a warehouse. The large install size means if you’ve under an 8GB card, you’ll need to get a new card with more memory. You’ll also want to note even with an 8GB card that has some games already on it you’ll probably be shifting stuff around using the Content Manager before you download the game.
Once you tackle that issue, expect a great handheld baseball game that’s more decent looking than spectacular. Granted, the Vita isn’t a portable PS3 or PS4 at all and it would be silly to think so. Most of the attention to detail has gone into the player models, animations and stadiums, so those elements are nailed remarkably well. However, crowds are stiff sprites and some signage is a bit low resolution. Those elements shouldn’t distract you from the gameplay at all once you get in the zone. Hitting and pitching can be dialed back to a more casual level or up to All-Star, Hall of Fame or Legend difficulty, all of which demand a mastery of the Vita’s analog sticks and VERY precise button presses. The best bet for new players is to ease into the game at the easiest difficulty and crank it up as they grow accustomed to things.
The RPG-like Road to the Show (RTTS) mode is back and created players in this mode can thankfully be transferred to your PS3 or PS4 via cloud saves. In RTTS you create a player and guide him through the ranks with the goal of him becoming the next big MLB superstar. Yes, you’ll notice the massive visual difference between playing the game at home and playing it on the Vita anywhere. But it’s nice to have the ability to carry your created player and stats around to show off if that’s your thing. While some players will get more of a “total” MLB experience by buying this game and one of the console versions, if you only own a Vita and love the sport, you’re taken care of quite well here. The Vita game seems more designed for solo play and the console versions pack in more features such as the deep Dynasty Dynasty mode. I’m also sure some of the sports more diehard fans will find plenty to nitpick about when it comes to complete accuracy. But this is the only game in town, so fans have to go with what’s here and shoot feedback to Sony about any improvements they feel are needed for future installments.
As for the audio, I’m not a huge baseball fan at all, so I can’t speak for the accuracy of how well the game does at bringing the ballpark experience home. However, the play-by-play featuring Matt Vasgersian (and some nice crowd sounds) is quite good overall. Of course, from watching or listening to the occasional Yankees game, I’d rather hear more local voices calling plays, but that’s a tradeoff in sports games as licensing every official announcer would probably cost as much as making the game. Not to mention the massive size of those sound files making for an impossible download size. There is some repetition in long games, particularly if you get into one of those long innings where there are a lot of foul balls hit into the stands or there’s a bit of a rally. Then again, all sports games have this issue. There are only so many ways to call the same plays after all.
Even with the lack of major online play modes and the lesser (but solid overall) visuals, MLB 15 The Show comes recommended if you’re a big baseball fan and also pick up the PS3 or PS4 versions. Having the ability to take the game on the road and hop back into it at home is a nice touch although a few more gameplay modes could have been added. Still, that’s what next year is always for when it comes to sports games, right? Improvements, innovations and something fans can be proud to whip out in public and brag incessantly about.
Edited by Alex Miller
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