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Will MLB 2014 The Show Be a Sony PlayStation 4 Home Run?

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 12 comments

We go hands-on with MLB 2014 for PS4.

Earlier this week, Sony held its February Showcase event in Santa Monica, CA, unveiling some of the new titles coming to the PlayStation 4, which has sold 4.2 million units across 53 countries since its launch. Those consumers have spent a collective average of 34 million hours per week on gaming, 50 hours on the system itself.

Other mind-bending stats: more than 90% of PS4s are connected in the U.S. (it took three years to get to 70% with the PS3); 48 million shares have been captured (it was 6.5 million in November, before PS4), and 1.7 million hours live streamed. One in three Vita owners now also have a PS4.

One more promise from Sony: There will be more than 100 games coming to PS4 in 2014, and that's what we were invited to see, including Sucker Punch's Infamous: Second Son, announced Wednesday for release in March, and San Diego Studio's MLB 2014 The Show, officially announced this morning, available on PlayStation 3 and Vita on April 1, and for PlayStation 4 in May. The timing for PS3 and Vita is set to coincide with the start of the 2014 baseball season. The delay for the PS4 version is due to the company's insistence on having every mode and feature available across all three platforms. In short, it's just not quite ready.

Sony revealed some of the changes coming in MLB 2014 The Show late last year, such as the features that will make playing a game faster, like Quick Counts, where the game automatically generates realistic pitch counts, or simply cutting back on presentations. You'll be able to take file saves between PS3 and PS4, and from MLB 2014 to MLB 2015 when the time comes.

There were still a few details left for later discussion, like a new Community Challenges function where players can bundle custom situations into a set of goals to challenge the community, and universal in-game currency (it's not what people might be afraid it is; you won't have to spend any real money, said Ramone Russel, the title's Game Designer and Community Manager).

But the real fun stuff came from seeing first hand MLB 2014's exploitation of the PlayStation 4 hardware, like the game's new lighting engine, which let the designers reflect sun more realistically off any surface, like hair, skin, metal, and the leather of a baseball mitt. A feature called subsurface scattering allows shadows to blend, rather than just stop with a hard edge. The San Diego Studios team showed the game on PS3 side-by-side and the difference was stunning.


The added geometry processing capability of the PS4 gave the design team the ability to make the players more realistic, including drawing more than 40,000 individual hairs onto the face of players like Mike Napoli, the heavily bearded Red Sox first baseman. (A character team does this by hand, for all players.)

The team had a budget of nearly a million polygons on the PS4, compared with 150,000 on the PS3.

The new version includes 42 different crowd member models, featuring hundreds of hats, sunglasses and uniforms, and kids in the crowd, according to Russell. There are more than 500 unique crowd signs, including custom ones for star players. The crowd models use 1600 polygons on the PS3 and over 10,000 on the PS4, which essentially means the game is using player models from the PS3 in the crowd on the PS4.

The PS3 had 250 fielding animations, Russell said, and the PS4 has about 500. He said that the animation suite was completely redone for this version of MLB The Show.


The stadiums have been completely rebuilt, with added depth to the signage and animated flags thanks to four times the texture resolution. A ball rolling in the grass affects the grass, which is rendered blade-by-blade. All that was missing was the smell, but then again pitchers and catchers have been reporting for spring training in real life this week.

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  • 2 Hide
    Blazer1985 , February 13, 2014 11:25 AM
    "A feature called subsurface scattering allows shadows to blend, rather than just stop with a hard edge." Nope. It allows the engine to simulate the scattering of light passing through a medium (usually used for skin). The featured described is usually called "soft shadows" and there are quite a few different implementations.
  • 1 Hide
    FritzEiv , February 13, 2014 11:50 AM
    Quote:
    "A feature called subsurface scattering allows shadows to blend, rather than just stop with a hard edge." Nope. It allows the engine to simulate the scattering of light passing through a medium (usually used for skin). The featured described is usually called "soft shadows" and there are quite a few different implementations.
    Thanks for adding this clarification. Ramone Russell explained it the way I wrote it, but he also added that the lighting engine was spreading the light across the skin, as you describe. I did ask about which implementation they were using, but a company spokesman said they weren't prepared to discuss it at this time. Hopefully I can get a more detailed look at this in the future.
  • 0 Hide
    Blazer1985 , February 13, 2014 12:16 PM
    You're welcome Fritz, nice article by the way :-)
  • 0 Hide
    masmotors , February 13, 2014 1:20 PM
    so is it fun at least
  • 0 Hide
    somebodyspecial , February 13, 2014 11:04 PM
    Right, to me the only question is, is it fun? I couldn't care less about the state of graphics today as all look ok. I'm more interested in say madden, but with ZERO graphics changes, just make the PLAY better. I no longer give my money to sports games that just keep upping graphics with the same crap results for actual PLAY. Pretty is just like win8. What's the point in pretty if I don't want to use it? Start making FUCNTIONAL games that are FUN to play. No these 7-15hr glamor glitz graphics fests that just suck in a few hours of play when you realize it really is...JUST PRETTY.
  • -1 Hide
    ubercake , February 14, 2014 12:13 PM
    I try to like console gaming, but every time I go back and game on my PC with 2 780s, I know the console is all about family room convenience. I like the other functionality of the consoles more than the games.There's no comparing even this gen with a good gaming PC.These screenshots and even videos of the games on next-gen consoles are lame in comparison. I was looking at graphics this good on a PC five years ago.
  • 0 Hide
    slyu9213 , February 14, 2014 12:25 PM
    Quote:
    I try to like console gaming, but every time I go back and game on my PC with 2 780s, I know the console is all about family room convenience. I like the other functionality of the consoles more than the games.There's no comparing even this gen with a good gaming PC.These screenshots and even videos of the games on next-gen consoles are lame in comparison. I was looking at graphics this good on a PC five years ago.
    When will people stop with these comments. It's obvious that PC games look better. What can you expect when the PC hardware are more advanced and cost more at the same time. The difference is you get more hardware in the PS4/Xbox One compared to an equivalent PC. Plus the DirectX API cannot compare to the low level API of consoles. The best PC can do is everyone implement Mantle or a similar API. With consoles having the same hardware it's easier for developers to optimize games and squeeze out every little bit of performance that it has. In this situation any sports game that has come out to the PC is a port of a console so the PC can't have a better graphical game for sports compared to consoles. If sports games have good graphics for PC it will be because the next generation of consoles improve.
  • 0 Hide
    ubercake , February 14, 2014 12:28 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    I try to like console gaming, but every time I go back and game on my PC with 2 780s, I know the console is all about family room convenience. I like the other functionality of the consoles more than the games.There's no comparing even this gen with a good gaming PC.These screenshots and even videos of the games on next-gen consoles are lame in comparison. I was looking at graphics this good on a PC five years ago.
    When will people stop with these comments. It's obvious that PC games look better. What can you expect when the PC hardware are more advanced and cost more at the same time. The difference is you get more hardware in the PS4/Xbox One compared to an equivalent PC. Plus the DirectX API cannot compare to the low level API of consoles. The best PC can do is everyone implement Mantle or a similar API. With consoles having the same hardware it's easier for developers to optimize games and squeeze out every little bit of performance that it has. In this situation any sports game that has come out to the PC is a port of a console so the PC can't have a better graphical game for sports compared to consoles. If sports games have good graphics for PC it will be because the next generation of consoles improve.

    So in a decade, when the console graphics look as good as PCs a decade prior, what is the point of squeaking every last ounce out of obsolete hardware? It seems like the discrepancy in quality between PC graphics and console graphics is bigger than it's ever been. It's pretty sad.
  • 0 Hide
    angryfingertips , February 18, 2014 1:56 PM
    Quote:
    I try to like console gaming, but every time I go back and game on my PC with 2 780s, I know the console is all about family room convenience. I like the other functionality of the consoles more than the games.There's no comparing even this gen with a good gaming PC.These screenshots and even videos of the games on next-gen consoles are lame in comparison. I was looking at graphics this good on a PC five years ago.
    I need to build a PC for someone and they what graphics as good as PS4, let me know what parts I need and don't go over $400.
  • 0 Hide
    ubercake , February 19, 2014 6:09 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    I try to like console gaming, but every time I go back and game on my PC with 2 780s, I know the console is all about family room convenience. I like the other functionality of the consoles more than the games.There's no comparing even this gen with a good gaming PC.These screenshots and even videos of the games on next-gen consoles are lame in comparison. I was looking at graphics this good on a PC five years ago.
    I need to build a PC for someone and they what graphics as good as PS4, let me know what parts I need and don't go over $400.


    It's all about budget. For $400, there's no PC that would look that good today. You'd have to spend double that and more for a PC to start seeing the real difference between console and PC gaming - not to mention keyboard and mouse costs. So if you need to game today and can't wait, pick up a PS4 or Xbox One.

    If you have the patience to save quite a bit more money for a decent gaming PC, your patience will pay off tremendously. The downside is once you're accustomed to something better than the console, it's really hard to go back to console gaming.
  • 0 Hide
    makaveli316 , March 8, 2014 2:43 AM
    @ ubercakeYou forget that there's no way a soccer, football, baskeball, baseball game would look better on pc, no matter how much it costs.Take for example nba 2k or Fifa, on PC they suck. Not only the graphics are different, but the gameplay is also worse.Sports game are and were always better on consoles.
  • 0 Hide
    ubercake , March 10, 2014 4:12 AM
    Quote:
    @ ubercakeYou forget that there's no way a soccer, football, baskeball, baseball game would look better on pc, no matter how much it costs.Take for example nba 2k or Fifa, on PC they suck. Not only the graphics are different, but the gameplay is also worse.Sports game are and were always better on consoles.


    Most new sports games, even if they're crumby console ports, look a little better on PC and can be played with a 360 or PS3 style controller at framerates well above 60fps. There is no lack of responsiveness in the controls. I'm not sure how it's better on a console?

    Back in the day, EA's NHL series in the late 90s and early 2000s was incredible on PC compared to any console version. Blew everything away. Now the sports games are primarily console ports. The multi-season stats and player development over seasons were like nothing else.

    Nowadays, NBA 2K basketball series plays the same on PC and the graphics are a bit better than any console. You can play it with a 360 controller the same way you'd play it on the console. MLB 2K is nice, but looks like the best on any console.

    FIFA looks great on the PC and plays the same as on a console (again with a 360 controller), but again a console port with almost no graphical improvement to be had.

    I refused to play Madden when EA signed an exclusive with the NFL since their game sucked compared to the NFL 2K series, so I don't even know about football.

    Any sports game plays at least the same on PC as it does on a console. Most sports games can be set to look a bit better than what you get on a console from a graphics standpoint.

    If you only play sports games, there is a strong value proposition for getting a cheap PS4 or Xbox One console. You'll get no argument from me there. It's all about budget.