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MLB 14 The Show Is Broken

Written by Scot Rubin

There are only a handful of games that I play all year long. MLB The Show from Sony San Diego is one of them. It's always missing out on the spectacle of E3, because the latest release has already hit the streets. If you want info about arguably the greatest sports game franchise ever created, you'll usually get it in January as we get closer to spring training. MLB 14 The Show is actually the first baseball game to have no competition on game consoles. With MLB2K finally being put out of its misery, PlayStation owners had the only game in town, literally.

Normally this would not be an issue. MLB The Show is actually worth the price of a PlayStation 3 console for just this one game IMO. In fact, it was the only game I've repeatedly played on the aging console since 2012.  The game is not without the occassional bugs. Online play included a 3rd strike pitch in the dirt that would freeze the catcher allowing the batter to score an inside the park home run while the ball sat a few inches from home plate. Thankfully, that bug is gone this year but what's worse is that the game people consider the best simulation of a sport, has some serious visual glitches and high weirdness that makes the game mostly unplayable online against other human opponents.

This is not a problem for the millions of gamers who buy MLB The Show for the single player and franchise modes. The problem is a result of the developers rebuilding the online codebase from scratch. After a disasterous release in May, the developers issued this statement regarding the horribly sync issues occurring in online games.

This year, we strove to revamp our online gameplay from the ground up. The goal was to provide 100% parity with the feel and input response of our offline gameplay. We have accomplished much of this: input and timing for Batting, Pitching, and Fielding online all feel the same as offline with virtually zero latency. As a result of this overhaul and our emphasis on a minimal latency experience, a number of visual anomalies and issues of synchronization have manifested that we are actively identifying and working to resolve.

It is a process, one with growing pains, but we are confident the significant changes we’ve made this year will help to lay the foundation for a vastly improved online experience, both in terms of fixes we will deliver in the near future and also for subsequent entries in the series. We can also assure you that our highly anticipated PlayStation 4 debut will benefit from many of our immediate learnings and fixes from day one."

Some of the visual anomalies are just jarring, like when a ball disappears in mid air instead of being caught by the player standing a few feet away. Or when a ground ball that seemingly makes it into the hole is magically caught by a time warping 2nd baseman. Other anomalys affect strategy as you see a ball sail past the catcher, which causes you to advance the runner from third to score. But the ball didn't get by the catcher on your opponents screen, so you are called out at the plate. This happens all the time in various ways throughout the game.

The worst problem the game faces is freezing. Yep, frozen players, frozen games, frozen PlayStation. Most times you'll need to power off the PlayStation and start all over, taking a loss and a disconnect mark on your profile.

The development team released a patch, but it didn't fix the glaring issues of freezing, warping, and visual anomalies. Here it is over 2 months after release, and the problems still exist making online gameplay a crap shoot. Spend a half hour playing a glitch filled game, only to have it freeze up and force you to start over.

You can't return a video game for a full refund if the mode you play is broken. The majority of customers play offline modes, so they aren't really complaining that much. It's like having a copy/printer/fax machine that works incredible when directly connected to your computer, but leaves smears, smudges, and streaks on documents when connected via wifi. 

I'm pretty sure I'll be skipping launch day releases in the future, the only way publishers will stop releasing broken games is if people don't buy them. Sony put out a press release about record breaking sales, while the people that bought the game for online play were left rebooting their PlayStations and wasting time

 

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