Despite its modest price point, MLB 15 – The Show for the Vita brings a major update to this long-running sports franchise, and is quite possibly the most content-rich downloadable title on the PSN.
The reason why this is probably the most content-rich title is hidden right there in the intro – MLB 15 – The Show is only available as a digital download and not in physical format. This doesn’t mean that this is a bare-bones release, as the package comes in at over 3gb of data – an amount usually reserved for games that can also be bought in cartridge form. Still, not everything that can be found in the PS4 and PS3 versions made it onto the Vita platform.
What’s missing? The PS4’s power provides real time sun and shadow calculations and some of the (crowd) animations and movies also didn’t make it. The console versions also feature things like licensed equipment, a reward system that gives you XP to spend and a radio show that updates you on what’s going on in the world of baseball. So…. just a revamp of last year’s edition with a new roster then? Nope… despite of what’s missing, we were happy to see that the Vita-specific version still got plenty of love from its developers.
Leading the pack is a new system for directional hitting,which allows for more control over where your strikes end up after a successful hit. In the past, this was mostly due to timing…. strike early and your ball goes left, strike late and your ball goes to the right. Or the other way around if you’re a leftie. Now – you have the ability to influence your hit using the L-stick, making more effective use of your hitter’s strenghts and the strategic opportunities that you have. If you have a runner on third, then directional control gives you the opportunity to get him home safe and sound.
Another major new feature is that your old save games carry over to the new version of the games – no matter which gameplay mode you were using before. Season, Franchise and Road to the Show progress carries over, even though the Franchise Mode was overhauled for the 2015 edition. The heart of the game is still the actual gameplay on the field, but developer SCE San Diego really updated the managerial aspects of the game by adding both complexity (in terms of factors to include) and extra insights (in terms of stats and records) to the mode.
The game’s graphics also got an upgrade this year – because although some of the content ‘off the field’ is missing (like jumbotron animations), the players look and move better than they ever did before on a portable system. That massive download, in this regard, definitely pays off.
Rating MLB 15 – The Show isn’t easy when looking at the Vita version. Baseball is a sport that partly relies on atmosphere, and that’s where most of the content was stripped to fit the Vita platform. However, what was left is a solid basis for a fun and rich baseball game – and easily the best rendition of the sport on a handheld system. Portable gamers who are fans of the sport need look no further – but you’ll find the console versions more rewarding in terms of atmosphere and split-screen functionality.