Console baseball games are few and far between these days. MLB 14: The Show is the latest entry in the Sony-produced series, and basically the only option for fans of baseball sims. It’s one of the first sports games to come out on the next-gen console generation (the PS4 in this case), and accordingly, it’s graphically quite sexy. If you’ve ever paid attention, crowds in sports games have been laughably terrible for a long time, so I’m excited to see some much-needed diversity in crowd animations.
Anyway, being a sim-style sports game, there are a ton of modes to choose from, and of course, an equal number number of menus to go through. I started playing through the Road to the Show mode, which has me creating and controlling a lowly minor league ballplayer. Playing through games earns experience, allowing me to build up my minor leaguer’s stats, and waiting for that call-up to the majors.
Along the way, MLB 14 has some difficulties in the way of usability. I almost expect it at this point – that these big sim-style sports games have terrible menus – but that doesn’t make it any better.
In a recent blog post, I talked about how MLB 2K12 takes way too long due to some very realistic ballpark animations. The best way to shorten your game is to turn on “hurry up mode” – basically, it’s like the game is constantly pressing the A button for you to skip the animations (think of the wear and tear on your controller!)
I could think of less awkward ways for the game to speed things along, but that’s not the point of this post. The point is, the menu option where you pick hurry up mode acts really strangely if you aren’t paying close attention to what’s going on. It’s not ever a good idea to break the laws of physics, and I’d say that’s especially true in a game’s menu system.
Title screens. Nearly every console and PC game has one. Back in the arcades, the title screen was the tollbooth of the highway of gaming bliss. But with a game that you’ve already purchased, what is the title screen really doing for us these days? And a better question, why do a lot of games delay loading content until after the title screen?
In the last article, I talked about how the realistic use of animations in MLB 2K12 makes the game take way too long to play. While the animations are pretty, after you see them once or twice it’s easy to realize that they don’t offer the player any lasting benefit. This time, I’m here to tell you that in another case, the lack of animation causes a serious usability problem in MLB 2K12.
When creating a player, there are all kinds of things you can customize – the equipment they use, what color socks they wear, and all manner of things about your pro-to-be’s body shape. As I was building the San Diego Padres’ next superstar closer, I was excited to see the detailed controls for customizing the player’s face – there are two two-dimensional sliders that you control with both of your controller’s thumbsticks. That’s a serious control for some seriously detailed customization. But take a look at what happens when you’re adjusting these sliders: Continue reading →
Among the major sports, baseball is unique in that it isn’t governed by a time clock. Football (both American football and soccer), basketball, hockey, all of those games are done when the referee sees the clock tick down to zero. In baseball, you get 27 outs, and sometimes more. Depending on your point of view, that can be a good or bad thing. Regardless though, it’s part of the reason baseball is often called a “slow” game, with real life games clocking in at an average of nearly 3 hours.
MLB 2K12, another iteration of 2K Sports’ annual baseball sim, does a pretty great job at capturing the “essence” of major league baseball. That also means it can take forever to play a game. Mostly, I blame this on the annoyingly realistic way the batter and pitcher take their sweet time between pitches. Continue reading →