Now that baseball season is officially in swing, we're ready to hit a few out of the park with Sony's MLB 14: The Show. Like previous games in the series, this entry nails the thrill of baseball, from the triumph of striking out batters to avoiding a home run. If you love baseball, this is the game for you.
If you're just picking up the series for the first time or need a refresher on how to score runs, these beginners tips will help you rule the scoreboard. Make sure to grab plenty of peanuts and Cracker Jacks.
MLB 14: The Show lets you select from a number of pitches, then direct the ball into the proper area, depending where you want it to go. When facing off against batters, you'll want to avoid lobbing the ball into red zones that indicate where they're most likely to get a hit. Instead, look for weaker spots.
Next, you'll want to make sure you achieve accuracy. You'll have a pitching meter where you must hurl the ball in the right area, or else you could send it flying out of the strike zone, or worse yet, into the range of a batter's swing. Practice this a few times – you'll have the option to do so – and make sure the meter is perfectly adjusted for you through the Options menu. Once you're all set, send a few fastballs past the other team.
While the fastball may seem like the best pitch – it's quite effective when you use it right – it also makes you predictable when you lean on it too much. Pitchers have a lot of throws available, including curveballs, sliders and specialties. Mix them up whenever you can, even if you have a preference. This way, your opponent won't have a good idea what you're throwing.
When it comes to making contact with the ball, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
First, when a batter steps into the box, he'll have two separate ratings – power and contact. A huge power number indicates that he's more likely to hit it towards the outfield, or better yet, over the fence for a home run. Meanwhile, a higher contact number means he can hit the ball better than most. Usually, pitchers and some other players won't have high marks, so there's only so much you can do.
In deciding to go for it or play it safe, it depends on the situation. If you have a batter who is good at both power and contact, and you have someone on second or third base who may be able to run home, you may be tempted to go with an outfield hit rather than shooting for the home run. Sometimes the contact swing is the safest bet you can make – although it can also work against you if an in-fielder manages to get a hold of it.
Try to direct your hit in the intended zone, even if you're going for a home run. This way, you'll have a better chance of getting a power hit into the outfield and possibly past an outfielder expecting it. Otherwise, stick with contact and try to hit between the gaps, as the ball will roll into the outfield.
In case you need a refresher – or want to see if you prefer analog or button batting – try your luck in the Home Run Derby. This is a great place to hone your skill and see what your star batter is capable of.
With outfielding, a new dynamic camera makes it easier to see where the ball goes, though you’ll need to adjust if you're used to the setup from previous games.
When a ball is hit into the outfield, you'll generally see an outline of where the ball will end up, and the shadow will grow smaller as the ball gets closer to the ground. Don't try to make an out-of-range player hustle to grab it. Let the closest guy to the ball make the easy grab.
In addition, if you think a ball's going over the fence, direct the player towards it. Chances are you just might catch it and prevent a run.
Once you catch the fly ball, if you see someone on base making an advance, don't waste any time lobbing the ball over there. Even though it's a long ways off, you just might catch them by surprise and tag them out. If worse comes to worse, you can always throw it home and prevent the score if you think it'll be too late to tag them on base.
Practice makes perfect with outfielding. If you prefer, you can always set it to automatic in the options menu if it becomes too tough, and the AI will do the work for you.
Now check out the best teams in MLB 14.
MLB 14: The Show is available now for PlayStation 3 and PS Vita, and comes out May 6th on PlayStation 4.