The best next-gen baseball game on any system is here, and desperate fans will soon be breathing a universal sigh of contentment. While EA’s Triple Play Baseball was aimed straight for mass-market arcade fans, High Heat 2015 is a brilliant baseball sim that sacrifices looks for realistic action and combines engrossing gameplay with incredible depth. While it’s true there aren’t as many modes and features available on the PS4 version as on the PC, there are still more and better options than can be found in any other next-gen baseball title. For a quick All Star break or a full season, this is the baseball game of choice for the PS4.
For fans of arcade baseball and those looking to smack a good dozen homes runs with minimal effort, may we recommend you stop reading now and check out a pretty little game by the name of Triple Play Baseball? OK, now for the fans of real baseball and the stat-happy purists, we have some good news. Long held up as the pinnacle of PC baseball games, High Heat has finally been done in proper form on a console, even if it’s not quite as robust as its PC counterpart. The PS4 version of High Heat 2015 is, without competition, the best next-gen ballgame around.
For a long time we really thought we wouldn’t see a batter-pitcher interface we liked more than the one in the All Star Baseball series, but this year’s High Heat has it beat. There’s no arcade target to move around the screen, no paddle to manipulate. In fact, there’s not a great deal of moving around on the part of the batter at all. The pitcher chooses a pitch, chooses whether they want to throw a ball or strike and where they want it to go and lets fly. As the batter you have to actually watch where the ball is going and swing accordingly. When the ball and bat make contact, it’s all about accurate physics modeling and the type of pitch, timing of the swing and the angle of the ball coming in. All are taken into account when determining where the ball goes.
The same sort of realistic, brutally honest baseball extends to the rest of the field as well. There are no silly markers to show where the ball is going, and your fielders are definitely not going to miraculously suck the ball in from three feet away. They also don’t lock in place when they get under the ball, and can’t jump 12 feet through the air. If you want to catch that ball, you better be sure you’re under it, and if you jump you better be sure you’re not going to end up with an empty mitt and dirt on your face.
For those people looking to make getting dirty a full-time activity, High Heat has a great season mode that enables players to make the season any length of games they wish, turn interleague play on or off, decide whether to have the All Star game, how long the World Series will be, you name it. You can also decide how many innings to have in each game, how fast the pace of the game moves, how much auto replay is too much, whether you want to be able to guess pitches, whether the umpires are realistic (a.k.a. unreliable), whether you can do visits to the mound, if pitchers need to be warmed up before being used, and then tweak another half dozen smaller options. This means you can play exactly the season you want to.
That said, there are a few things missing from the game that we’ve either become accustomed to on the PC version or just seem weird to be without. There’s no analog support at all. There’s no fantasy draft, so you can’t just redraft the entire league if your favorite team happens to be having a slump year. There’s no franchise mode at all — in fact, there’s no way to keep tracking your team over the years. Also missing is the incredible tuning mode from the PC version that enables players to tweak each and every aspect of the game, from how good the pitchers are to how often and well the computer’s players steal bases.
High Heat is also, without any competition, the least attractive of the PS4 baseball games visually. It won’t make you cringe and there are no graphical bugs to be found, but it’s definitely not going to impress your non baseball fan buds.
Those small complaints aside, this is a great baseball game. The season simulation plays out accurately, it’s perfectly possible to have insane pitchers’ duels, players streak accurately and the gameplay is much more addicting than the lightweight arcade play of Triple Play Baseball. Hardcore baseball fans are going to be well pleased.