Stepping up to the plate, Sony delivers yet another home run in the highly acclaimed baseball franchise. After last year’s stunning offering, Sony has found a way to provide numerous updates to the core gameplay mechanics, animations and more to make MLB 13: The Show the most complete baseball game ever released.
While last year’s game was able to snag a 9.0 from SelectButton, MLB 13 makes slight adjustments to the formula that fixes most of the issues I had with the series in the past. The hitting engine has received many new improvements to provide a wider range of hit variety in each game. The ball physics have been tweaked from last year’s title, resulting in a more realistic flow to the game. Overall hitting should be slightly easier thanks to the wider timing window, which should help produce more base hits in each game. If scores get way out of control, there are plenty of sliders allowing for adjustments in just about every human and AI category imaginable.
Throwing the ball as a fielder has always included the random chance for the throw to miss the intended target and either wind up in the dirt or in the stands, but now that is in the past. If you are like me, frustration would build up immensely because the game was essentially taking away control. With the new accuracy meter, errors are now the fault of the player and not because the game decided the accuracy and strength of the throw at random. “Preloading” the throw before catching the ball, ensures the ball is promptly released after it is caught. Quite essential when attempting to turn a double play.
If you have always wanted to dive into a virtual version of America’s pastime, but have been worried about the steep learning curve, the included Beginner Mode vastly increases the accessible of The Show as it helps gamers of all skill levels learn the necessary fundamentals. Don’t worry about it staying too easy forever, as the AI system is completely adaptive, dynamically updating depending on your skill level.
MLB 13: The Show brings back all of the fan-favorite game modes, while the included new modes will soon become fan-favorites. Skipping through the grueling 162-game season, the Postseason Mode allows you to head straight to the playoffs. The crowd and the presentation truly give off the vibe that you can only get from October baseball. The first thing I have always looked for when loading up a new baseball game for as long as I can remember has been the Home Run Derby. It has everything I enjoy watching in baseball: home runs and umm…home runs. With no friends that share my love for the sport, so the inclusion of not only an online mode, but a Cross Platform Home Run Derby with players on the PlayStation Vita version of the game is a dream come true. The game doesn’t mark which platform other players are using, but the interface works flawlessly between them. The pitch for each player is delivered at roughly the same moment, allowing you to see the result of everyone’s swing along with your own as rainbow colored lines fill the screen following the ball.
Both the Franchise and Season modes have new improvements to player development, as well as a new team budget system that rewards and penalizes teams depending on their performance. Road to the Show, which allows you to create your own player and take him through every stage of a player’s career, from Double A to the Majors. A lot of time and effort has been spent on the presentation to immerse the player more than ever before. There are literally hundreds of new presentation scenes, camera angles and animations that make you feel like you are in the ballpark. You can almost smell the freshly mowed grass.
As a Third Baseman and spending a couple years leading the Trenton Thunder in home runs and RBI’s, I finally got my shot at the majors and stardom at Yankee Stadium, only to be traded to the San Diego Padres. Even in a videogame, the Yankee’s can’t get out of A-Rod’s ridiculous contract. Pitching still feels good with the same different options as the series had last year. I still prefer pulse pitching, which was introduced in MLB 12: The Show, since it provides the right amount of challenge and takes in effect the pitcher’s energy and confidence as the game progresses.
Hoping to bring the ultimate baseball experience to gamers, The Show Live pulls in various data from MLB.com and populates it with daily match-ups, line-ups and starting pitchers. Essentially, you will be able to play real-life match-ups that day or ones in the past or future. The commentary should revolve around the previous day’s results or even upcoming games for your team of choice, but since the season doesn’t open until March 31, it’s hard to tell how much information will be provided in each game.
Although Steve Lyons joins the commentary team this year, I still found it lacking the energy and realism that I found in NBA 2K13. It does a good job of going through the motions, but is missing the charm of playful banter between plays. I was pleasantly surprised after hitting a homerun with Robinson Cano, to hear “Robbie Cano don’t you know”. John Sterling, the New York Yankees radio play-by-play announcer uses that exact line any time Cano hits a home run.
Visually, MLB 13: The Show blurs the line of realism. On a technical standpoint it may not appear to be improved when compared to last year’s game, but the new fielding animations, swing animations and batting animations are quite impressive. After creating your own player, not only do you select from over 150 batting stance animations, but it has been expanded to allow players to choose from different swing, home run and idle animations to truly customize your player. There still are the occasional glitches such as players running through each other as well as through the the wall in the outfield. While trying to leap off the wall to catch a flyball, Curtis Granderson, the Yankee’s center fielder ended up going through the wall and found himself in the bullpen without the ball. Replays can be recorded and stored on your PS3 hard drive just for such an occasion.
Instead of reinventing itself every year, Sony has done a commendable job at polishing the already unbeatable solid gameplay that has blessed the series for the past few years. There are a ton of plenty of upgrades that warrant the purchase and considering the launch of the PlayStation 4 at the end of the year, MLB 13: The Show is a great way to end the franchise on the PlayStation 3.Note: MLB 13: The Show was reviewed on PlayStation 3. A physical copy of the game provided by the publisher.