Sony’s MLB The Show is a perennial hit with baseball aficionados for its true-to-life gameplay and endlessly addicting franchise and player development modes. This year’s MLB The Show 13 is no different, and like other sports franchise annual releases, the changes here can seem incremental rather than revolutionary. There are your usual graphical improvements, which look great, as well as tweaks to gameplay to make the whole experience all the more immersive. But the overarching theme behind many of the new features seems to be getting players right into the action, with additions like beginner mode, Post Season mode, and a simplified Play Now mode. While all these additions help new players get into the game, the learning curve for The Show 13 is still steep, which can make the game frustrating at times. However, stick with it and you’ll be rewarded with one of the most realistic sports simulation experiences out there.
Graphics, Presentation, and Gameplay
While it may not have a fancy new feature like Madden NFL 13′s Infinity Physics Engine, MLB The Show 13 looks great. So great, in fact, that many would mistake the idle demos for real life games—myself included. It’s not a huge leap from last year’s game, but Sony also claims to have added hundreds of new player animations, from batting stances to pitching deliveries. All of it adds up to a breathtakingly realistic game. Even players’ faces look less dead-in-the-eyes than their Madden counterparts.
Commentary this year is handled by Matt Vasgersian, Eric Karros, and Steve Lyons. For the most part, it served as mildly interesting, and somewhat relevant filler in between the action. There’s good variation, but your usual generic play calls that make you reach for the mute button after long playing sessions. The camera angles and cut scenes are true to a real MLB broadcast, which was great, but I also found the replays to be lacking at times. For instance, after a hard hit line drive, the replay featured an awkwardly zoomed in shot of Johan Santana dodging a ball that didn’t even appear close to hitting him.
The major aspects of gameplay, like pitching and batting, remain largely unchanged. You still have a choice between classic, analog, and zone hitting or pulse pitching. New to this year’s game is a fielding accuracy meter, which forces players to time button presses just right for the most accurate throw. Like last year’s game, MLB The Show 13 is a tough game to master. Beginner mode, which is new to this year’s game, allows for a more pick-up-and-play feel, but I also found it to be a bit too easy. And the step up from beginner to experienced mode is huge.
MLB The Show’s bread and butter has been its franchise and Road to The Show modes, which remain largely unchanged in this year’s game. You’ll find new scouting and training additions in franchise mode, while Road to The Show gives players even more control over their virtual creations. Above all, the experience has been streamlined and simplified to make it easier to digest the wealth of information available.
The biggest addition is Post Season mode, which cuts through the grueling 162 game season and puts players right in the thick of October. You can pick a team, or a number of teams, and still have access to head-to-head and co-op games, while focusing on games that actually matter. It adds a little more drama to the game by raising the stakes from the monotony of a full season to a hard-fought run towards to the World Series. While it’s definitely a boon for impatient players, like myself, who like to simulate to the good stuff anyway, it hardly qualifies as groundbreaking stuff here.
Should You Buy It?
It’s hard to find fault with MLB The Show 13—it’s a stellar sports sim that is worthy of the highest praise. However, keep in mind, this year’s iteration is an incremental upgrade at best. The amazing graphics, challenging gameplay, and addicting franchise and Road to The Show modes are still here, but they also haven’t taken many steps forward from The Show 12. If you owned last year’s game, there seems to be little reason to upgrade here, unless you’re a diehard Andrew McCutchen fan and hate having to labor through full-length virtual seasons. Still, for newcomers or those who have spent some time away from the series, The Show 13 is a top notch game that will provide hours of fun—as long as you’re ready to put in the hours to master it, of course.
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|ESRB Rating||E for Everybody|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc