Developer: SCEA San Diego
Medium: Blu-ray Disc, Digital
When I think back to the days of the PS One and into the PS2 days, I can’t help but think just how close to extinction Sony’s baseball franchise was when they were helmed by 989 Studios. This wasn’t just due to the fact that you had competition such as All Star Baseball, MVP, and the former greatest of all time High Heat baseball around, but the series just wasn’t shaping up very well and was quite a disappointment amongst gamers and sports fans. Fast forward to 2013 and not only does no one do it better than Sony, but they do it so well that it comes to no surprise why developers like EA haven’t stepped up to take them on. There’s no competition to be found with the exception of 2K Sports’ offering, which after a whopping 2 and ½ month development cycle, has put out a joke of a title in MLB 2K13. As of this moment the MLB The Show series is the most accurate, realistic, and pays greater attention to detail than any other sports franchise on the market today. It also boggles the mind that just when you think they have done all they are capable of doing, they add new feature and tweak improvements to the game play that not only out performs the previous year, but more than provides gamers with additions that merits the 60 dollar purchase year after year.
MLB 13: The Show once again proves true to form, as not only does it do everything great that the series has done in the past so well, but has added features and listened to the fans on what they would like to see as far as game play and physics changes are concerned. With over 50 enhancements and new features you are closer to virtually living a MLB experience than ever before. Toss in bigger cross platform play with the PS Vita, and you have not only the best baseball experience one could hope for, but now can take it any where as well.
Visually the game Is rock solid and shows off an even greater TV presence than before, complete with more broadcast presentations such as new cut scenes, specific player animations, cameras, and even audio that really makes the stadiums sound like cathedrals. The commentary gets some diversity, which is a change from the last 3 seasons, as they add Steve Lyons to the booth for some play by play updates that were sorely needed. The visual pop doesn’t end there as a new physics engine not only allows the game to play better, but look more realistic with misplayed balls, bloop singles, and an unpredictability to the ball that makes it really feel alive and ready to take that bad hop at any time (and sometimes it does). It isn’t just game to game where you will feel the presence of realism, as once you hit the post season, just like in real life, the intensity, excitement, and crowd presence is even greater. Let’s not forget that the game just looks so damn gorgeous that sometimes it can fool into believing that what they are seeing is in fact a real televised baseball game.
To say that The Show plays a wonderful game of baseball is an understatement as the game’s logic is so authentic that gamers will experience a 3 hit shutout one game, and a 13 run shellacking the next. The game really feeds off momentum and players can get streaky and just as quickly fall apart and go into a cold spell that will aggravate you as you try to get players to live up to their potential. A new, albeit “borrowed” feature from the MVP series in the form of a button accuracy meter has been added so if an off throw or errant toss into the stands happens; you can chalk it up to your doing. Toss in a catch button for the most realistic version of fielding, which while challenging, is more rewarding to those who can become accustom to it. For those gamers who found The Show too realistic, too hard to hit or pitch, or just too much of a challenge, you will be happy to know that the team has incorporated a beginners mode that will make the game more accessible and help gamers learn the fundamentals without getting frustrated too quickly. What’s more, this isn’t just an “easy” mode as the game has an adaptive A.I. that will dynamically update your skill level on the fly to tailor to how you play.
For those who are saying, “I already love The Show, what’s new for me?” The answer is simple…a lot. Besides the aforementioned improvements to game play, sound, and visuals, veteran gamers can expect improvements to season and franchise mode that have a greater focus on player development while creating a more realistic and dynamic league as time progresses. There is also a new budget system that has a greater reward/penalty system based on your team’s performance on the field. This will allow lower and mid market teams able to more successfully complete with big market teams if they are performing well as a unit. Lastly there is a new scouting and trading logic that requires more user participation in the decision making g process when dealing with directives, position changes, and even drafting a player.
Road to the Show has been reworked as well providing a more immersive and realistic on field experience that goes as far as even the commentary. Now you will hear only crowd chatter and on field player interactions unless a big moment or comment needs to be made, therein you will hear that in a radio style broadcast to keep what is being said about you in the booth up to date.
The improvements don’t end there as the Online Leagues have received an overhaul including being able to play the real MLB schedule with all 30 teams, complete with upgrades and refinements, such as being able to control the pace of the league. What’s more, the servers have seemed to have gotten a stability boost as I’ve played quite a few games not only without crashing, but very minimal hiccups tooboot.
Diamond Dynasty 2.0 provides gamers with more creative freedom including using a DH or not, and the Marketplace allows users to post and cancel orders with ease. Marketplace has become smarter and also does a better job in minimizing exploits.
If that wasn’t all, there is a new, once again “borrowed” feature called The Show Live. This exhibition based mode uses data from MLB.com that populates daily match-ups, line ups, starting pitchers, all live as each day progresses. If you are playing that day’s game you will play with the exact line up that is in probable for that day. If you play a past game you will play in the same game day situation that each time had for that day. Of course if you are playing a future game, you are playing with rosters and updates up to the day you are playing. This allows gamers who don’t have time for all the jazz of the deeper franchise or dynasty modes to enjoy The Show and either relive the previous night's come from behind victory, get revenge for their loss due to a misplay or bad call, or even attempt to predict the outcome of a game coming on later that day.
Unlike 2K13, “the other white meat”, MLB 13 The Show isn’t just a roster update to make a quick buck on the poor unsuspecting public. A ton of love, care, and attention, not only to the fundamentals, but to what the fans have been clamoring for have been answered in spades. The end result is in not only the best version this series has seen, and not only the most authentic and realistic baseball game created to date, but easily one of the best sports games this reviewer has ever played. I just thank Sony for not giving up on the great American past time all those fleeting years ago.