Review – MLB 13: The Show (PS3/PS Vita)

By: Louis Edwards

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MLB13 PS3 COVERSHEET FINAL 011713_NOT4PRINT

The baseball season is rapidly approaching and Spring training is in full swing. This can only mean one thing. Time to fire up your gaming device and set your sights on the Major League. Is this year’s release worthy of The Show or is it better off muddled in the minors?

Read our review to find out.

 

The MLB: The Show series has been called the most authentic baseball simulator anywhere. The addition of the Move controller in 2011 was a step in the right direction and cross game save between the PS3 and PS Vita in last year’s release was another big step for developer San Diego Studios. This year’s release is tasked with building upon all of those previous bells and whistles, and adding enough new ones to warrant another purchase.

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One thing missing from all previous titles was the ability to jump in and get on the fast track to the World Series. In order to get to the post season, one had to play through a season, and then qualify by winning either your division or a Wild Card spot. If you are going to play through a season anyway, no big deal, but if you wanted to just jump into the playoffs and win it all quickly, there wasn’t an option. Now there is.

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You can opt to start your team as a Wild Card and have a one game playoff, or choose to win your division and wait for the results of that playoff game. Either way, the playoff atmosphere will give you a much louder crowd with both cheers and jeers, depending on if you are home or away. It’s a great addition that adds to the already great overall experience of the game.

MLB 12 for the PS3 introduced us to Online Home Run Derby as a way to match up against friends and strangers on the PlayStation Network. MLB 13 brings that back, but with another great addition and that is the ability to play cross platform between the PS3 and the PS Vita. This means that there will be more opponents to choose from regardless of your platform of choice. If you only had the Vita version in the past, you weren’t able to play the HRD online. With MLB 13 not only can you play online, but you can play against PS3 owners as well. A smart move by SD Studios, and hopefully this means total cross platform play in all modes will be arriving soon.

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New to this year’s release is Beginner Mode. For those of you that are new to baseball video games, this is a great way to jump right in and start playing. The new mode will start you out on the easiest possible settings, and then adapt to your skill level as you improve on the fly. This is a great mode for the younger players that need to be walked through the game and taught how to play it. The advancement is solely based on how well they perform.

Also added this year is a new Push/Pull Hitting Trajectories engine. When you hit select during the pitcher-batter matchup, the in-game screen it will show you if the current hitter is Extreme Pull, Pull Hitter, Balanced, Opposite field Hitter, or an Extreme Opposite field hitter. Both A.I. and human hitters will hit more balls to their preferred side according to this attribute. You can use this data for defensive alignments and pitch location. The system is a nice addition that adds to the overall authenticity of the game.

This year’s release reworked several aspects of RTTS to give the game a more immersive and realistic feel. The revamped on-field sound system enhances hundreds of new sound FX, player yells, and crowd sounds so they are heard prominently and realistically from the player’s perspective on the field. This is very noticeable as a base runner as you can tell, when using a surround sound system, the third base coaches voice by location. More than once I have found myself looking to the left of my TV thinking there was someone standing there yelling at me to TAKE THREE. The removal of the “Green Light” base stealing system by your manager was a welcome change that was much needed. Honestly, they should have given us the option to turn that off in the past, but the removal of it altogether is very welcome.

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The Road to the Show tweaked a few things but the minor league manager’s logic is still flawed at times. If you are on a sustained hot streak, hitting .400 or better, you shouldn’t have to ask to be moved to the top half of the batting order. A player in the middle of a lengthy hitting streak should not be batting eighth or ninth and he shouldn’t have to beg to be moved up to third or fourth. Despite this logic, the game still shines in RTTS mode.The one drawback from having an annual release of a game like this, though, is the inability to carry your RTTS guy over to the next edition. Having to start over every year is a bit cumbersome and I must admit that I still play MLB 10: The Show (PSP Download) on my Vita from time to time just to continue my Hall of Fame career from that edition.

For those that enjoy being in complete control of a franchise, the changes to the Franchise Mode might make the game more fulfilling for you. The focus is now on player development, which is how must successful franchises are ran in the real world. While free agency might be a good way to pick up an ace pitcher, that star short stop or second baseman would be cheaper if you can get him out of your farm system. A new monetary reward and penalty system that is based on how well your team plays adds to the realism of the game as well.

A new Scouting and Training System in Franchise Mode incorporates a human element into the system, which affects the user’s decision making process when dealing with scouting directives, position changes and, ultimately, drafting a player. You can then focus on the needs of the team and the future of your franchise.

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Diamond Dynasty, the card trading and team building game, returns with MLB 13 and adds the DH. You can now play by either AL or NL rules in your own home park. The user system has been tweaked and overhauled so as to make card trading more fluid and easier to navigate. Cards have more information on them now and that makes it a little easier to make the best selections for your team.

The sound, graphics and animations for this series have always been above and beyond just about any other sports game on the market and MLB 13: The Show continues that trend. New batter and pitcher animations that mimic all of the big names, and the up and comers, have been added to the already long list of player’s animations. Stadiums are spot on replications of their real life counter parts, and they even added more minor league and Spring training stadiums. This is a game that not only looks great, but plays great as well and is easy on the eyes. The audio from the field really does make you feel like you are actually there in the middle of the action.

Another new addition is the Universal Profile which provides a central hub for any statistics a user records while playing The Show. Regardless of the modes or platform played, stats will be tracked and viewable in a user’s profile. In addition, profiles will have levels associated with them. As a user plays, they accumulate experience (xp) towards their profile’s level. Users now work towards a universal progression system whenever they play, regardless of the mode or platform they play on. This system is shared across the PS3 and the PS Vita, so owning both will give you a way to keep adding XP even when you are on the road.

MLB 13 The Show

With all annual sports franchises there’s one question we must all answer. Does the newest edition add enough to the game to warrant a new purchase? With MLB 13: The Show, the answer is a resounding yes. If you own a PS Vita, owning both is a great way to literally take your RTTS guy on the road.

Well done San Diego Studios. Well done.

9

The Final Verdict

ProsCons

  • Well designed physics
  • Impressive graphics
  • Well designed RTTS mode
  • Great sounds put you in the middle of the action

  • No carry over for past RTTS guys
  • Can minor league managers really be this dumb at times?

VerdictA great addition to the MLB family
Rating
90%
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    how do you play your friends online???

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