Loosened-up hitting and subtle refinements make MLB 13: The Show another spectacular baseball game.
- Hitting adjustments make it easier and more satisfying to lay wood on the ball
- Beginner mode and other tweaks make this version of The Show more approachable than ever
- Beautiful visuals and great situational sound effects on the diamond
- Road to the Show remains one of the most addictive experiences in sports gaming
- The complete package when it comes to re-creating Major League Baseball.
- No significant new modes or features
- Lengthy load times, which can be especially aggravating in Road to the Show.
Baseball rites of spring are many and varied. From the day that pitchers and catchers report through Opening Day, it seems like not a moment goes by in the springtime without baseball fans noticing how the grand old game is getting warmed up for another season. Now you can add the annual early-March release date of Sony's Cooperstown-caliber MLB: The Show series to the calendar. The game hitting stores has become a big reason for baseball fans to celebrate. And the 2013 edition of this long-running Sony-exclusive series is another masterful re-creation of real baseball, from the pitcher-batter duel at the heart of the game through little moments like getting jammed inside and the satisfaction of turning even a routine 6-4-3 double play. Changes and improvements are subtle for the most part, although some superb tweaks to hitting make the game more approachable than ever. As a result, MLB 13: The Show hits a near-perfect balance between simulation-style realism and the pure arcade thrill of hammering ball with bat.
At first glance, however, MLB 13 doesn't look or sound much different from last year's model. That said, it's one of the best-looking sports games out there, and it would be hard to improve things. Shadow effects are more lifelike than before, especially in day games. Animations include even more running and fielding actions, to the point where you rarely see a player do the same thing twice. Faces are more rounded with realistic features. There doesn't seem to be a player you can't identify upon first glance, whether you're talking about the grizzled, bearded R.A. Dickey or a peach-fuzzed kid like Mike Trout. All that seems to be lacking are some tattoos. So if you're into Jose Reyes' extensive forearm ink, you won't find it here.
Audio is incredible, although much of it has been held over from the past couple of years. Booth jockeys Matt Vasgersian, Steve Lyons, and Eric Karros are dead-on with their observations, which are just about perfectly suited to every play. Some lines have been recycled, of course, although Lyons is a new addition to the team replacing Dave Campbell, so he comes with fresh dialogue. Atmospheric sound effects are even better. Games sound like real baseball on the field, with players talking it up and giving situational advice about the count, the number of outs, and so on. So many sports games resort to canned crowd audio during games, but here, you get background noise that always seems unique to your situation. It's a great way to immerse you in games.
Bigger improvements can be seen in the gameplay. Hitting difficulty has always been one big gripe from fans of past versions of MLB: The Show. The game has never purported to be easy, forcing you to climb the summit of a steep learning curve when stepping into the batter's box. Timing had to be nearly perfect, even with basic push-button swinging on the default difficulty, and it was essential to target the ball with a cursor to make serious contact. This made the game frustrating, especially to newcomers who wanted the instant illusion of being a big-league ballplayer at the dish. Thankfully, hitting has been seriously loosened this year with an opened-up timing window. Now you can get solid wood on the ball even if you don't have your timing absolutely perfect. As a result, you can at least get pieces of tough pitches that you would have just waved at in previous games. Understandably, this does make hitting somewhat easier. But it mostly makes hitting a lot more satisfying, because you can now pound the ball like a major leaguer.
Adjusted batting doesn't kick off offensive explosions, either. You can hit the ball harder more often, sure, but that often means you're clocking a lot of long, loud outs. You're not going to suddenly start slamming the ball over the fences every other at-bat. Going yard might well be a little easier for power hitters, but there is nothing here that would be out of the ordinary in a real Major League contest. Timing remains crucial, as does picking your spots. You can't just go up and flail away at every pitch and expect to do anything but give the opposition easy outs. There is just a little more room for error at the plate, which is very welcome given how tough the game has been in the past, especially for rookies.
The revamped hitting also makes the game more lifelike. As noted above, outs have oomph now. Last year's sad little nubber a few feet down the first-base line is this year's hard ground out right at the sack. You can now more readily fight off tough pitches by fouling away ball after ball to stay alive in fierce duels with pitchers. Before, contact was so tough to come by that you tended to just whiff at stuff on the corners. Now, you can take the likes of Justin Verlander and C.C. Sabathia nine or 10 pitches deep into an at-bat.
New push/pull physics also track how players spray the ball around, labeling them in categories that range from extreme pull to extreme push. This again adds to realism and lets you more accurately tailor at-bats to the skills of individual players, a big help when trying to advance runners. All of these improvements ramp up tension at the plate and give you more of the feeling that anything is possible.
Pitching hasn't changed as much. It might be a little easier to fool opposing batters now, but that's about it. With a control pitcher, you can clock a fair number of Ks now, as long as you throw a smart mix of different pitches and play around with speed and location. Enemy batters aren't as picky as in previous editions of the game. They won't wave at garbage too often, although you can make even the best look foolish with a good mix. Again, this makes for more realistic pitcher-batter duels. The only lingering issue with pitching in need of a fix is the dark circle of the Pulse Pitching mechanics. It remains a little too arcadey, pulsing so fast and making location-setting too gimmicky. The pulsing circle is also too hard to see in front of catchers with dark chest protectors.
MLB: The Show always seemed to be the superior baseball game. Never saw the hype with 2K sports games to begin with. But long story short, MLB 2K13 is trash and MLB: The Show is the only baseball game we need. So wonderful that we get such an awesome franchise exclusive to the PlayStation consoles.
@Jyakotu : Being an XBOX console owner I have to say that the PS exclusivity is NOT AWESOME. Try playing those trash 2K sports baseball games as your ONLY baseball gaming option
...I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy.
@Jyakotu Agreed, in recent years the 2k basketball games have really stagnated.
I wish there was more consistency with GameSpot's reviews. Mc Shea reviews Madden NFL, complains they don't do enough new, it gets a 7.5. This has the exact same complaint, gets an 8.5.
I'm not knocking this game, it's a clear improvement over last year's 7.5 but if the complaints are similar to other games of the genre, there should be some commonality between reviews.
@wantbackin well..that's because madden is a broken PoS. it's not on the same level as an authentic, quality sports title.
@wantbackin They're not reviewing games based solely on the fact of what's new. They can't just say not much improvement automatically 7.5 It's going to factor into their decision but it's pretty commonly accepted that The Show is a much better game than Madden.
@Stevenuccj It's unfortunate they didn't try and improve on the 2k series because I absolutely love their pitching mechanic.
This game looks so real...........why cant they do the same with a NHL game.
EA NHL 2013 is so much shit.
@GamerOuTLaWz Hockey requires more speed. During a pitcher-batter duel, the only movement is between the pitcher and the batter. In an NHL game, there's 12 players on the ice at a given time, all making decisions based on your input. You make that too photorealistic and you're going to have framerate problems. Sorta like how Heavy Rain looks better than Dead Rising -- Dead Rising has 100 zombies on screen at once, with a whole bunch of carnage going on at the same time. Heavy Rain has two people on screen and absolutely nothing going on.
I'm no fan of EA -- especially after what they did to SimCity -- but there are different things to consider when making a hockey game vs a baseball game.
you telling me nhl 2013 is shit whatever, last nhl game i bought was 12 but i just couldnt get into it, looked a very good game though.
I might buy nhl 14
@mginge51 @GamerOuTLaWz I mean..Starting a game with a friend is so tricky, if you set your controls to classic or wtv,then decide to change your starting lanes or period lenght,it will reset the controls so you have to make your pick again. Team rosters are all wrong because of the god damn lock-out that happened this year even when playing online with the ''up-to-date'' rosters that arent even up to date.
I hate the fact that you cant make stick moves while skating thats just unrealistic... but anyway..the gameplay is still fun and Ive had a blast playing online games with 2 of myfriends on the same team and 1v1s against friends. But Im glad this is my friends game and I only borrowed it from him cause Ill gladly wait for NHL 14 .
Can someone explain why you would buy a game about baseball every year? How different can MLB13 be to 12?
@00LiteYear i used to say this regarding madden games!!! i have 2012 on the vita, i think youde have to be an obsessive fan of the sport like people who buy fifa every year. however they usually are deeper games than how they appear.
That said though I know i'll crumble and buy it anyway.. unlike Call of Duty the games actually become 'out of date' due to teams changing leagues and the players signed. Plus, to be fair to EA, the new modes introduced and gaming tweaks are actually worthwhile.
(That is the one and only time i'll be positive towards EA!)
Wow, the one thing I didn't like about my version (a couple years ago PS3) was that hitting was a bit hard. Not a game breaker but a little frustrating if you just didn't want to focus on hitting. So I'll be getting this bad boy.
Lengthy load times? I have it digitally on my PS3 and it takes no more than 20 seconds to get in a game. And this is the best sports game out there, obviously better than MLB 2K13
Love love love this series. I'm having such a blast with this game. If you're a fan of baseball, this is a system seller.
@tourdefist There was brief mention on the second page--very brief. Brett actually went over the word limit, so there wouldn't have been much room for him to elaborate!
I got this on the Vita. Sports games were never my forte, but I enjoy playing the occasional baseball game. I tried to play last year's The Show on the Vita, but I just couldn't get the hang of it, even on rookie. You're not supposed to be getting slaughtered on the easiest difficulty. Beginner mode has made The Show 13 far more likable for me. Currently undefeated, and that's the way me likes it. :)
@JustPlainLucas If you ever get a chance to play the PS3 version, tell me how it stacks up to that version please!
@Blabadon @JustPlainLucas The Vita version is great, but the PS3 version is a whole other beast. The vita lacks a lot of the PS3's animations. If you can only afford one, get the PS3 version.
@Blabadon @JustPlainLucas It's probably something that will never happen. I got it on the Vita so I could play it at work, and when I need a break from the consoles at home. Now, I WOULD have picked the PS3 version instead if it came with cross-buy and included a downloadable version for the Vita. In my opinion, Sony seriously needs to make cross-buy a standard if they want people to care about their cross-play functionality.