Often heralded as being one of the greatest American sporting past times, Baseball blossomed into a professional sport built to entertain fans and generate revenue. From Signature hitters like Babe Ruth and Albert Pujous to embattled users like Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa, the sport has seen it's fair share of both positives and negatives. The same notion can also be said about several video game interpretations of the sport.
While the subpar MLB 2K series has received mixed reviews, Sony's groundbreaking Show franchise has continued to dominate with each annual release. Now in its 8th year at the top, MLB 13: The Show is not only the best baseball simulation on the market but also arguably the best sports game so far this year. Here are a few more reasons why this game is a certifiable homerun hit.
Upon first picking up MLB 13: The Show, many diehard fans will notice right away that a few new gameplay modes have been added to enhance the overall experience. Gamers who are just trying out the game for the first time can participate in the all-new Beginner mode. This intuitive feature works as a tool to get your hitting and pitching skills up to par fairly quickly, while also adjusting the learning curve as you progressively get better. Previous entries in the series weren't quite receptive to first timers and I'm particularly glad that they finally managed to address this concern head on.
On the flip side, seasoned pros can now skip the extensive franchise and season modes and immediately partake of the brand new Post Season Mode. Despite all of the storylines that can develop during a grueling162 game season, nothing ever comes close to matching all the drama and excitement of a team's journey to the World Series. SCE San Diego Studios crafted this mode perfectly by beefing up the presentation quality with new atmospheric animations and cinematic sequences. As an added bonus, players have the option of controlling all 10 teams and making wild card teams part of the festivities as well.
In addition to the features mentioned above, MLB 13 also consists of 50 improvements spanning across all the popular modes that fans have come to know and love. The Road To The Show has improved significantly in both presentation and commentary quality, while the mode titled The Show Live uses real-time stats from MLB.com to keep rosters and player ratings updated. The infamous Online Home Run Derby mode introduced in MLB 12 returns with cross platform play support with the PlayStation Vita. Even in terms of gameplay, the hitting engine has been upgraded to provide a more balanced variety of moves. The culmination of all these changes proves that the creative team have learned from their previous faults and succeeded in keeping the game fresh and rewarding for both new and old fans alike.
Graphically, MLB 13: The Show is by far the best looking game in the series to date. Most player models are extremely detailed and signature hitting styles standout immensely thanks in part to the use of responsive animation techniques. However, it is worth noting that a few minor performance hiccups here and there do display tiny blemishes from time to time in an otherwise flawless execution.
If there are any negatives to point out about this game, I would say that both the stadium music and commentary are extremely repetitive in nature. There may be a few extra lines of dialogue here and there, but largely everything else remains virtually the same as it was last year. There will of course be some fans that don't care about any of these issues, but I at least felt like it was worth mentioning.
One other path that I would like to see this series take in future iterations would be to include some type of Greatest Moments mode. What if fans could have the ability to replay classic moments in the history of the sport? How cool would it be to play as Babe Ruth or even have Jackie Robison go up against Alex Rodriguez in a Home Run Derby showdown? These concepts have worked well for the popular NBA 2K series lately and I would love to see how Sony could push these ideas further.
MLB 13: The Show is a landmark entry in the series and a must buy for hardcore baseball fans. The additions of Beginner Mode and Post Season Mode will keep gamers from all walks of life happy and engaged for hours on end. If you enjoy sport simulation games and love baseball in general, then do yourself a favor and pick this up ASAP.
This review was based on a retail copy of the game for the PlayStation 3 provided by Sony Computer Entertainment.