MLB 13:The Show Review

Developer:  SCE San Diego Studio

Format: PS3/Vita

Release Date: Out Now

 

I’m going to be honest here, I don’t care much for baseball. I’ve no idea who is the current champion, my grasp on the rules are shaky at best and I’m one of the people who had to google “seventh inning stretch” to see what all the fuss is about. I was worried that this would make me biased towards this review but the fact of the matter is, it doesn’t matter if you’re an obsessed fan or completely new to the game, MLB is actually a lot of fun and an excellent game.

batter

The gameplay is rock solid and having poured hours into the Road to the Show mode, I’ve picked up plenty on how the game actually works. The pitching mechanism is simple to learn and provides enough depth to constantly be engaged by the game and to ensure your slow but constant progress is maintained. Or you can use the “Pulse Pitching” system which draws on your player’s attributes and energy levels. The batting is similarly easy to pick up but I found it much harder to become competent with. Even with the analogue mode (which is far more fun to play with) I found myself batting myself out the vast majority of the time when I started. It definitely has a bit of a learning curve but more importantly, the controls feel tight and responsive ensuring that I felt responsible for any errors personally, rather than blaming anything on shoddy mechanics in the game. And within an hour of playing I was able to actively plan my strategies and use the batter’s weakness against them and start to strike out my opposing team. It’s masterfully done by SCE, they really have set the bar high and cracked what it takes to make a game accurate yet entertaining.

pitch
Its also clear to see that they are really straining to push the limits of this generation’s hardware for graphical output, with what appears to be a prioritisation system. While I can see the muscles, tendons and veins in my pitchers arms, I can’t make out the faces of anybody in the crowd. The menus are so polished, they literally gleam, yet I keep finding my eyes being pulled to strangely poor renders of players shoes and trousers. It wouldn’t have bothered me so much if there wasn’t such a difference, there really are parts where you could be fooled into thinking you were watching a game on TV, only to have the camera pan and look at something, while not badly rendered, but obviously not near the same level as other parts of the games. In saying that, the obvious elements of the game have definitely been looked after and pitching animations, batter positions, even dust clouds as you hit a base all look amazing. It really makes you wonder about the possibilities of what 16 times the RAM will do on the next playstation.

head

Speaking of memory, be sure to make room for this game if you buy it digitally, at a whopping 23GB of space (12GB for the game, 11 for “additional content” which you can’t play the game without) this is enough to push some people over their download limits before you even look at playing online. There are several other modes though to keep hardcore baseball fans happy such as Franchise and Season modes and, more interestingly, “The Show Live” allows you to play the matches that are occurring today and import all the latest results, player transfers and fixtures in real time.
profile
One of the more subtle and yet far more engaging elements of the game is the audio cues you are given from your fellow teammates and coaches. While pointing two fingers at the ground doesn’t mean a whole lot to me, having the faint audio track “This boy can’t do fast balls!” playing among the crowd and stadium noise gives it a massive boost in terms of immersion. Especially as they aren’t thrown in your face or blared well above the other sounds on the field. The commentary is also pretty good but as with any of these games, it doesn’t take long before the same lines start to reappear. They’ve kept the commentary to the breaks in between plays though which has reduced exposure to these lines, keeping them a bit more fresh.

menu

Overall, I can’t give this game any more praise than basically saying, it’s sparked an interest in baseball. It’s fun, it plays well, it looks good, its a rock solid investment with hundreds of hours of potential gameplay. Get it.

 

Score 9/10

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