The Show has consistently been the closest game to represent its respective sport in a video game. Sports games generally aren't system sellers, then again there's not any other first party sports titles either. If you're a baseball fan and have been stuck on an Xbox with 2K for the past 6 years, this is the best time to make the change over to the PS3 and The Show 13. With 2k13 being a rerelease of 2k12 for $60, put that money towards the other system. For those familiar with the series, I believe it has hit its peak with 13 as it gets its final fresh coat of paint before jumping to the next generation.
With that new coat of a paint, comes some neat enhancements for veteran players. The fielding is tighter, and the hitting is much improved thanks to a revamped ball physics engine. Now there are more types of hits coming off the bat, rather than seeing the same few grounders over and over again. There is no new hitting or pitching feature introduced this year, which is a good thing. Unlike other sports titles that will introduce a feature one year and remove the next, The Show has kept with it and added on. What originally was button pushing at the beginning of the series, new additions with the analog stick were added. You can choose to bat with timing (button pushing), pure analog (using the stick), or if you're a boss, the zone analog (aim with the left stick, swing with the right). The same can be done with pitching, however also returning is the pulse pitching. Pulse pitching is about timing as well, but there is no meter. So if you get bored, or become too good using one method, you can try another.
A beginner mode is added this year to help noobs out. While this seems to help with hitting, the rest of the game remains the same. This game has been a tough game to hit on, so the inclusion of this mode should help those along that are struggling or didn't understand the hitting previously. There are still plenty of sliders to adjust to liking. Other enhancements include an MLB Live mode that will take the starting lineups from that day and the conditions and let you use that to play a quick game or online game, also a playoff mode that let's you create a tournament and the games have an added atmosphere to it. The MLB Live mode will also let you go back to a different date and play with that date's roster, as well as commentary to go along with what's happening at that time. This mode is not live yet, however, it should be really cool come July.
The Franchise and Road to the Show modes were changed up as well. Franchise mode now involves building a budget over the years, and focuses on scouting and a new training setup. Unfortunately, unlike the batting and pitching modes, the old portion of the mode did not carry over. Gone are the stadium customization, scheduled promotions, and daily newspaper articles. I personally do not see why this could not have been left in the game. RTTS sees a new fielding camera and simplified baserunning controls. Diamond Dynasty returns and is playable online. This is a card based game that allows you to build a team.
Online league also exist and allow you to play a full season with all the teams. When looking at these modes, this is where a gripe of mine comes in with the series. The bulk of what most people will do is the Franchise mode. The problem is that the choice given for length of a season is a full season of 162 games, and that doesn't include the playoffs. Only people with a lot of time on their hands could play multiple seasons of this title. There needs to be an option to cut the season in half, or in quarters. Now, there's a plain season mode where you can do that, but then you can't experience the perks of Franchise mode, nor does the computer do any transactions during the season. This also limits what the player can do, such as experience RTTS or Diamond Dynasty, if they want to finish out their franchise.
Veterans will begin to realize after a while that a lot of the same nuisances return. The computer will fight off every two strike pitch, the umpires just flat out do not like you, and the opposing pitcher seems to be one of their best hitters. Those and other little things that might have gotten on your nerves are still there. The nice things include an improved presentation, that looks more television-like, the inclusion of Steve Lyons in the booth, and different intros and post-games. Special games will have a different music and atmosphere to them such as playoffs and opening day. The menu interface is a bit better, and the ticker looks great at the bottom of the screen. The commentary with the inclusion of Steve Lyons, is still a bit dull. Matt Vasgersian's voice just doesn't do it, and it seems there's a bit more dead time this year. While they might be insightful, it just gets boring at times.
The Show has always had the best looking graphics for a sports game around, and that's no different this time. At times, it looks better than any previous version, possibly to do with the lighting. The crowd can still look bad at times, but that's the only way to tell that it's not real. The game runs incredibly smooth, and most of the in-game action is photo-realistic. There always seems to be a problem with collision detecting in these games, but that doesn't happen much in the sport to begin with. Add to all this the super-fluid animations and it's definitely hard to tell a difference between life and game.
The Show 13 returns with Motion Control support for hititng, pitching, and fielding. While the menu claims it's based on swing and arm speed, really it's the timing through one point of the zone. The wireless sensor in the controller can still be used for sliding and diving for fielding, which is always a nice touch. The controls continue to be pinpoint and responsive. Cross-play with the Vita returns as you can take your franchise on the go. The Home Run Derby in both games are cross-play compatible online, as well.
The online play has improved, but it's still far from perfect. Finding a game is a pain as you join a lobby and hope one of the 30 people in the room just aren't taking up space. The gameplay itself still has a bit of a delay, and it's not based on your connection. No, I have not encountered any lag, however my system has locked up on me only in online play. The fact that a sport that relies so much on timing has issues with being delayed in online play is a deal-killer. This is the most playable online version of this game that's been released yet.
There's plenty to do in MLB 13: The Show, you just might have to pick ahead of time what you want to devote to. There's a lot of options for veterans, and everything available in this title will blow away new fans who are converting over. If you have not ever played this game, and you are a baseball fan, you need to do everything in your power to experience this. The Show continues to be the closest representation to a real life sports in a video game.
Graphics: 9 - The best player models in a sports game available. Same old issue with collision and the crowd exist to not lend a perfect score in this category. Stadiums and fields are beautiful as well.
Presentation: 9 - Revamped overlays to resemble more of a television look mixed with a scenario-based atmosphere help keep this score high. The commentary gets Steve Lyons, but still ultimately is dull, yet insightful. There seem to be dead spots at times as well. The menu interface received a nice touch-up as well.
Sound: 9 - Top notch sound effects and voice quality. Seems to be some dead time in the commentary. One thing I ran into a problem with was menu music cutting out multiple times. Also, a questionable soundtrack, but that depends on your preference. Custom soundtracks and sound effects still exist.
Gameplay: 9 - Tight, responsive controls that also feature new ball-physics. Add to this the many different ways to hit and pitch. Adjustable sliders as well to help tune the game the way you want it.
Replay: 10 - The different ways to hit and pitch will keep things fresh. MLB Live mode is excellent to use for exhibition and online games. All the different time-consuming modes will last you probably beyond next year.
Overall: 9 - This is the best modern day baseball game. It made enough improvements to surpass last season and actually stand out. Not only did The Show 13 accomplish that, it had no competition. This might be the last baseball game you need to purchase for a while. This is the only choice for baseball gaming in 2013.