MLB 13: The Show – Hits and Misses

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Posted March 12th, 2013 at 3:00 pm

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As a series MLB: The Show has been the most consistent of all the yearly sports representations this generation. Consumers have come to rely on exceptional baseball authenticity, realistic gameplay, fantastic graphics, and deep franchise and career modes to invest time with. What has been missing though is sense of accessibility and an acceptable online experience. Those aspects however are no longer holding the franchise back.

MLB 13: The Show is the iteration that pulled everything together to finally become a complete product and in doing so will absolutely deserve to be in contention for “Best Of” awards late this year.¬†Continue on for a look at what MLB 13: The Show did exceptionally well and where it stumbled in this Hits and Misses review!

HITS

Gameplay and Authenticity
The unforgiving nature of The Show has finally eased off with the expansion of the hitting timing window. Far more rewarding and satisfying, hitting success has improved dramatically but not to any sort of unrealistic level. Averages were so consistently low in the past, with too many instances of timing and placement feeling “right” but still being punished, that now it just feels far more fair. Ultimately fun factor is being impacted here to a great extent.

All facets of MLB 13 demonstrate improvement over MLB 12. No longer unforgiving at the plate the overall balance and variety in games has increased. Scores are more realistic and producing runs through means other than home runs is a more viable strategy. Comebacks can be made and momentum and confidence are factors.

Changes to make “Guess Pitch” less of a crutch have proved worthwhile, and the new throwing meter provides more involvement and control over events in the field. Franchise mode benefits from new budgetary adjustments, scouting overhaul, and numbered player ratings. The Show is also well known for providing as many options as possible in regards to aspects such as controls, difficulty levels, and camera angles.

Graphics
Outside of the crowd MLB 13 shines in the graphical department. The lighting, player faces, player models, parks, and animations are all top notch. Though the PS4 will be needed to take that next step there is no discounting that MLB 13 is arguably the best looking sports game out today. Understated changes from year-to-year have gotten it to this place and, even though not dramatically different than last year, it has earned such recognition.

Road to the Show
Largely due to the increased timing window at the plate enjoyment in RTTS has expanded. The shift this year for pitchers is less evident but general gameplay balance regardless of position has been good making the experience challenging but far less frustrating. Changes to fielding cameras don’t have much of an impact, and presentation wise the focus being from a player’s perspective works in some ways and in others doesn’t fully connect. It was fine to lose the commentary but having them jump in for a statement here and there unexpectedly seems odd. The camera cuts and on-screen displays after important events within the career are great touches. Not sure what the point is to the leaderboards but they are there now. The new sim screen which allows for seeing the events take place is a valuable addition. Loading times feel as though they have been reduced. What the mode desperately needs is a form of situational training rather than expecting people to learn things on the fly by trial and error.

Online Play
For full online play impressions, including a comparison of statistics between MLB 13 and MLB 12 to demonstrate how significantly different it now plays, check out the earlier write-up. Though not perfect online has taken huge strides this year. Connections are more consistent and performance smoother, the opened hitting window makes the games more entertaining to play, and several smart design decisions (pitcher fatigue, Guess Pitch, matchmaking) have made the entire experience one worth seeking out.

Postseason Mode
Interest in the new Postseason mode was not particularly high heading into release but it exceeded expectations. This is an appealing avenue for those people who don’t have or want to invest the necessary time within franchise but desire playing games that feel as though they have meaning. There are plenty of options available in setting up the brackets and the special presentation and ratcheted up atmosphere makes the games stand out from all the others.

MISSES

Commentary
While the commentary is by no means poor, it has become tired, and is long overdue for an overhaul. That realization wasn’t just made this year but has been discussed as an area that needed addressing since MLB 09. MLB 11 switched out Rex Huddler for Eric Karros replacing one poor contributor for another. MLB 13 brings in Steve Lyons with Dave Campbell departing. Lyons’ presence is not realized all that much. The feel of the commentary, the pacing (including too much empty space) and manner in which it is threaded together, just hasn’t advanced while competition within the genre has taken major steps forward technologically and have featured complete booth changes. It is particularly disappointing within playoff games as the commentary just does not match the heightened atmosphere.

Minor Issues and Omissions – PS4 on Horizon
Gameplay wise the frequency that the CPU throws strikes in power zones on the first pitch of each at bat, which has been well documented, is worrisome and affects strategy at the plate. There is also some sort of slowdown affecting runners as they round third base. Those few issues and an occasional stutter on pitch releases will hopefully be patched. Elements of baseball like rainouts, doubleheaders, and retractable roofs that close still haven’t been implemented.

There is a growing sense that The Show has stalled as far as the PS3 goes and really needs the capabilities of the PS4 to advance any further. That’s not to say it is totally deficient in any single way, just that in playing it every year the series is showing reduced returns as far as leaps go. Areas discussed already such as commentary may fall into that category as SCEA isn’t going to make big investments in the last year or two of the current generation when they’ll be looking to totally differentiate one from the other and help to justify the PS4 next fall.

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This is the year that MLB: The Show finally pulled it all together to offer a complete product with exceptional value. Though it may have hit somewhat of a wall on the PS3, the PS4 providing an opportunity to break through in the weaker areas like collision detection and commentary, the changes that were made for MLB 13 still made a significant impact. The Show is a now must-have for any true baseball fan regardless of whether interest lies in Play Now, Postseason, Franchise, Road to the Show, or Online.

  • http://www.facebook.com/philsites Philip Sites

    Has anyone else played online with the Vita edition (or tried the online HR Derby with a Vita)? I have it but have been away from home for a few days.

    • Keith.

      The Vita version is definitely improved — I was really surprised to see all of the new pitching and hitting cameras, the improved ball physics, post-action scenes, etc., that they’ve crammed into this year’s game. I’ve only played HR Derby on Vita a couple of times but competing online against guys on PS3 was seamless and fun. I’m actually about to fire up my Cards’ post-season on the Vita in a few minutes while the wife watches Dr. Phil on DVR. Great stuff.

  • dave travis

    Yep this game is so good, might not have to buy another baseball game for at least 2-3 more years, that’s when you know a game is good

  • mcmax3000

    I’ve really enjoyed the little bit that I’ve played so far. Had a great, really competitive first game in my season.

    I’m definitely glad I reconsidered skipping this year, as they’ve put together one hell of a game.

  • Henry

    Great write up Pasta. I agreed with everything you said.

  • Si1entRaider

    Fair review. Agree the game has stalled on PS3 and is so ready for PS4. Ill still play this game all year but soon as it drops for PS4 it will be a system seller for me.

  • http://www.delivra.com/ Cody Sharp

    As if having better hardware will fix the lack of attention to commentary or poor pitching mechanism. Come on. Functionality is only going to take steps back with the new system comes out sice graphics will tie up the budget and time of the developers.

    • http://pastapadre.com/ pastapadre

      I don’t necessarily think it’s all true, but devs for The Show have publicly stated there are things they couldn’t do because of limitations they faced with the current hardware. The things I mentioned (rainouts, retractable roofs, commentary) specifically being singled out.

      And if anything, the architecture of the PS4 will make things easier on development, opening up more possibilities. The idea that because the system is more powerful that means resources get directed to graphics doesn’t make sense.

      • http://www.delivra.com/ Cody Sharp

        Stronger hardware means several things – a more costly game for one – all of the players with their decent polygon count, will needs artists to upgrade that polygon count. The animation will need totally redone to look clean on an upgraded piece of hardware – hardware that is not compatible with the current playstation. And on and on. I expect a lot less features on the first iteration of The Show for Ps4 for those reasons and one more – no point in blowing your feature load right off the bat. If they did that they couldn’t add back in all of the stuff they have added in over the last 5 years. That is all to say, with all of those other things needing done – ie – a totally recreated Show for PS4, I wouldn’t be surprised if commentary falls by the wayside.

        As for pitching – I simply prefer 2k’s version and I know I’m not alone. I simply prefer the challenge of not always throwing the perfect pitch. You can’t really compare a video games button pushing to real life pitching in either game.

    • SDwinder

      The Analog pitch mechanic in The Show is as good as it gets. It separates the men from the girls. And no, it does not copy the basic Analog pitch crap that is 2K, just because it uses the analog stick too. If you have ever pitched in real life, you should be able to appreciate the huge difference.

  • wolf onatshirt

    Glad I saved my copy of 12 instead of trading it in for only 7 bucks trade in value. 12 > 13 by long shot

    • giantsap

      you’re joking right?

      • wolf onatshirt

        Why would I be joking? It’s practically the same game with roster updates and more bugs. Have fun playing with the pitching stutter step and bad pitch placement.

        • Mike

          When I play 13, I don’t see any pitching stutters and the pitch placement is easily fixed with a couple slider adjustments.

        • giantsap

          I’m pretty sure the stutter is in a lot of peoples imagination. 13 is way better than 12. Rtts is enhanced, the scouting is a lot better in franchise, and oh yeah, I get to play games online.

    • mcmax3000

      You can argue whether there’s enough new to warrant the upgrade (I’d say there is, but I can see the other side of the argument), but 12 is absolutely not a better overall game than 13.

  • Stu

    Miss: Contracts and Free Agency in Franchise… Numbers are totally off and unrealistic

    • Mike

      There’s things that aren’t allowed to do. That is one of them.

  • MoneyMayweather

    what about hit and misses for mlb 2k13? really dude?

    • Mike

      The whole game is a miss.

  • ARB3108

    I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it does feel different and better than MLB 12 The Show.

  • Skihawks

    A very small issue but I read a post on a different story where someone mentioned that the roofs don’t close because the PS3 doesn’t have enough power. MVP on the XBox and PS2 had roofs that closed. What was cool is that you could see the roof close during gameplay and the roofs closed slowly. It was an awesome touch.

    It can be done. I would like classic teams. Even if SCEA doesn’t want to pay money for real players, allow the gamers to edit. Would love to see past WS champs like the 84 Tigers, 89 A’s, 86 Mets, 79 Pirates as well as more classic uniforms for all teams. Bring on the White Sox in shorts and collars.

  • Doogie09

    MLB 11 The Show owner and gamer. Rented 2K13 to get a taste and what they do well, the commentary, the MLB Today headlines and team page, the career stats and recent game stats for players, are things I would love to see eventually in The Show. Creates immersion. Love their dynamic player perf stuff too, along with more accurate contracts, that yes, you can actually edit. Now I’m a Show fan and consumer, but I believe the Show gets a bit of a pass from the community. Myself included. Graphics, gameplay, etc are good. But stat problems, too many strikes by pitchers and that stutter get glossed over. I know, patches hopefully will address; we’ll see. But imho, don’t bring out the pedestal just yet…..

  • http://twitter.com/vlnj13 vlnj13

    Great write-up! I must say I’ve been waiting for the integration of real-life, up-to-date stats in the game for a long time being a player who loves to recreate a day’s match-ups in Play Now. “The Show Live” finally brings that in to the experience, but only time will tell if it is a “Hit” or a “Miss” because it does not go into effect until the regular season.

  • Ricketts

    MVP had retractable roofs, rainouts, and double headers! That was on the original XBOX, with amazing gameplay and great graphics for their time. Weird how when consoles get upgraded, companies tend to leave out some of the best features their game used to have in order to “graphically” stand out… I’d rather have good graphics, with great gameplay and features. Adds so much realism to the game! I held off on The Show this year, I want to be pleasantly surprised at how awesome MLB 14 will be for the PS4, I am also wondering what will the XBOX 720 receive when it comes to a baseball game being that 2K13 was a flop and a half lol…

  • http://www.facebook.com/Dilltron Dylan Connolly

    I would say the only thing that needs to be improved is the grass! I know that sounds so minor but it has always bugged me, and the game would look perfect with 3d like grass in madden. Otherwise, its perfect!

  • Steve

    Very weird that players who have real life profile pics automatically change to cartoon profile pic when sent to minors. Minor pics are very blurry, even on HDTV. I wish they did what Madden did last year and have real pics for fictional players that you draft.

  • Skyflame21

    Totally agree, high heat was the best for in depth baseball. I loved that each player had the stats very similar to a baseball card. Even included their minor league totals. As well as half seasons if a player was traded like what they did with the Yankees and then what they did with the tigers after being traded.

  • http://twitter.com/callmeCrown Tk

    Been playing the show since 07…great franchise.. Tried to give mlb 2k a chance but they keep disappointing.. Anyway I did notice the slight hesitation on players rounding third..very annoying but I trust it will be fixed in an update soon… I noticed the new fielding animations, which are very smooth and effortless but when a ball is first hit, it’s like the CPU assumes there is no chance to make a play and messes up my first step.. Only options are assist and auto, no manual. I hope that gets addressed.. Other than that , great improvement from 12, when you swing the bat is a lot quicker through the zone, which for me has produced several oppo hits instead of a foul or whiff..

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