'MLB 13 The Show' for PlayStation 3 and Vita.
Opening Day is just about one week away and that's when each Major League Baseball team puts their best pitcher on the mound to start the season off right. Were Sony's new video game MLB 13 The Show a starting pitcher, it could start Opening Day for almost any of the league's 30 teams.
MLB 13 The Show gives players a good assortment of genre-standard play options, including quick play, franchise, and online play. Actually, much of this game requires the Internet and online play requires the activation of an online code. While those who purchase the game new won't have much more than the frustration of having to correctly input the alpha-numerical redemption code, those who buy this game used will unfortunately be forced to purchase a new code for an additional cost.
Offline, franchise mode shines as it gives players a good amount of options for managing their ballclub. For those wanting more of a player experience, there's MLB 13's Road to the Show (the closest thing to a story mode that can be found in a sports game like this) where users create their own custom rookie and work their way up through the minors to eventually make it to the Big Leagues. Players wanting something a little less involved will find a small assortment of baseball-related activities highlighted by the ever-popular Home Run Derby.
MLB 13 The Show can be played one of two ways: traditional gamepad controls and motion control via PlayStation Move. Move controls might make the game more engaging for some players, but for others they'll get in the way of simple enjoyment.
For those playing the game via the DualShock 3 controller, they'll find that the game plays pretty industry standard for a baseball video game. For example, the XO?? buttons on the gamepad match up with the bases for fielding and baserunning. Pitching has each pitcher's pitches mapped onto those same buttons, as does the batter for normal, power, and contact swings. It's all quite easy to learn, yet can be hard to master -- especially when batting. Still, getting that nice stroke that knocks one out of the park is oh so satisfying regardless of how good you are at swinging the stick.
MLB 13 The Show boasts some of the highest-quality visuals yet in not only a baseball video game, but in a sports video game period. Individual players look as close to their real-life counterparts as they ever will in this generation of video game consoles and the stadiums themselves look quite impressive. Most impressive is the crowds and how lifelike they not only look, but act. The audience in past sports game titles has looked far inferior to the rest of the game. This year, each fan looks as legitimate as the players on the field.
Audio in MLB 13 doesn't come off quite as impressive as the visuals, but they're still well done. The soundtrack that plays during menus is chock-full of popular hits (even if the songs sometimes skip a-la an early 1990's Diskman) and the ambient stadium sounds - the crowd, announcer, crack of the bat, etc. - sound genuine. Even the excellent commentary and play-by-play team of Eric Karros, Matt Vasgersian, and newcomer Steve Lyons breaks their part of the presentation to allow the PA announcer some time in the sun.
The only big downside with MLB 13 The Show is that Nintendo, Xbox 360, and PC sports gamers are being left in the cold. The game is available exclusively for PlayStation 3 and Vita. Otherwise, the game is as close to perfect as a pro baseball game has been since the days of Tengen's R.B.I. Baseball on the original Nintendo Entertainment System.
Version tested: PlayStation 3 (also available on PlayStation Vita)
(SCEA supplied a copy of this game for review.)