MLB 13: The Show

I have never hated and loved as game as much as MLB The Show. In all the time I owned the 2011 version, I never once won a game. Not once. This game is not for the weak-willed. The player I created was traded over and over; discarded almost weekly by Minor League teams who didn’t need a lacklustre first baseman who couldn’t hit to save himself.

Fast forward to 2013 and my skill levels have improved and the game has become a lot more forgiving. as such, I win my first game 9-0 (playing as the ever-struggling NY Mets.) Hmmm, perhaps it’s too easy.

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MLB The Show (from now on, "The Show") is the best sports simulation ever made. Every year the title comes out and adds new features and tweaks that make you think “You have got to be kidding me?!” This means you can spend hours simply creating your character, carefully selecting not only how they look and what they wear but their particular batting stance (choose from over 180 different batting stances!), pitching style (ditto!), even how they react to a strike and what their practice swings look like. Or you can just hit “randomize” and be done with it.

This is all within the feature called Road To The Show (RTTS.) You start as a rookie playing AA ball for one of the farm teams, like the Durham Bulls, or the Albuquerque Isotopes (named after the team in The Simpsons that was going to be moved from Springfield to Albuquerque.) And, just in case you were worried about the realism there, The Show has licenses for all of the affiliated minor league teams too (including a number of actual stadiums.)

This is no Madden, where your rookie gets the starting job ahead of established players with higher skill ratings. In The Show, you have to slog your way to the Majors completing a set of objectives every month or so. These are split between doing training exercises and performance in games.

When you first start the game in any mode, The Show understands that you may have never played before and offers to set everything to the default of Easy. This is a slight ruse. It has actually defaulted most settings to Expert level. This is because The Show hates you and wants to see you ruined and crying. A bit of quick tweaking though and you’re back to Easy.

But not just Easy, you are at “Easy level 1/6”. What this means, is that as you progress the game’s easy level will get slightly harder and harder. For example: at level 1 easy the pitcher will only throw fastball strikes and you only need to hit a single button for timing, at higher levels the pitcher will start throwing out of the strike zone, then different types of pitches and so on until you reach “Easy level 6/6”.

While the easy levels allow you to pitch and hit using simple button tapping for timing and strength, later difficulty levels will require you to bust out the analog sticks to aim and/or swing. Similarly fielding, which at early levels is almost completely automated, gets gradually harder and eventually becomes completely your task.

The increases in level happen while you’re playing. So you can start the first inning at 1/6 and finish at 6/6. At the end of the game you can save this progress or if you feel you still need some practise, you can ignore it and start the process again in the next game.

MLB The Show has never been about the quick pay off and this gentle increment of difficulty is a great way to ease into the game without removing the fun bits.

Much like cricket, baseball is a slow-paced game. This is reflected in the gameplay. Each game starts with an incredibly accurate simulation of a TV broadcast. I don’t mean a generic shot of the stadium with the commentators voice over, I mean a fake broadcast so good, if you wandered into the room you might think there was actually baseball on the TV. While you won’t need to sit and play through three hours of baseball, not all of the animations are instantly skippable. There is no such thing as a quick game.

The depth of gameplay is amazing. When you play in franchise mode (either for one season or in full mode) you have to manage everything from player scouting player to pitching rotations to a training regime for each individual player. You also have to manage your AA and AAA affiliate Minor League teams. Of course, you can set the computer to manage this stuff too.

In the franchise mode there are built-in team-specific tendencies: certain teams won’t trade for players or may dump overpaid veterans and try to “moneyball” their way to a championship. Moreover, your budget is dynamic: underperform in one season and expect to see that bottom line get a lot smaller.

Once you’ve mastered all of these facets there are two online modes - Diamond Dynasty and Online League - which enable you to, essentially, play fantasy baseball online against other fanatics. Dynasty is based on cards that you collect to get players on your team. You’ll need to train them up to get them good enough for real competition, though.

One of the modes that baseball fans will love is the ability to play any match-up from the season with live updated player stats and rosters. So, say you thought that the Yankees really should’ve beaten the Red Sox on opening day, then you can play that game. The commentary will also change depending on what game it is (ie different parts of the season, where the team was at the time, how the players have been going, even down to “six strikeouts last game” etc).

There’s also a Home Run Derby and Post-Season modes. Both seem to be more for quick games rather than the full simulation that you get from the rest of the game.

Here is a list of stuff that I noted but couldn’t figure out how to put into the rest of the review:

  • If you have a microphone, you can record your own chants and jeers for your user created players. Nothing like hearing yourself yell “you suck!” to boost morale.
  • If you pause the game you can hear stadium noises like hotdog vendors and location-specific stadium announcements (like the Milwaukee sausage race).
  • They made computer simulations of the groundskeepers that come on at the end of the game. I imagine in MLB 14 The Show, the groundskeepers will be player controllable.

MLB 13: The Show
"So real you expect it to sell you hotdogs and beer"
- MLB 13: The Show
Follow Own it? Rating: G   Difficulty: Hard   Learning Curve: 30 Min


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Comments Comments (10)

Posted by LoftyDog
On Wednesday 10 Apr 2013 11:59 AM
I love the show, unfortunatly I have a one game per generation rule for sports games (or else I would have way to many) or else I would probably pick this up
Posted by Sam
On Wednesday 10 Apr 2013 1:06 PM
Awesome never played but love sports games may have to give it a try
Posted by maceotago
On Wednesday 10 Apr 2013 1:26 PM
Completely agree MLB The Show seems to up the ante every year. I was introduced to the franchise back in 2006 when I was in the States and picked up the PSP version. I have never played a game so much, in fact I played it on and off up until last year where I picked up a later version.

The PS3 graphics look awesome. Definitely keen to pick up this at some stage.
Posted by Fatmike
On Wednesday 10 Apr 2013 2:09 PM
Gave MLB12 a good workout last year and loved it. Spent a lot of time in the minor leagues. Hitting in the bigs is hard.

Really want this. Just glad they're around more now. MLB games were hard to track down for a while there.
Posted by t-wade23
On Wednesday 10 Apr 2013 6:39 PM
Love the show best sports game on the market really enjoyable at first was not a baseball fan but now I pretty much know the game in and out thanks to the show and now am watching baseball on espn quite regularly (go giants) lol picked up 12 few weeks ago enjoying it a lot
Is 13 worth the upgrade if anyone can tell me
Posted by BigC
On Wednesday 10 Apr 2013 7:47 PM
Are you actually able to play online with this using an NZ account? Cos I know you can't with 12 which was the only real let down to an amazing game.
Posted by Bank
On Wednesday 10 Apr 2013 9:20 PM
I don't play this series but I keep reading the reviews for it because I love how the Sony studio keeps upping their sequel quality though being a sports game.
Posted by thegr8link
On Sunday 28 Apr 2013 9:02 PM
Always heard great things about The Show series, just worried that I won't have enough time to enjoy it!
Posted by Gen_Elmo
On Wednesday 15 May 2013 11:15 AM
This game is awesome. A shame its so hard to get in NZ. But if your a fan of baseball and enjoy sports games this a great one
Posted by maceotago
On Tuesday 27 Aug 2013 7:44 PM
Picked up the Vita version this week. Outstanding version of this game. A massive improvement on the MLB the Show 06 I have been playing all these years! Loving playing against people online - quite a challenge with the difficulty sliders pumped up but it really captures the feeling of a real MLB game.

I particularly like the number of options you control which affects how the game is played (from difficulty through to the game controls). It means you can really customise it to the way you like playing.

Great game - completely agree with the Excellent rating.

p.s. When I play as the Yankees and A-Rod is batting, they always try to knock his head off - never get anything over the plate. Guess the baseball fans out there I'm playing against are really passionate about their baseball!!!!