By: Mike Valenti

This was a tough review to write. Two crowds will emerge when looking at MLB The Show 13, this year’s entry in the franchise. One side will say (with respect to the kid from the AT&T commercial) “We want more, we want more!” while the other will say “The game is already damn near perfect, let’s enjoy.”

Which side is right? It’ll be up to you decide which side you are on. Either way the bottom line is that MLB The Show 2013 rocks.

As a baseball geek this game gives you all the little things that add up to the big score. I can shorten this review by 2000-words by simply telling you that everything you loved about previous editions is back, polished and better than ever.

The visuals are gorgeous. Frankly, not much improvement could be made in this department on current hardware. Most of the players’ faces are spot on. The lighting is stunning. The only minor knocks could for some nasty-looking fans in closeups and dry city backdrops behind stadiums, but overall who are we kidding? This game is the standard in sports gaming visual design.

The sounds of the game are equally fantastic. All of the trimmings are here, from the booth to the field, at an exceptional level. Commentary needs a bigger overhaul but I think it might be maxed out until next gen – please kill me for saying that phrase again. Thankfully enough new stuff pops in to make it satisfactory. This is as close as I’ll come to knocking this game, and it’s more of a small gripe than anything else.

Game developer SCE Studios San Diego Nice added some welcomed tweaks to an already stellar presentation package. The random little things, like players being interviewed, new replays, overlays, etc. are nice touches that enhance the realism. Is it groundbreaking? No. But how can you re-invent an already strong product? And, why would you? You feel like you are watching a real game, especially in broadcast mode. For my tastes I’m not sure what else you’d like, but perhaps this is where the “give me something new” vs “I love it as is” argument takes place most overtly. Perhaps Chris Collinsworth blurting out random analogies that make no sense? Maybe some Lee Corso reset about a construction beep? I think not. The Show nails it.

The gameplay is where the diehard fans will notice the desired “changes.” The new hitting windows and timing implementation that really open the offensive game up are fantastic. Better hit variation, as well as a bunch of new timed animations, all make the best playing sports game even better and open to creative batting. It all comes together as a realistic finely tuned package. Is it easy? Hell no. Rewarding? Hell yes (if you don’t break your controller or suplex your dog in the process of learning). There are new tweaks to the throwing meter available to you, but I don’t really use them. Pitching options still vary between standard, pulse or meter. Again: pick your poison, pick your play style. The options you have is part of the beauty here. Do as you like, and it all works unless you are completely insufferable and want to hate this game.

Overall it comes down to what your expectations are. If you love baseball and the series, buying The Show 2013 is a no brainer. It’s slick, finely tuned and slightly better in many small and appreciated ways than its predecessors. On the other hand if you demand groundbreaking changes year over year (and you’re out of your $#@$#@% mind) then maybe the $60 would be better spent on a SimCity server fund. Whether it’s Road to the Show (in which I personally have zero patience) or the Franchise (which is digital cocaine) this game will destroy what semblance of free time you have or rationalize to have.

On higher difficulty levels it can be as stressful as watching Jim Leyland leave Jose Valverde in to burn alive, but oh so rewarding when you make a heady move or key pitch. Be warned, this game takes time. Bottom line, enjoy the rarity in today’s sports gaming world: a balanced, well crafted, realistic and – gasp — fun game to play in a yearly franchise.


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