The Final Countdown: MLB 13 The Show
Welcome to The Final Countdown, GameZone's newest series where we get hyped about games that are just around the corner! As the hours pass, we are counting down the reasons you should be excited (or worried) about upcoming major releases.
We're less than one week away until MLB 13 The Show releases exclusively for the PlayStation 3 and Vita. Yesterday, we covered MLB 2K13, which is also launching on the PS3 as well as the Xbox 360. But as any PlayStation owner knows, The Show is the must-have game when it comes to baseball.
This year, it looked like The Show was going to be the only game available for baseball fans, but thanks to a last minute deal 2K reached an agreement with Major League Baseball, the Major League Baseball Players Association, and Major League Baseball Advanced Media, everyone will have a baseball game to enjoy. Regardless, The Show has firmly established itself as the the king of baseball games. Looking to keep its crown, SCEA San Diego Studios wasn't content with just rehashing last year's title.
"This year we have nice mix of incorporating some new features that we thought were very compelling and evolving on our current feature set," Community Manager Ramone Russell told me. Below are just a few of the additions and improvements that Sony has made with MLB 13 The Show.
Pick up the bat with a new Beginner Mode
There's no denying last year's version of The Show was insanely difficult. I consider myself to be fairly skilled when it comes to baseball games, but even I struggled with hitting (apparently I wasn't the only one).
"We tried to make the game a lot easier and more accessible to our brand with Beginner Mode," Russell told me. "The feedback we heard was The Show was difficult and a little on the inaccessible side."
It appears that Zone Analog Batting will make a return in MLB 13 The Show, but Sony is taking a few steps to create a more welcoming experience for veterans and newcomers alike. The first step was to make the timing and hitting windows wider.
"That just means you're going to get more base hits," Russell clarified. "We haven't turned it into an arcade baseball game where you're scoring 60 to 70 runs per game. It's just easier to hit and your hits have more effects. Hopefully people won't get nearly as frustrated."
"Let's say your hitting, if you can't hit a fastball down the middle it's going to keep throwing them to you until you can get the hang of what it's like to hit one."
Play along with the actual MLB season
Sony is looking to merge The Show with what's happening in real life -- sort of. A new mode, called Show Live, will allow you to play along with the real MLB schedule. You'll be able to play the game as its scheduled, with the real lineups, starting pitchers, and player ratings from that date.
An example given to me was on opening day, let's say Andrew McCutchen hitting first instead of third. The Show Live will have that game, and in it he'll be hitting first. It will also show you all of the stats of that live game.
"You can play along with the season and try to recreate either what he did, or try to create your own statline," he told me. "You can go back and play games that have already been played. You can even play future games as long as we have the probables."
Additionally, the game will recognize events happening in real life and mimic it in the game. If the pitcher has a really good game or a batter has a really bad game, the announcers will recap their performance from their previous games. In essence, Show Live will keep you in tune with what's going on in real life.
Skip ahead to the playoffs
A 162-game season is a heck of a long time. Even the most passionate of baseball fans will agree that playing through a season in its entirety can be a tiresome process, not to mention time consuming. Imagine doing a dynasty. There's just too many games to play. MLB 13 The Show is introducing a new Post Season mode. This lets you skip ahead to the playoffs and get that post season experience.
"The crowd is different," I was told. "They are really amped up because it's the playoffs. We have all new presentations, specific commentary. Awards are given out."
The point of this mode is to experience the playoffs without the rigors of a 162 game season. I'm a Cubs fan. I've waited long enough to see my team in the playoffs. Let me skip right to it. And it better damn well be a crazy environment! We're talking 100+ years of built up disappointment!
Road to the Show and Franchise modes are better than ever
Franchise and Road to the Show are MLB The Show's core season modes that people love. For those unfamiliar, Road to the Show is like an RPG mixed with baseball simulation. You create a player and experience the rise of minor league to fame. This year, Sony is all about creating a first-person experience. It has a different audio mix that has been completely re-mastered for that on-field experience. Your teammates, coach, and fans will all be a bit louder. Additionally, Sony has done a ton of work with the camera system and has added over 1,000 presentations.
"We're really taking Road to the Show to the next level." But that's not the only core mode getting some love. I was told Sony returned to the basics with Franchise mode.
"We looked at our budget system and it wasn't nearly as good as it needed to be so we ripped it out and we started from scratch." The result is a new risk/reward budget system that gives you more money when you're over .500 and less money when you're under .500. This will allow you to take those small market teams -- the Padres and the Pirates -- and turn them into the Washington Nationals or San Francisco Giants. Of course, you'll need to experience a few consecutive years of success and excellence.
PlayStation Vita Cross Platform play returns with a new mode
MLB 13 The Show will still support cross platform play between the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita. This time, though, a new cross platform Home Run Derby will be enabled. You'll be take your Vita on the road and play against other Vitas and PS3s in online Home Run Derby.
"Every other major feature in the PS3 version, outside of some of the presentation aspects, has been added to the Vita version," Russell assured me. Unfortunately, MLB 13 The Show will not be offered as a Cross Buy title, meaning you'll have to purchase both versions separately.