Review: MLB 13 The Show on Vita falls short of a home run
Anyone who enjoys baseball games already knows Sony's MLB The Show franchise is the game to own -- that is, if you own a PlayStation console. MLB 13 The Show once again proved to be solid play on the PlayStation 3, but what about on Sony's handheld system?
As with previous installments, MLB 13 The Show launched simultaneously on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita, bringing most of the console version's impressive features to the mobile device. All of the marquee modes are included, such as the signature Road to the Show and Franchise modes, the new Post Season and The Show Live modes, and even a Cross-Play online Home Run Derby. Even better, with cross-platform play, you're able to save your progress in any of these modes on the cloud and continue playing whether on the road with the Vita or at home with the PS3. The only downside is that MLB 13 The Show doesn't take advantage of Sony's Cross-Buy promotion, meaning you'll have to pay twice for what is basically the same game.
Gameplay on the Vita does do a good job replicating that of the PS3 version, but it's far from a perfect transition. There is some slight framerate delay; it shouldn't affect gameplay too much, but it's just enough to be noticeable. Pitching and hitting function the same way as the console version (pulse pitching and batting zones), but the Vita's tight thumbsticks do make it difficult to aim precisely. The change is jarring at first, but the adjustment period is very short -- maybe a few pitches or swings.
While most of the same features and modes seen in the console version are present on the Vita, a lot of the hype has surrounded the online cross-platform Home Run Derby. In this mode, you're allowed to play with friends or randoms over the PlayStation Network regardless of which version you're playing. While it's definitely neat to play with people seamlessly on the PS3 and Vita, the mode, on the whole, is pretty pointless. There's only so much fun to be had with hitting balls out of a park.
Similar to gameplay, MLB 13 The Show on Vita has some impressive visuals, but there is a noticeable downgrade in quality. Player models look fantastic, but overall, the game lacks the visual fidelity of its console counterpart. Animation glitches when the ball is put in play and bland stadium environments are definitely noticeable, but not game-breaking. There also appears to have been cuts in the presentation portion of the game, likely to speed up the pace of play for handheld gamers. Again, the visuals are passable, but for a franchise as solid as The Show, we expect more.
If you're getting MLB 13 The Show for Vita, it's likely because you want to continue your console gameplay on the road -- not for cross platform Home Run Derby. On all fronts, it's clearly better on the PS3. That's not to say the game is bad on Vita, but it may be better offered as a Cross-Buy title. The Vita version doesn't offer you the ability to do anything different, other than play the game on the road. The same features, gameplay and modes are still present, but watered down. For that reason, I'd opt for the console version of MLB 13 The Show. If the Vita is your only way to experience The Show, then you'll be more than happy.