Review: MLB 13 The Show

“MLB The Show” has added layer after layer of realism each year, further blurring the line between fact and fiction. But as the franchise has faithfully captured the action on the diamond, it also has authentically replicated the sport’s most difficult task — hitting. The frustration of simply putting the bat on the ball has led to a high learning curve for newcomers, so developer Sony San Diego has addressed this in “MLB 13 The Show” — the latest iteration to the critically acclaimed sports series. But has the “The Show” taken a step back in order to reach a broader audience.

For those new to the series, Beginner Mode is a perfect setting to get your feet wet. This new setting helps novice players learn the fundamentals — most notably timing at the plate. It’s an adaptive-AI system that starts you out with fastballs over the plate and slowly mixes in pitches outside of the strike zone and then breaking balls and off-speed pitches. The mode dynamically updates your skill level so you can see how quickly you’re progressing. It’s a thoughtful addition to a game that prides itself on realism but is also acknowledging that it needs to be more accessible without alienating the hardcore fans of the series.

Another new mode to the series is Post Season mode. With an MLB regular season lasting 162 games, many players might not have the time or the patience to play through a schedule to get to the playoffs. This mode allows you to bypass the regular season and jump straight into the pressure-packed playoff setting. You can play with one team or control all 10 teams and can also select which teams are in the playoffs and select the matchups. The atmosphere is the big difference once you reach the playoffs. The stadium is packed with fans waving towels. The field has series-specific logos and is decked out with red-white-and-blue flags that hang near the stands. The developers continue to add the little touches that avid baseball fans notice.

Veterans of the series…

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