March 12, 2013
Painting the Black
MLB The Show 13's tagline boasts that the game is, "So real it's unreal." How real is it? So real Aaron Hill holds his hands at helmet-level; so real Luke Scott resembles a Civil War re-enactor; so real Nike's swoosh receives prominent placement on players' undershirts (for realism's sake, of course); and so real that, at its best, it blurs the line between playing and watching a game.
Part of The Show's charm is capturing nuance. While replicating every player's stance and delivery is an impossible task, The Show does get many right. Anthony Rizzo holds his bat at his belly and wiggles it around while Fernando Rodney shows a minimal leg lift before delivering the ball. There's an added layer of realism involved as pitchers pronate their arms and batters roll their wrists during swings; necessary actions in real life yet ignorable within the friendly confines of a game. Replay functions have been in sports video games for years now to varying degrees of use. The Show gives you reason to examine the finer details—from pitch grips to crow hops—because the level of care is evident.
The dedication to realism goes beyond cosmetics. MLB.com provided the developers with real-world spray charts. The result is a gameplay experience that sees extreme pull hitters treated with virtual shifts. You're still not managing against Joe Maddon here, but it's one of those things that's easy to see and easier to overlook. Then there's the franchise mode. The addition of a top-50 prospect icon is a nice touch, though the real upgrades are in the form of revamped postseason and scouting experiences. Thanks to new sounds and sights the postseason feels like the postseason.
Scouting has undertaken a different feel as well. You get to hire, fire, and assign scouts based on different criteria. Every team has a list of the upcoming drafts' blue chippers available to them, but reports