MLB 13 The Show Review (PS Vita)
Handheld gaming has never looked or been as good as it is on a PS Vita.
Understandably so, we were skeptical of the claims by Sony that we would get a console-like baseball experience last year when MLB 12 The Show launched on the Vita.
The first edition of The Show on the Vita was a great effort in many ways. The game delivered a smooth and oftentimes identical experience to that of it’s big brother on the PS3. There were some hiccups and missing features, but for a handheld it was hard to find anything better.
A year later, MLB 13 The Show is here and it accomplishes much of the same that its predecessor did. Not only is the Vita version of MLB 13 The Show the best handheld baseball game ever, it is also easily the second best baseball iteration on the market, only coming marginally behind the PS3 version of the same game.
The games are so close to being identical, I’m actually going to refer you to our review of the PS3 edition of MLB 13 The Show for even more details on the game.
The gameplay experience in The Show this season is a testament to good game design. You have a plethora of options on customizing your gameplay experience. You can use meter pitching, pulse pitching, analog pitching, analog hitting, old fashioned timing hitting -- literally any game of baseball you want to play is almost certainly possible in MLB 13 The Show.
The sliders also make it easy to fine tune your experience to adjust for better pitcher/batter stats, better timing, and proper difficulty. The one thing you can say about The Show is that it will take a lot of laziness to simply not like the game.
Out of the box, MLB The Show plays a fine game of baseball. The timing window has been expanded, which allows for more solid hits on the ball. I have seen a small increase in the number of home runs this year for sure, but I have also played with the sliders some and have saw a lot of the issues I was seeing were fixed easily.
Controlling the game with the Vita is definitely not an exercise in frustration. I never felt like I had less control than I do on the PS3, as placing a fastball where I want it or hitting a baseball was no more difficult or easy on the Vita. It was a relatively similar experience.
The pulse pitching meter is incredibly hard to see against a dark backdrop though, and on the Vita it can be incredibly difficult to actually pitch if your catcher wears a black chest protector. Turning on the outline helps, but it also eliminates the sensibility of the visual improvements to the pulse meter.
Overall, the gameplay experience in The Show on the Vita is a nearly identical version to what you get on the console game. That is incredibly impressive and not to be taken lightly. You can literally take your console experience of The Show with you wherever you go.
Where mobile games are concerned, you typically get a 1-2 punch in both less functional gameplay and less overall game modes. MLB 13 The Show not only hits you with console-like gameplay, you also lose hardly any of the modes from the Console version.
You get the beginner’s mode, instructional enhancements, the Post Season mode, the streamline play now, and the improved franchise mode.
With an identical feature set, you are able to have some interesting cross platform abilities for many of the modes. Thanks to a cloud saving feature, you can play your Show franchises, Road to the Show, and other game modes on both the Vita and the PS3. One can only hope the cloud saving feature eventually leads to you being able to take your Road to the Show or franchise with you into a new edition of the Show someday.
Each mode runs perfectly, as there is no slowdown in the simulation of games or transitions from a sim screen to the game and back again.
What is missing are two big online modes: Diamond dynasty and online leagues. Sony has said that the cartridge for MLB The Show is already busting at the seams -- so it is understandable that not everything from the much larger console version could make it in.
The weakest aspect of MLB 13 The Show is definitely in the missing presentation elements from the console version. Things such as the postseason audio features are not in the Vita version of The Show.
Graphically, the game is a noticeable step down from the PS3 version too. Things aren’t as smooth or detailed. The game still looks good, and you hardly notice a lot of the missing detail, as most of it is fine detail.
The commentary itself is a step backwards from the PS3 version, but on the merits of being a handheld game, it’s far better than the other offerings on the market. There are also no new replays or cut scenes like last year’s game, which is undoubtedly to keep the gameplay experience smooth. Also missing are lineup introductions and a lot of end-of-the-inning lines. Really you are just limited to in-game commentary from the guys in the booth.
From my experiences, online is pretty straightforward with options for online ranked and unranked matches as well as home run derbies. This means your online experience is limited compared to the console version of The Show, but in many ways that’s just fine because I don’t know how ‘built’ for an online experience the Vita version of The Show really is.
Regardless, the lack of options is going to disappoint some, and that does need to be said.
When you fire up a game of The Show on your Vita, you should have pretty decent experiences. I was able to play with minimal lag most of the time, but I did notice some popping in from time to time. It definitely didn’t feel as good as the console version to me, but it should be playable for most. Obviously, your experiences will likely vary.
Simply put, MLB 13 The Show on the Playstation Vita is the best handheld or mobile sports game ever made. I can not think of another game which you could take with you that is this good. You get an almost near-console like experience for $20 less along with the added bonus of portability.
Switching from your Playstation 3 to your Vita for the ultimate Show experience is something I can’t recommend enough if you have the means to do it.
MLB 13 The Show is a very well put together game on the Vita, the best handheld sports game ever, and I can not recommend it enough to anyone wanting to play baseball within a mobile experience.
Score: 9.0 (All-Time Classic)
Graphics: The game looks great. It’s a clear step down from the Playstation 3 version, but you do expect that sort of thing. It’s smooth, it runs great, and you never feel graphics hinder the experience.
Audio: The commentary is limited, which is one of the game’s weak points -- but the on the field sounds are great, especially in Road to the Show.
Learning Curve: If you start with the beginner mode, you will be able to jump in and play meaningful baseball instantly.
Control Scheme: I had absolutely no issues playing The Show in Vita. The controls are familiar and intuitive.
Lasting Appeal: Quick RttS games are incredibly appealing on a mobile platform like the Vita. You probably will be playing this one well into the summer.