The lights are on
Hello, baseball fans and people who are joining this blog just to make fun of me for being a Chicago Cubs fan! I've been playing the living hell out of MLB 13: The Show for the last week and still don't feel comfortable enough with the game to write a review for it. Full disclosure: I wasn't able to connect test any of the online connectivity or cross functionality with the Vita version until today, so my review won't be coming any time soon.
In the meantime, this blog should offer plenty of insight into this year's game. Feel free to ask me any questions, and demand screenshots of specific elements of the game. I'll try to deliver on as many of your requests as I can. Without further delay, let's get this live blog going. Note: Most of the screenshots featured on this page are taken with an iPhone 5. It's the quickest way for me to capture images and keep playing.
Beginner Mode HittingNothing says "I don't care" more than a difficulty setting called "Beginner mode." Don't write it off too quickly, however. Beginner mode quickly adapts to your skill level and becomes more challenging. This isn't handled through behind the scenes magic. If you are locked in at the plate and launching bombs over the center field wall, the message "beginner hitting rank 2/6" will appear at the top of the screen. Rank 1 delivers fastballs right down the heart of the plate. Rank 2 adds in an off-speed pitch that is thrown to the same location. Rank 3 again uses the two pitches, but periodically changes location. Rank 4, 5, and 6 continue adding breaking pitches and more movement on pitch location. By rank 5, I was starting to strike out a few times per game. Long story short, if you are a free swinger who doesn't take many pitches and strikes out frequently on Rookie or Veteran difficulties, you may want to check out Beginner mode. You may find yourself perfectly tuned to rank 4 or 5. Beginner mode is included in all game types. If you finish up a Franchise game at rank 5, your Road to the Show game will start right where you left off.
Road to the ShowI installed the full 10 gigs to speed up loading when I popped in the game for the first time. The time it just took to load a Road to the Show game: 29.2 seconds. It also takes a little longer to get into the game this year. The presentation at the beginning of the game can be skipped by jamming on the X button, but still adds a good 15 to 20 seconds before you can step into the batter's box or take the mound.
My RTTS player is named Andrew Reiner, and I was drafted by the Dodgers. In my first seven games, I've batted 24 times to a .292 average with seven hits, three runs, one double, two jacks, and an impressive seven RBI. I'm one for two one steal attempts. The new base running system is going to take some getting used to. On a ball hit into the gap, the camera doesn't always follow the ball. On my double, it panned over my shoulder to show my third base coach. The switch wasn't jarring, per se, I just didn't see it coming.
Chattanooga is taking on Tennessee today. Reiner popped out to third in his first at bat. Here's a look at the new camera tracking.
My second at bat was a ground rule double. As I trotted to second, my player ran right through the first baseman.
And here's a shot of the new simulation. It's a little slow, but I enjoy seeing how the game develops.
I should point out: The "Watch Game" button allows you to view the game from the dugout. Once you go into watch mode, I have not figured out a way to stop it, without simulating the rest of the game, or taking my next at bat.
You won't hear any announcers during Road to the Show's Minor League play. However, after launching a three-run homer to center in my third at bat, an announcer started talking about the team maybe wanting to move me up to Triple A. Let's see if the coach listens after this game. I was awarded Player of the Game for my 2-5, HR, 4 RBI, 2B, 2R performance. We won the game, but almost blew it in the ninth with four runs coming in. New closer needed.
Rather than promoting me, my manager moved me up one slot in the lineup. I now bat sixth. Batting practice is part of RTTS' new pregame festivities.
My second game of the day against Tennessee starts with an 0 for 2 effort. My second at bat was a long foul out to right field. It was nice to see the runner on first tag up and gain a base.
I was 0 for 3 until a put a nice inside-out swing on a ball, taking it to the opposite field in right. I'm now going to attempt stealing second on the first pitch. Channeling Vince Coleman speed.
And I was gunned down. I looked like a water buffalo running to second. I probably didn't have enough momentum to warrant a slide, but hopefully it makes coach happy.
We were down 5 to 1 going into the top of the ninth, and ended up winning 6 to 5, thanks to a grand slam by Johnny Thorman. Time it took to play this RTTS game: 9:13.7.
Training and advancement goals haven't changed much. It still costs 40 points or more to bump a stat.
Franchise ModeI'm playing as the Cubs, who are off to a dreadful 2 and 5 start. Actually now that I think about it, that's a realistic start for the Cubs. Nice work on adding realism to the mix, Sony! Out of the box, Tony Campana is still on the Cubs. Edwin Jackson and the other new recruits are on the team, all wearing Cubs hats! I was able to download a new roster update today. I'll see if Tony Campana is on Arizona as soon as I finish this next game.
Jackson is on the hill for a home game against the Brewers, a team I've grown to hate more than the Cardinals. The lineup I am rocking:
1. Brett Jackson, RF2. Starlin Castro, SS3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B4. Alfonso Soriano, RF5. Ian Stewart, 3B6. Welington Castillo, C7. David DeJesus, CF8. Darwin Barney, 2B9. Edwin Jackson, P
A quick note about DeJesus not batting first. He has been awful in my season so far, and he's only rocking a 67 for speed. Brett Jackson is off to a fast start and has a marginally better 71 for speed.
1st InningEdwin Jackson mowed them down one, two, three, with a great assist coming from a nice lung and flip on a grounder by Darwin Barney. Rizzo dug the ball out of the dirt. The play looked fantastic. In the bottom half, Brett Jackson hit a seeing eye single to right off of letter's high 4SFB by Marco Estrada. Castro popped up to short. Rizzo is now up. He's off to a great start with a .317 average and 4 bombs on the year.
Castro's player model looks fantastic. More on that later.
Rizzo flew out to deep center. With Soriano at the dish, Jackson was thrown out at second. Rickie Weeks made a nice play on a ball in the dirt. On to the second. Rammy flew out to center. Jonathan Lucroy followed that up with a shallow fly to right field. Barney gloved it. Barney is a stud fielder.
2nd InningCorey Hart hit a misplaced fastball to left for a single. That brings up the traitor Aramis Ramirez. He's hitting .133 on the season. Glad he's no longer a Cub (read: I miss him like crazy). Rammy flew out to center, and Jonathan Lucroy followed up with a lazy fly to right gloved by Darwin Barney. Barney is a stud fielder. The inning concluded in a strange way. Rickie Weeks hit a rocket down the first base line. Rizzo blocked the ball with his forearm, scrambled to grab it, and then lunged to tag out Weeks. He saved a run. I hope he's okay. That looked painful.
Soriano leads off the bottom of the second with a single to left. Nice piece of hitting on his part. Soriano has a 41 for speed. Ouch. A nice touch between batters: Estrada was shown blowing on his hand. It's currently 47 degrees at Wrigley Field with 10 MPH winds blowing out to left. Ian Stewart continues to be a failed experiment, striking out on a hittable change-up right down the heart of the plate. Welington Castillo with a single to left on a ball that looked like it had double play written all over it, but ended up jumping over Ramirez's glove. Poor, Rammy. That brings up the struggling David DeJesus.
He launches a rocket to the gap in left/center! Soriano scores! Castillo runs like a sloth and has to stop at third. DeJesus pulls into second with a double. Darwin Barney pops up to first on the first pitch. Mat Gamel didn't have to move. Speaking of Barney and Castro's player model looking great...
This is Gold Glover winner Darwin Barney. He looks more like Nick Punto.
Edwin Jackson ended the second with a fly out to left. He put good wood on the ball. I was impressed.
3rd InningGamel flew out to left on a fastball that I thought would earn Jackson a backwards K. The transitional fielding animations are very impressive. I rarely see any kinks or glitches tied to the animation switches, even when I misplay a ball and have to change direction quickly. Estrada goes down on strikes. The announces are already repeating dialogue about Jackson's slider. Aoki tries to bunt, but pushes it foul. He takes a healthy cut on the next pitch with my infield pulled in. Pushing them back. Aoki grounds out to short. Cubs are still up one to zip.
Brett Jackson stays hot with a single to left. Castro belts a two-run shot to left/center. Cubs are up three to nothing! Get those flags ready, Cubs fans! A quick note about Rizzo: His batting waggle is incredibly distracting. His big bat waves into the strike zone always catch the eye when trying to read a pitch. I always stress a little with his timing...and yet, he's one of my best hitters this season. Rizzo with a double to center. I'm playing on Veteran difficulty btw. And Soriano just belted a two-run shot to left. Cubs are up five to nothing. Eat it, Brewers.
Stewart with a double down the first base line! Still no action in the Brewers pen. Odd. Stewart tried to swipe third on a curveball in the dirt. He made a nifty slide that went through Ramirez's leg, but was called out.
The tag got him just under the arm. Good call.
Castillo popped out to Braun in left. DeJesus dribbled one to Estrada. Inning over. I'm a little baffled by the Brewers' lack of bullpen action. Here's hoping I pound Estrada more in the fourth.
4th InningEdwin Jackson is 0-1 on the season, but after three innings has lowered his ERA to 1.93. He had seven strikeouts in the first game. He isn't fooling the Brew Crew today. Segura puts good wood on the first pitch he sees, but grounds out to second. Easy play for Barney. I tried to get Ryan Braun to fish for three pitches out of the zone on an 0-2 count, but he wasn't biting. He eventually went down looking on a questionable 2SFB on the outside corner. Thanks, ump! We'll pay you after the game! Hart goes down like a chump with a soft grounder to short.
The Cubs stay hot in the bottom of the fourth. Barney/Punto with a hard single to left. And here comes the manager. They are putting in Chris Narveson. Edwin Jackson walks down the third base line to discuss the bunt opportunity with the third base coach. Jackson puts down a good bunt to first, but is tagged out by Gamel. Barney/Punto to second. Brett Jackson goes down swinging on a nasty change-up in the dirt by Narveson. I don't want to see that pitch again. I was fooled! Despite setting themselves up for a great scoring opportunity, the Cubs go down quietly in the fourth on a lazy fly to right by Castro.
5th InningRammy caught looking on a nicely placed change-up on the inside of the plate. He battled for nine pitches. Lucroy fists a ball to right for a base hit. Jackson was not happy with the second pitch in the at bat. he was squeezed on a corner and it was called for a ball. A make up pitch for the Braun strikeout last inning? And Weeks just drilled a single to center. Jackson is going deep in counts this inning. Lots of pitches thrown. Time for a mound visit. This is turning into a typical Cubs game. Gamel goes down swinging on three pitches! Two away. Martin Maldanado is coming in to pinch hit. He goes down looking. Jam averted.
Rizzo grounds out to second. Weeks fielded the ball on the run and flipped it to first. The animation for this play was very impressive, very smooth. Soriano pops the second pitch of the inning to center. Stewart will need to take a few pitches, especially since Naverson seems to be locked in. That change-up of his is deadly. Stewart guessed the first pitch correctly and took a hack at it. Thankfully, he sucks and he hit it foul. After three more pitches, he grounded out softly to third.
6th InningShawn Camp is warming up in the bullpen. I think this will be Jackson's last frame. Aaaaannnnddd....I accidentally put Camp into the game. He's going to pitch cold. Aoki drills a double off of the wall in right. Crap. Segura flies out to deep center. Aoki didn't tag up for some reason. He could have made it. Braun and Hart both go down swinging. Camp warmed up quick. His slider looks good.
Ran into a few HTML issues there, folks. Sorry about that. All should be fixed now. For waiting, here's a dumb picture of Hart being mad about swinging and missing.
Even when I'm guessing change-up correctly, I can't hit this thing to save my life. Castillo goes down swinging. It still looks a little goofy when player's lunge and swing at balls out of the zone. DeJesus goes down swinging as well. I should point out that Jeff Ullman is in to pitch. His change-up is just as nasty. Barney/Punto flies out to center. That was my worst inning yet.
7th InningJames Russell is warming in the pen. He's been my best bullpen arm. He has a wicked slider that has been incredibly effective against righties. Rammy legged out a weak chopper down the third base line. Camp fielded it. Didn't put much effort in turning and throwing. No urgency whatsoever. Had he rotated faster, he would have had him. Disappointing. Giving Camp one more batter and then it's Russell's turn. Rammy takes second on a passed ball by Castillo. It was a nice pitch, too!
Lucroy flies out to left. A line appeared at the back-end of the fly ball indicator. This is where you want to position the player to get behind the ball to make a strong throw to the infield. Weeks doubles. Rammy scores. Time to put in Russell. I'm executing a double switch. Russell will take Barney/Punto's slot in the lineup. Luis Valbuena takes Camp's spot. Gamel goes down on that nasty slider I was telling you about.
A quick note: Balls in the dirt often lead to transitions to the field, where the catcher gets up out of his crouch after smothering the ball. This happens way too often, and it takes a fair amount of time to get back to the pitching view.
Pinch hitter Carlos Gomez grounds out weakly to second. Threat over.
Valbuena missed a homer to right by just a hair. The ball bounced off of the dead ivy and Hart played it horribly. Valbuena pulls into second with a double. I should have tried to go for three after that bobble by Hart. Jackson goes down on strikes. Castro just missed his second homer of the game. It almost hit the left field foul pole. He ended up striking out after that drama. Rizzo with an RBI triple! Braun smashed into the left field service door hard on the play, but stays in the game.
And Soriano goes yard for a two-run shot. These Brewers are terrible. Stewart grounds out to end the productive inning.
8th InningHisanori Takahashi is warming in the bullpen. For those wondering, Kyuji Fujikawa, the Cubs closer to be, is not in MLB 13: The Show yet. He must first play one MLB game before Sony can add him. Marmol is my closer for now.
Aoki gets a little under a first-pitch slider and lifts it to left for an easy out. Segura drills a first-pitch fastball to left for a single. Braun almost bounces into a double play. He's safe by a step. Castro bobbles a hot shot from Hart for an error. First and second now with two away. Rammy drills a two-run double to left. It's now 8 to 3, Cubs. Takahashi is warm and in the game. Lucroy flies out to end the Brewers' run. Time to add more insurance.
Castillo with a single to right off of Mike Gonzalez, a pitcher who takes his time in toeing the rubber. Carlos Marmol is now warming in the Cubs pen. DeJesus goes down on strikes. Nate Schierholtz is replacing Takahashi at the plate. I like the look of this kid. I hope he makes the team. And...he hits into a double play. On to the ninth and the wild Marmol!
9th InningWeeks drills an 0-2 slider to left for a single. Marmol's pitch locator sphere is going nuts. Gamel lifts the first out to Jackson in right. Here's hoping that settles Marmol down. Nope. He's still freaking out. Marmol fans pinch hitter Logan Schafer with a nicely placed fastball above the letters. One more to go! And he almost drills Aoki. The pitch placement looked good, too. Marmol...sigh. Aoki squeaks a hit by Castro into center. First and second now. Two gone. And Segura flies out deep to left to end the game! Cubs, win! Cubs, win! Brewers suck!
Here's Soriano doing his post game interview. He was the player of the game.
Edwin Jackson gets the win, going just five innings with five strikeouts. He lowers his ERA to 1.64.
I should also point out that Soriano already has seven home runs for the season. He also has 13 RBI. Part of my testing moving forward will be to see if he goes into a slump and his numbers even out.
That's going to conclude my live blogging for the day. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below and I'll try to answer them as quickly as I can. Thanks for joining me, everyone!
Email the author Andrew Reiner, or follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Game Informer.
In picture #4 it appears that Andrew Reiner and Joe Watson are the same person, Joe Watson is just missing facial hair. Perhaps he's your twin seperated birth?
Are the announcers the same as last year? It is amazing how much detail is put into some of the descriptions.
I thought the cross play was out for this years Show. Is it actually in there like Sly Cooper code style or rip off like SF x T?
Sounding good so far Reiner.
It sounds like fun!