Sony and San Diego Studios released the latest installment of their award-winning baseball game for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita Tuesday to yet more rave reviews.
According to reviews, users familiar with the franchise from its previous iterations shouldn't expect huge advances; the changes are more subtle and nuanced, but should improve the package immensely.
The biggest selling point is True Ball Physics, an entirely new code system that governs the spin of the ball of the bat and off any surfaces in the game. The ball now reacts much more realistically; tailing and hooking on line drives, bouncing high or low thanks to top-spin and back-spin; and deflecting more logically off players, bases and walls.
The developers have also taken a cue from the enormously successful NBA 2K12 and created a more realistic and television like presentation from the sounds of the game to the sounds of the commentary.
New camera angles and more animation of players between plays make the action feel much more like a real game. Combine that with the already existing and realistic weather and lighting mechanics from previous games and it might be difficult to tell video game from actual game at first glance.
The developers have also changed the in-game audio, trying to simulate the iconic sounds of baseball, like the buzz of a baseball flying through the air, or the crack of a bat, as accurately as possible.
All of this is a great addition to a game in which one of the main modes is creating a player and completing an entire career as opposed to a controlling an entire team. More realism helps that mode to be more immersive.
But even with all this immersive display, the game misses the mark with numerous reviewers for missing on some basic baseball facts. Players who pick up the game will dream of being able to throw Daniel Bard's 99 mile per hour fastball or Felix Hernandez' nasty slider for themselves.
In the case of those two big names the game is pretty fair, but if you happen to follow Mariners closer Brandon League and dream of making hitters look silly with his filthy splitter, you will be disappointed. League's digital doppelganger doesn't throw the pitch. He doesn't even have a sinker.
It appears as though MLB's new 10-team playoff system will not be supported on release, but will be available in a downloadable update shortly after release, though the developers have been reluctant to release any information about that so far.
On the whole, the game has gotten overwhelmingly positive reviews and looks as though it will continue to be the dominant baseball franchise in the marketplace for at least another cycle.