'MLB 13: The Show' delivers stellar play

If I was the marketing person for “MLB 13: The Show,” this is how I would advertise it: “You can text message your friends while you bat, because this game moves so slow, you will have all the time in the world!”

Don’t confuse this game’s slowness with badness. “MLB 13: The Show” is stellar.

But it is baseball, so you’d better have the patience to wait for a good fastball.

I really love this new “MLB 13: The Show,” even more than previous “Show” games.

The batting, pitching and fielding is as sweet as honey.

When you’re batting, you can use one button to swing regularly; another button to swing hard for power; and yet a third button to take odd swings (to hit foul balls to stay alive at the plate, and to hit sacrifice flies). All those options rock.

When you’re pitching, it is an exquisite experience to place different speeds of fastballs, curves, slurves and other signature throws around plate corners.

Fielding is a completely perfect bit of ease.

And the umpires are just as iffy as in real life, occasionally making terrible “strike” and “ball” calls.

The big difference from previous “Shows” is, I am able to hit the ball like crazy!

I won one game 19-0, including a grand slam, while pitching a one-hitter.

For me, big offense is a whole new thing in the “Show” series, which usually makes me suffer and struggle.

So why am I winning so much?

First, the game has an “easy” mode so casual players can hit home runs, too.

The game’s artificial intelligence keeps track of how good you are doing over the course of many games. If you keep beating the hell out of other teams, “The Show” will start making it harder to win.

But secondly, when you stand at the plate, “The Show” has improved how you see the ball leaving the pitcher’s hand and then zipping toward the camera.

That makes it easier to keep your eye on the ball (which is everything in baseball), so you can knock the wrapper off of it.

The game does mess with you. That 19-0 game I won was followed by a mere 5-4 victory.

And, yes, patience is key. Sometimes when I have a guy at the plate, I will go get coffee, write emails or go to the washroom. When I get back to the game, that same batter is standing there facing, say, a 2-2 pitch count.

Patience pays off. Most of my hits come off of two-strike counts. Most of my other hits come off of first pitches. I have to mix patience and impatience to confuse the game’s artificial intelligence.

Also, there are many ways to play “The Show” — via a complete season, a fantasy draft, trades, budgets, exhibition games, a playoff mode, an online mode and much more.

This game is more fun than actual baseball.

(“MLB 13: The Show” by Sony retails for $60 for PS 3; $40 for PS Vita — Plays amazing. Looks terrific. Challenging. Rated “E.” Four out of four stars.)

Contact Doug Elfman at delfman@review journal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.


My favorite series of all time returns with “God of War: Ascension” (Sony).

This prequel begins after young Kratos, the warrior, has killed his wife and daughter through the trickery of Ares, which begins his quest for vengeance.

Oh, there will be blood, as Kratos deals with insanity, confusion and bloodlust.

The game makers say they have developed some differences in the way the game progresses.

But it’s still “God of War,” so once again you swing blade weapons, but you also pick up swords, clubs, spears and slings off of rivals, and you can still grab and rip evil beasts apart.

It’s still a storytelling effort, with mythological, cinematic scenes, voice-over narratives, climbing, jumping, puzzle-solving entrances and boss-villain monsters taller than buildings.

The game retails for $60 for PS 3. It’s rated “M” for blood, gore, intense violence, nudity and sexual content.

“Tomb Raider” (Square Enix) is a masterful reboot of this series that long ago wore out its welcome.

It is now fully revived in a new and exciting, fleshed-out action-adventure that is reminiscent of Sony’s “Uncharted 2” and “God of War.”

You portray Lara Croft, archeologist, who crash-lands in a boat onto a beautiful island inhabited by awful, terrible men who kidnap and torture many shipwreck victims.

This is the best bow-and-arrow game ever, but you also get some amazing combat and gun play, as you fight your way through tough situations, solve puzzles to open chambers, and travel by foot across mountains, coasts, leafy forests and shantytowns in a 20-hour tour de force.

The game retails for $60 for Xbox, PS 3 and PC. It’s rated “M” for blood, gore, intense violence and strong language.

In “Sniper Ghost Warrior 2” (City Interactive), you portray a covert operative who treks through forests and foreign cities, armed with a sniper rifle, charged with taking out terrorists.

It’s a first-person shooter. You use a high-powered scope to find bad guys, then you figure out which ones to go after first. You pause your breath and compensate for bullet trajectory.

If you mess up, you’ll trigger alarms that cause more enemies to appear, possibly flanking you. Easy modes help you with a mini map and trajectory helper, but the hardest mode does not. It comes with an online multiplayer for duels.

The game retails for $40 for Xbox 360, PS 3 and PC. It’s rated “M” for blood, drug reference, intense violence, sexual themes and strong language.

(Ratings: “E” for “Everyone;” “T” for “Teen;” “M” for “Mature 17+”)