Once again, MLB 13 the Show is the king of the virtual diamond. It's only been released for two days, but it is already pretty clear that it is the premier baseball simulation again this year.
That said, the gamer in me is always looking for the next level. One of the features I've been pining for in a baseball game for years is the Create-a-Park feature.
Baseball is one of the few sports where the playing field varies in dimensions from venue to venue. Because of this, each park not only offers a different environment and feel, but the size and physical variations can affect gameplay.
With The Show already boasting arguably the best visuals of any sports video game, I get excited every time I think of being turned loose to create a park for my team to play in.
I recently asked The Show's Senior Producer Ramone Russell about the feature during a Twitter Q&A session just after MLB 13 The Show's launch. The response wasn't exactly confirming, but it wasn't completely discouraging either.
MLB The Show @MLBTheShow
@BrianMazique @BleacherReport Maybe ;) - Ramone #MLB13TheShow #QA3/5/2013, 9:01:44 PM
This idea has to have at least been discussed over the last five years or more by developers. It is understandable that the development team would want to take things slow with such a potentially big feature, though.
The only thing worse than not including a feature is to include it in the hype, only to have it function poorly. The Show community would likely take to this feature and share their creations online via SportsConnect and on YouTube.
As I mentioned in the tweet, I'm totally willing to get the opinions of others that love the series on this feature. Thus I've included the referenced poll.
My ideas and suggestions for the series don't end with Create-a-Park, though that is my biggest desire. Here are a few other features/enhancements that would only strengthen The Show's hold on the title as king of the baseball simulations.
Re-Work the Commentary
There aren't many aspects of the Show that aren't great, but the commentating is one of them. I'm not as down on it as others, but I'd be lying if I said it hasn't fallen behind a bit.
The best examples of commentating today come from the games that employ an engine that assimilates the commentators dialogue into a conversational flow.
While I like Matt Vasgersian's voice for baseball, and the timing and comments are almost always appropriate, the other members of the team seem almost totally detached from the play-by-play comments, and many of the phrases have been used for several versions.
If the commentating for the Show 13 was sharper, I would have rated the game at least a nine overall. With the series excelling in so many areas, it doesn't kill the game of course, but it makes us yearn for improvement in the less-than stellar aspects.
Take Advantage of Baseball's Rich History
Many sports games are seeing success incorporating historic teams and players from their respective sports. I'd love to see The Show do this moving forward.
A classic mode that allowed gamers to re-create or change the events from historic moments in baseball would be awesome. Because of baseball's nearly unrivaled history, The Show could create the most engaging and fun version of this type of option in any sports game.
Imagine trying to replicate Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hit streak as a part of the New York Yankees' challenge. How about trying to trying to hit .400 with Ted Williams in the final two weeks of the 1941 season, or even trying to set Rickey Henderson's stolen base record with the Oakland A's in 1982?
All of these moments could be replicated with accurate rosters, throwback uniforms (baggy-fit and all) and even television or film presentation.
Games from the 1950's and earlier would be in black-and-white, games from the 1960's to 1970's would have that 70's look (the correct term escapes me), and so on.
This would be totally immersive and addictive. Attaching unlockables to the mode would be a must and only make the option even more of a fan favorite. I'd even be willing to purchase this as downloadable content.
I'm thoroughly enjoying the Show 13, even though I'm still struggling a bit with my fantasy Chicago Cubs in franchise mode. But it's never too early to start dreaming about next season.
Being a Cubs fan teaches you that skill.