Spring represents many things: Life, purity, birth, and baseball. It’s the best time of the year for baseball fans and their respective teams. At the start of the season, everyone is even. Hope has been renewed for a chance to capture a World Series title come fall. If that feeling can’t come soon enough and you need a fix before the fresh cut grass gets played upon on opening day, Baseball Superstars 2013 might be able to ease your anxiety. It’s become an annual installment from Gamevil, and one that has built up a solid following.
Take me out to the ball game
In its standard fashion, Baseball Superstars 2013 offers players a game that is equal parts baseball and RPG. The crossover of sports and roleplaying game isn’t made often, but it makes perfect sense. What’s more like an RPG than seeing a player build himself up from potential-filled prospect to full blown superstar? Baseball Superstars 2013 puts you in the shoes of that player. So break out your cleats, get in some batting practice, and get ready to partake in America’s favorite past time.
Sights and sounds of the game
There’s something inherently intoxicating about walking through the gates of a ball park. There’s the smell of ball park franks and pop corn that will immediately make you hungry, the cracking sound of a ball hitting a bat that makes you instinctively stand up, the excitement of seeing a hometown hero stroll up to the plate with runners in scoring position. It’s all part of the experience, and extremely difficult to recreate virtually. Baseball Superstars 2013 does its darnedest to do it inside its well-established cartoony look, with decent results.
The look ties in nicely with the game’s overall theme, and a new dimensio seems to have appeared this year with a 3D-esque look when the ball is put in play. Character design is where the game loses some points as variants on player builds are pretty basic, though the animations are clean. The best thing Baseball Superstars 2013 has going for it in terms of capturing the essence of baseball is the strike out call. Nothing like an ump ringing up a batter on his third strike. All the audio gets reused regularly, but that’s one sound bite that never gets old.
Called Up to the Pros
Of course, before you actually get to the field to have the chance to hear those calls, you have to make your player. The creation process is pretty basic. You’ll set your player’s name and skin color, along with a few other variables. If you’re a batter, you can choose between three different swings, while pitchers have three different delivery styles as well. Your play style, which just adds a slight modification to your starting point distribution, can also be chosen. There’s really not a whole lot of options and once you start upgrading your player through your career, you’ll have a better chance to define your style then. All in all the player customization leaves a lot to be desired, a surprising area to brush over in a roleplaying game.
Step up to the plate…
If you decide to take the route of a batter in Baseball Superstars 2013, you’ll be tasked with taking your place in the order and doing your best to get on base to give your team a chance to win. Regardless of the type of batter you decide to be, you’ll have the same goal: Put the ball in play. To do this, you’ll have to time your swing as the ball crosses the plate through the strike zone. Pitcher animations will tip you off to the type of pitch being thrown your way so you can judge the way the ball might break. It’s all kind of trial and error, though, as you’ll have to hack away at a few pitches to really get a feel for your timing.
The controls are about as simple as it gets. You can tap to swing at a pitch or you can not tap to lay off and let the ball go by. You’ll also have the option to bunt, usually done with the intention of advancing a runner but can also get you on base once your speed is cranked up, or use a super charged swing. The charge doesn’t guarantee success, though–just improves what you would have had–and are sparse, so use them wisely.
…Or throw strikes over it
Similarly simple and straightforward in concept is the role of the pitcher. Though you have a bit more choice as to your role on the team–starter, relief, or closer–your actions will be about the same. Your goal is to keep your opponents from reaching base and scoring.
To do this, you’ll select a pitch with a tap, then pick the spot you want to pitch at and let the ball fly. Different pitches are intended to yield different results, be to produce a fly ball or a ground ball, but either way your goal is to get the opposing player out. Once you’ve aimed your pitch, which is no easy task thanks to a slightly inconvenient virtual joystick, a circle will begin to close around the spot you chose to throw. Stopping it when it encompasses your aiming reticle will increase accuracy. After that, just watch the results as the batter swings. Wash, rinse, repeat until the side is retired.
There are a wide array of ways to improve your players’ ability throughout his career. Every option aside from simply leveling up, done by collecting experience points, will require G Points or Stars. G Points are in-game currency earned through playing, while stars generally have to be paid for with real life cash. Both can then be used to purchase training sessions, boosts, equipment upgrades, and a plethora of other things that may improve your performance out on the field.
There’s no drug testing in the virtual world, so go wild and do what it takes to get the win. You can even juice up your abilities right before taking the field with single game modifiers. Every improvement in your game will be incremental and rather small unless you fork over some cash, so don’t expect to notice a huge improvement because of a single upgrade. Like a real pro, it takes some time to gain new skills to utilize on the field.
If the game’s AI isn’t presenting enough of a challenge for you, you can take your team out into the field against another player. While you can only play five Player vs. Player matches a day, it’s the only time you’ll be able to experience both the pitching and hitting aspects of Baseball Superstars 2013 in the same game. You pitch when facing the player’s batter and when your batter is up to the plate, your opponent takes the mound. It’s a shame there’s a limit on times you can play a day as it essentially caps how often you can get the full offering of Baseball Superstars 2013.
Baseball Superstars 2013 isn’t a baseball simulation. This isn’t the game you’ll want to play if you’re looking for a true-to-the-sport experience. If you’d like to have a little fun while combining the thrill of sports with the character building of an RPG, it’s a great option. There are tons of ways to improve your character, plenty of goals to accomplish every seasons, and even though the game is a bit repetitive, striking out an opposing batter or connecting on a swing that sends the ball flying over the fence is a rewarding feeling. Baseball Superstars 2013 isn’t quite worthy of the pennant, but it’s just a season or two away from really hitting its potential.