Developer: Gamevil
Price: Free
Version: 1.0.0
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

America’s Pastime isn’t just exclusive to North America anymore. What was once a sport that was only played from ‘sea to shining sea,’ has now made the jump to the worldwide stage. There is no better example of this global expansion than Gamevil’s Baseball Superstars franchise. With forty five million downloads and counting, this series has found quite the following on iOS. Can 2013’s iteration match up with the successes of the past, or will it fall short of previous acclaim?

Where previous seasons had the option of an exhibition, this time around only seems to focus on two separate tracks: pitchers and batters. Players can create one of each character type and start micromanaging the athletic avatars through a simulated career. As a batter, players will only control take part in the at-bats where the created athlete is at the plate. Under most circumstances this will boil down to three or four at-bats per game. If pitching mode is selected, players will toss for one to two innings, every other game.

The antics on the diamond are very reminiscent of classic arcade baseball games of the NES era, with a fantastic looking hand-drawn art style. Every frame is rendered smoothly, with not even the slightest hint of frame skipping. Each at-bat moves extremely quickly, even at the default rate of speed, which can actually be increased in the settings.

This free-to-play experience is supplemented through in-game microtransactions. In an extremely encouraging note, there is absolutely no requirement to make any purchases in order to continue play. Just over the review period alone, the game allowed for over ten consecutive hours of play, with not so much as a dime spent. Would spending money have helped speed up each character’s leveling-up process? Most likely. But it is nice to know that it isn’t required in order to get the full experience.

An additional online component helps put a bow on the top of an already outstanding freemium experience. Baseball Superstars 2013 finds a way to hook players in though bite-sized game sessions, and keep them coming back for inning after inning. This is a worthy successor to the franchise’s throne and sure to coax another few million downloads from iOS gamers. Why not make yourself one of them?

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