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Baseball players often perform exceptionally well when their contracts are about to run out. I’m talking about you, Adrian Beltre. A franchise such as “MLB: The Show” doesn’t ever have a walk year, as it’s guaranteed to come out as long as Sony has the MLB license. Still, “MLB 11: The Show” feels like a walk-year wonder.

Not that “MLB 10” was bad. It was the best baseball game of 2010, but it largely coasted on the excellent strides made by “MLB 09” and thus felt somewhat unnecessary. “MLB 11: The Show” is a step forward, though, thanks in part to the new Pure Analog controls.

In the Pure Analog mode, every action is handled by the two analog joysticks. It’s a simple control scheme that can be tough to understand. It also makes this already difficult series even harder.

To pitch, you pull down on the right joystick to simulate a wind-up. When you hit the right spot on the meter, you thrust the stick upward for the delivery. The angle of that thrust determines the pitch’s location. Tilt the stick too far to the right or left and the ball will land far outside the strike zone. You might even claim a few scalps like a virtual Roger Clemens.

Hitting follows a similar basic scheme, but incorporates a few of “The Show’s” old tricks. You swing with the right joystick, pulling down to square up in the batter’s box and quickly pushing up to swing the bat. Push the joystick to the side for a bunt. As in previous versions of “The Show,” you have to aim your swing with the left joystick. That means pointing the joystick in the general direction where you expect the pitch. You can also guess the pitch before every throw. If you guess correctly, you’re more likely to get a hit; guess incorrectly and you’ll probably whiff big. Pure Analog makes hitting even more difficult as your timing needs to be more precise than simply pushing a button.

The expected franchise and individual career modes return, and obviously, you can play “The Show” online. The game also ably supports the PlayStation Move motion controller. The combination of new, immersive control schemes and “The Show’s” traditional in-depth simulation makes “MLB 11” the first must-own baseball game since “MLB 09.”

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Video game publishers seeking your wallets and thumbs dominated PAX East, the annual Boston gaming convention that concluded Sunday. Here are a few of the new games worth your attention.

Nintendo’s cramped booth featured the 3DS, the new handheld that comes out later this month. Playable demos of upcoming games such as “Kid Icarus: Uprising” and “Pilotwings Resort” flaunted 3-D graphics that can be experienced without glasses. The stereoscopic technique works well when you focus intently on the screen, but if you look away, the image devolves into a blurry, headache- inducing mess.

The understatedly hilarious puzzler “Portal” was a surprise hit in 2007, and next month, “Portal 2” doubles up both the laughs and the stumpers. The “Portal 2” demo focused on the game’s new characters, including a nervous robot voiced by Ricky Gervais’ comedy partner Stephen Merchant and a no-nonsense boss played by J.K. Simmons of “Oz” and “Spider-Man” fame.

Rockstar Games exhibited a 20-minute demo of “L.A. Noire” (release set for May). The film noir-inspired police procedural is set in Los Angeles in the 1940s. Players hunt for clues, in-terro-gate suspects and en-gage in the occasional shoot-out or brawl over the course of two-dozen cases. With its unique setting, an unusually delib-erate pace and striking motion-capture per-for-mances from a variety of recognizable actors, “L.A. Noire” looks like a true origi-nal.

“Dungeon Siege III” (also May) mixes the fantasy setting and branching dialogue trees of “Dragon Age” with the overhead combat and rampant loot-drops of, uh, “Dragon Age.” OK, neither game is afraid to embrace fantasy cliches, but at least “Dungeon Siege III” offers cooperative play.

Microsoft’s “Gears of War 3” (September) will immediately top the charts when it’s released for the Xbox 360. Fans who braved the ridiculously long lines played a few minutes of the third-person shooter’s multi-player beta. Surprise: You kill stuff with a chain-saw gun.

The best games I played at PAX East have one thing in common: They won’t be available at a store near you. “Bastion,” “Outland,” “Fez,” “Slam Bolt Scrappers” and “Skulls of the Shogun” will be released through such downloadable services as Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. These stylistically diverse games cover a variety of genres, including the weird brawler-puzzle hybrid “Scrappers.” They prove you don’t need massive teams or millions of dollars to produce good games.

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