MLB 12 The Show Review
- Posted March 6th, 2012 at 13:20 EDT by Adam Dolge
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One of the best baseball games to date, MLB 12 The Show gets an overhaul just where it needed it. With cross-platform play, hardcore fans can take their long season wherever they want.
- Terrific broadcast presentation
- Realistic ball physics
- Cross-platform play
- Pulse pitching feels out of place
- Commentary is good, but sometimes dated
- Game modes could use greater enhancement
Baseball is a game of patience. Innings can drag on for what feels like hours, and unless you are in the stadium with a dog in one hand and a tall one in the other the thrill of the game is lost in long moments of batter verse pitcher battles. Yet, it’s America’s game, the traditional pastime that’s practically stitched into our flag. As the season begins fans across the country can’t help but get excited to see how their favorite team looks at a run for the pennant. And like clockwork we get another installment in the venerable MLB The Show series, looking to tap into that fan excitement and hopefully drum up enthusiasm in its new features, visual overhaul, and enhanced gameplay mechanics. MLB 12 The Show is no different in its attempt to stir the pot, and for the most part it succeeds.
On the surface--and really if that’s as far as you look at any annual sports game release, you’ll wonder if you accidentally bought last year’s game—MLB 12 looks strikingly similar to MLB 11. Yes, there are visual improvements across the board, and new lighting and the focus on the broadcast side of presentation gives this game a slick new coat of polish, but it’s very much the same looking MLB game we’ve loved for the past several years. That’s not a bad thing, necessarily. This is a great looking game, and sounds and looks extremely authentic—that could be because of the new True Ball Physics system. Balls fly off bats like never before and skid across the grass just like in real life. You can really tell when the ball has spin. Details like this, and simply watching the clouds roll in and the shadows change helps enhance the baseball experience.
But don’t stop reading because you think this is just a slightly enhanced version of MLB 11. There are a number of additions that make MLB 12 The Show standout, but the first that will grab your attention is the cross-platform play between the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita versions. You have probably seen Sony advertise this as its game changer, and while that’s a bold statement, the facts are clear. You can now take your save files to the cloud and play Franchise, Season, and Road to The Show on either PS Vita or PS3. You can only do this with one save file per mode per PSN account, but you can overwrite it as many times as you like. For the diehard fans, this could be a massive selling point, and for the casual fan, this is just extra incentive to keep playing months from now.
In the gameplay department, Sony’s San Diego Studio made a number of small under-the-hood changes that all add up to a more complete game than its predecessors. Last year we saw the addition of analog controls, and MLB 12 takes it a step further and irons out some of its wrinkles. Your right analog stick is still used to control stride and swing, but the left analog stick controls where you swing in the zone. A word of caution to those new to the series: these controls are truly difficult to learn, and even harder to master. It’s hard enough relying on split-second instincts to determine if the pitch is in the zone, now you have two sticks to control your swing. Of course, the veterans will likely love the more authentic, controlled swing. It’s a bit pointless to complain that Sony didn’t create more interesting options for the beginners since you can change how you control pitching and hitting in the options, but if playing as a beginner it just takes one button to swing and pitch. This adds up to a pretty boring experience for the true beginner.
To say The Show is a difficult sports game is an understatement; it’s a hard game in general. There is so much to consider when on the field and pitching that it’s easy to forget you are playing a videogame. It’s almost like you need to make a grocery list of responsibilities before you throw the ball. This isn’t a complaint at all, it’s just simply pointing out that Sony did a great job of making you ... (continued on next page)
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