PS3 Reviews: MLB 12: The Show Review

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MLB 12: The Show Review

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Overall Rating:       8.5






SCEA San Diego Studios

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Release Date:

March 6, 2012

For the past several years, the best baseball game on store shelves – and in some cases, the very best overall sports title available – has been Sony’s The Show. And in 2012, the trend continues. Although a couple of the new additions need a few extra tweaks and some aspects of the production are starting to show its age, MLB 12: The Show is indeed the best option for baseball fanatics. MLB 2K12 is a solid game but it just doesn’t have the level of refinement and authenticity on display here.

This fresh iteration of the award-winning franchise looks great. The character detail is good, the animations (apparently amped-up this year) are fantastic, and the designers definitely capture the general feel and flow of our national pastime. That being said, it’s about time the team looks into adding some extra flash and flair in regards to the stadiums and ambient effects. It’s just starting to feel a little stale. Other than that, the visuals are more than competent and in many ways, downright impressive.

If there’s one element of this production that gets a thorough beating when compared to 2K’s effort, it’s the commentating. MLB 2K12 may feature the best announcers in the history of sports video games, and that’s hardly an exaggeration. Those color men are fine in The Show, but they sorta pale in direct comparison. I like everything else better, though, and that includes the on-field audio effects and soundtrack. The bottom line is that SCEA San Diego sets out to generate a realistic technological presentation, and they always achieve that.

I mentioned in my MLB 2K12 review that I almost always leave the pitching mechanic to last during my analysis. But it turned out so well in 2K’s game that I decided to start with the pitching system in The Show. And once again, I found something new— It’s called “pulse pitching” so instead of the familiar meter, you get a pulsing circle that shrinks in the batting box. You have to make your pitch when that circle is as small as it can be; this will increase your speed and accuracy.

I like it but in some ways, I almost prefer the meter. Thing is, the “pulse” feature reminds me a little of the new swing mechanic in Hot Shots Golf and again, I definitely prefer the old-fashioned meter. Still, the pulse pitching in The Show works very well and doesn’t feel gimmicky; you still have to nail down your timing, and it offers a rewarding challenge. Therefore, I can’t say the meter was qualitatively better; it’ll probably come down to personal preference for baseball aficionados.

But this leads me to another new feature that isn’t quite ready for primetime, in my view. It involves the new ball rotation physics, which is supposed to add a dynamic realism to how a ball travels across the field of play. So now, the path of the struck ball isn’t so predictable, as ball height and direction can change based on various factors, and it can even hit bases and go caroming off (as occasionally happens in real life). It’s something the game dearly needs for the sake of added authenticity, but this tech needs more refining and polish.

The problem is that the ball will do things too often that aren’t realistic, simply for the sake of showing off these fancy new physics. The more you play, the more obvious this becomes. Hopefully, the team will make the appropriate changes for next year’s entry; I fully expect they will, and understand the need to experiment a bit. Plus, it really is an appreciated new feature that, when perfectly implemented, will enhance the realism. And of course, that’s always the goal when it comes to The Show, as fans well know. ...yes, that rhymes.

As for the rest of the production, it’s exactly what the baseball fans are looking for. It has the precise and responsive control of past entries, along with all the insane depth for the hardcore followers. You can dive into Road to the Show and Franchise modes with glorious gusto, knowing full well your enthusiasm and meticulously managerial nature will be rewarded. There’s even the new Diamond Dynasty mode that lets you create a team using custom players you obtain via trading card packs.

Honestly, being an old-school baseball card collector, this virtual version of card-trading is wicked cool. You go online and trade or sell cards with other players and try to build the best team possible; I just so wish they would add a Legends pack or something! You know, get a chance to put Joltin’ Joe and Hammerin’ Hank on the same team. And of course, through it all, you always have the option of 3D and Move, and the best part is that Move can be used for just about everything this game has to offer (not just the Home Run Derby, like last year).

The Move functionality is decent but it’s still not quite like throwing or hitting in reality. It’s close but hey, there’s a reason why it’s not 100% realistic. That’d be borderline impossible, for one thing and for another…nobody would be able to play it. A quote from Tom Hanks’ character in “A League of Their Own:” “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.” At the very least, using the Move will get you some exercise, right?

MLB 12: The Show is yet again the victor. More than anything, it just feels like baseball. That being said, the new gameplay features aren’t 100% on-point and it’s probably time to issue a visual update for the stadiums. Oh, and don’t forget that you can take this game on the go with PlayStation Vita; transfer your game save and just keep playin’. You’ve probably seen the commercial, yes?

The Good: Top-notch design and animations. Solid sound effects and a good soundtrack. Precise, reliable control. Huge amount of content and depth. Physics are just about right. New features, despite being a little rough, are appreciated.

The Bad: Might need to take the next graphical step. Refinement needed for those new ball physics. Move functionality is decent, but not great.

The Ugly: “Okay, that ball is doing weird things a little too often.”

3/13/2012 Ben Dutka

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New Comment System

Legacy Comment System (13 posts)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012 @ 12:26:44 AM

I passed '11, I need this right now. Besides there's always good to grab a sports game before the season starts.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012 @ 12:29:50 AM

Was waiting for this review. Didn't buy last year but might this year. I have MLB 10 the show and recall the graphics being amazing. Are they really getting dated? What about the new hitting features? Can u still guess pitch and location?

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012 @ 8:57:14 AM

Yeah, there are a few different guess settings. For guess pitch, if you want pitch and location to be guessed, the setting needs to be at 1/4.

Makes it awfully tough at Legend difficulty, though. (Your plate coverage is better without pitch guessing)

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012 @ 12:37:39 AM

I bought '09 and '10. Since they were pretty much the same game, I passed on '11. Is there really enough differences between last years version to warrant a purchase this year, or is it more of a roster upgrade as the past versions?

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012 @ 9:03:18 AM

It's a sports game, so there's only so much refining you can do. The roster upgrades are definitely useful, though, as there are even some team changes. For example, the Florida Marlins are now the Miami Marlins. So aside from their uniform change, there's also other teams with new logos. The Jays have gone back to their older logo. The Orioles have a new logo. Some other teams have new logos as well now.

We're also at a point when the new roster completely changes the scope of the game. The types of players beginning to dominate the league are younger more athletic (and less barbaric meatheads). In the last couple years, the game's gotten faster, too.

Players are also balanced more appropriately. In MLB '10, Bautista, for example, wasn't made into much of a power hitter as prior to then, he wasn't even a starter. Now, obviously, he has near max power.

So, yeah... hard to answer. It's not inherently different (although, since '10 the physics are much better, with the exception of the occasional ball physics blunder... ie. foul tip backwards goes off like a rocket! lol.

I'd say it's a much better game from '10. I typically wait 2 years between, and that usually is good enough for me. Plus it's definitely fun to make your own team.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012 @ 9:30:48 AM

Did they change the hitting in 11' where you only aim up, down, left, right, rather than exactly on the ball? i.e. slightly left and a tad up. I thought I heard something like that. I like how u have to be exactly on the ball.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012 @ 10:11:34 AM

It's been that way since '07. Of course, now there are different ways to swing. You can select timing only, zone, pure analog (use the right stick to start back then flick forward to swing), and pure analog plus zone.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012 @ 10:24:43 AM

Thanks, just saw videos on pitching and hitting. Stride and aiming seems hard but awesome at the same time.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012 @ 11:11:35 AM

Yeah, it's definitely a little tricky. But it's the most realistic hitting mechanic we've seen yet. I've sometimes wondered how I can hit a homerun by swinging last minute at a 95mph fastball without a stride or anything..... Putting in a stride really makes it a little more realistic for the swing, and also when checking a swing!

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012 @ 12:30:17 PM

The Ugly: “Okay, that ball is doing weird things a little too often.”

I guess u saw the pitcher threw knucklers at u.

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Thursday, March 15, 2012 @ 9:11:16 AM


He's definitely right though. Foul tips literally rocket off your bat backwards as if you'd hit with the same power a homerun would give.

I've also had a weird play where the ball passed through a fielders glove, hit the bottom of the wall, then appear on the green hill at Arlington magically for a ground rule double..... crazy.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012 @ 2:53:19 PM

Hitting with move to me seems to be all guess work. If you wait for pitcher to release you'll more than likely not swing or be to late. I've actually had to swing before pitcher releases ball. Could be me I'm not a spring chicken anymore. If anybody else has had luck let me know. Also feilding is nightmare with the move. They should have had better tutorials with some voice over explaining the functions.

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Thursday, March 15, 2012 @ 9:13:42 AM

you're absolutely right about the tutorials. I spent the first bit not even understanding how the move wanted me to throw and in what direction. lol.

As for hitting, I haven't had too much trouble. If you want to keep the same difficulty but can't seem to swing through in time, you can adjust the sliders for pitch speed. The game will still record the pitches at the speed it's normally at, and it doesn't affect the physics at all, but you have more time to react.

Sliders are a great way to adjust things a bit without changing the core aspects of the game like difficulty.

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