If there’s one sport that isn’t like all the rest, it’s got to be baseball. Both loved and hated, baseball is arguably the most polarizing sport out there. However, there’s no denying the solid fanbase that would die for this slower paced game of athletic strategy. Surely not all baseball fans play video games, but those that do, love a good baseball simulator. The fact of the matter is that Sony’s MLB: The Show is a series that dedicates itself to simulate a realistic sporting experience for those wanting to play some ball on their TV screen rather than outside in the scorching sun! With it being the first to not see a PlayStation 2 or PlayStation Portable version, only launching on the PlayStation 3 and the new PlayStation Vita, there was certainly a lot of hype surrounding the latest installment. So how does MLB 12: The Show hold up compared to its predecessors? Well to put things in context, it’s a home run.
As a baseball sim, it’s important for The Show to capture the strategic intensity and challenge that comes with batting and pitching during a game. As always, MLB 12 offers this experience tenfold, only this time with even more gameplay options than you were previously presented with. Not only are there new control types, like Zone Analog batting and Pulse pitching, but MLB 12 has full PlayStation Move support this time around, rather than having it exclusive to the Home Run Derby mode like last year’s release. With all these gameplay options, there’s no doubt there will be a mode that fits your play style, whether you want to be challenged or not.
"MLB 12: The Show offers the most realistic, authentic, and diverse baseball simulation experience to date."
As far as pitching goes, you will have your standard control types to play with, but new to The Show in MLB 12 is Pulse pitching. With this mode, you will have a shrinking and enlarging, or "pulsing" circle in the pitching area. The idea is to move the pulsing circle to the desired position, and attempt to throw it when the circle is at its smallest. By doing this, you will have more power and accuracy depending on how small the circle is. Pulse pitching is quick and simple, yet offers a nice bit of strategy to how you play the game.
For batting, the showcased mode this time around is Zone Analog batting. All players need to be aware that this batting type is not for the faint of heart, which is why it is one of the nicest additions to the game. Basically, the left analog stick controls where in the batter’s box you swing, and the right analog stick controls the power and motion of your stride. This control scheme offers a whole new level of challenge and strategy for players who are looking for it. Personally, I stuck to standard analog controls simply because I preferred a smoother experience. Once again, this is where MLB 12 excels. The variety in control schemes ensures that no player will be left taking a seat on the bench. There is truly an option here for everyone to enjoy, whether you’re looking for challenge, strategy, simplicity, or all of those things combined.
Every year, The Show is sure to give us players a nice variety of game modes to test our ball skills with. Alongside your favorite classics like Franchise and Road to the Show, the Diamond Dynasty mode is new to the franchise this year. In Diamond Dynasty, players build and manage a team of players by using collectible cards within the game. You have the option of trading, selling, and earning more cards to build that dream team you’ve been wanting. You’ll want to put together a nice group of players, seeing as your opponents will be playing against you online. The bad thing is that online play doesn’t always flow right. Many times there would be a noticeable and annoying lag. Despite this issue, Diamond Dynasty is an enjoyable addition to The Show. However, it doesn’t hold up compared to Road to the Show, which unfortunately is beginning to show a bit of age. If Sony is looking to spice things up in the game mode department, Diamond Dynasty is honestly not the solution to this problem. If you need a break from Road to the Show, Home Run Derby is still available for some quick fun. Besides, who doesn’t like continuously hitting home runs?
As expected, MLB 12: The Show has no trouble hitting it out of the ballpark when it comes to its visuals and presentation. Everything from player detail, stadium design, to the animations all look as crisp and fluid as ever. Camera angles will beautifully focus on different areas of the park depending on how and where you hit the ball, which attributes largely to the feeling of watching a real live ball game. Ball physics also have a wider variety of ways to react to the environment. Small touches such as bouncing off bases, and even a lack of that generic "ball arc" make plays seem almost as natural as they would be during an actual game. Player animations, while not perfect, also complement this experience to a great degree. This time around, you will notice a more significant amount of movements from fielders reacting to the play currently taking place. However, the impressive reactions aren’t only limited to players out on the field. I particularly had a fun time watching audience members scramble over each other, trying to catch one of my home runs!
For the most part, the audio in MLB 12: The Show just adds to this realistic baseball experience. Audience members cheer a certain way according to how the game is going, and the different sounds of a ball hitting your bat is as diverse as it ever was. Although these elements are absolutely fine, there’s a certain flaw with the commentary team. Not only does the dialogue of these commentators sound repetitive and not quite fluid enough, but there are times when they would be flat out wrong about the occurrences of the game. To be specific, I remember a CPU player hitting a strike while the commentators claimed it was a ball. These false statements don’t happen too much, but it’s often enough to be noticeable.
One heavily encouraged feature of this installment is the addition of cross play with your PlayStation Vita. The idea is to upload a file to the cloud from your Franchise or Road to the Show saves on your PS3, and be able to continue playing on your PS Vita. While this is certainly a sweet feature, the problem is that you will need two copies of the game, one for each system. So does this warrant two purchases? Unless you have an undeniable need to play The Show both at home and on the go, you’re better off not taking a double dip into your bank account. However, this is definitely a feature worth enjoying if you do in fact own the game on both platforms.
If you love baseball, it’s a no brainer. MLB 12: The Show offers the most realistic, authentic, and diverse baseball simulation experience to date. Sony continues to impress and satisfy those who can’t get enough of this beloved pastime. While flaws such as rough commentating, arguably dated game types, and laggy online play are definitely to be noted, it can be hard to complain when you’ve got an incredibly diverse variety of batting and pitching options, realistic visual presentation, and enough gameplay modes to tide you over all the way until next baseball season.
Release date : 2012-03-06
Publisher : SCEA
Developer : SCEA
Gameplay : Sports
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