MLB 12: The Show PS3 Review: Is it Still the Champion of Baseball Sims?
Publisher: Sony Entertainment
Developer: SCE Studios San Diego
Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita
Release Date: March 6, 2012
ESRB: E – Everyone
MLB The Show has been the king of baseball sims for the past few years, and rightfully so. It offers up the deepest and most realistic baseball experience you will find. This all remains true for the 2012 edition, but you also can’t help feeling that the series is resting on its laurels a bit. There doesn’t seem to be much of an update other than the roster, but there are some subtle updates to the gameplay and the all new Diamond Dynasty online mode might make the game worth your while.
MLB 12 offers all the modes that you come expect in the series, like exhibition, Road to the Show, franchise, and season. Road to the Show is virtually unchanged from previous games, but creating a player and following his career remains to be a deep and enjoyable experience. Franchise mode also hasn’t received any updates, but it’s still a feature packed mode that makes you feel like you are legitimately running your own team.
While the modes have not evolved much, there are some gameplay changes. The most notable change being the pulse pitching system. When you pitch the ball you will choose and place your pitch like usual, but before you throw there is a circle that gets bigger and smaller. If you time a button press when the circle is at its smallest it increases the accuracy of the pitch. This system adds a bit of extra skill and variation to each of your pitches.
Another new gameplay feature involves the new ball rotation physics. This allows the ball to act more realistically while it bounces or is in the air. With this system, the ball will not go perfectly straight when it comes off the bat, and it adds a little variety to how the game plays out. This should have been a subtle change to the gameplay, but it is very noticeable in some bad ways. It seems as if the developers turned up the physics to exaggerated levels. This results in balls curving unrealistically for fouls, and taking bounces off the ground that you would never see in a real game. This is not just an occasional occurrence as it seemed like it happened with the majority of balls put into play. I respect the developer’s attempt to spice up the gameplay, but the execution was far from perfect. Hopefully they turn the physics down a bit next year.
Aside from the new additions, the other gameplay, specifically batting and fielding, is on par with last years addition. When batting you have the choice of classic controls and pure analogue. Classic controls have you pressing different buttons for lighter and stronger swings. Pure analogue allows you to use the right anologue stick to have more precise control. Pulling the right stick back puts you into stride to hit, and pushing the stick forward allows to swing. I’m not particularly a fan of the pure analogue, because it doesn’t seem to have the responsiveness of the classic controls. The fielding in MLB 12 has many of the issues that you might expect. The game automatically puts you in control of a player when the ball is in play, and often times I feel it chooses the wrong player that has less of an opportunity of fielding the ball. The new ball rotation physics also makes the fielding a little more difficult because the ball usually doesn’t move as realistically as it should, resulting in some frustrating plays.
Visually MLB 12 can be a stunner, where at a glance you feel as if you are watching a real game. Presentation is top notch in most areas, specifically where the game looks like a legitimate TV broadcast. One issue that has always plagued the series is the attention to certain details. Unless you’re seeing Albert Pujols or Alex Rodriguez, the faces of the players generally look bad, and the crowds look terrible. These are not new problems to the series or sports games in general, but I wish they could get it right for a change.
Things take a turn for the worse when it comes to the sound presentation. The commentating has never been a strong point in the series, but never has it been this abysmal. There is way too much repeating dialogue, and what commentary is available is poorly delivered. The soundtrack that can be found throughout the game is also not very good, but it’s never offensively bad in any way.
The most meaningful edition to MLB 12 is its new online mode called Diamond Dynasty. It basically allows you to build a very personalized team to take on other competitors online. To build a team you earn baseball cards in the main game, and the cards can be of real or created characters. You can trade these cards with other people online, and draft players. The mode could be compared to the Ultimate Team mode found in many EA sports games, except you are not required to put down actual money obtain players cards. You actually have to play the mode for a long period of time to build a team that is a legitimate contender, similarly to how a franchise might build itself up in real life. When you are playing this mode you actually feel as if you could run a team yourself, and while that’s most likely not true, it’s a cool feeling.
MLB The Show is still the best baseball sim on the market, even if it seems potentially close to stagnating. The game doesn’t offer up much of anything new for the player, but what is new may appeal to the diehard fans. The new pulse pitching system is a definite improvement on the pitching, and the Diamond Dynasty mode is fully featured and a lot of fun. MLB 12 didn’t succeed with its attempts of tweaking the ball physics, and will most likely be an issue for those who played the previous games. Even with this issue, if you are baseball fan looking for a baseball sim, this is the game for you.
+Returning modes are deep and still very enjoyable
+New pulse pitching system adds welcomed variety to gameplay
+Diamond Dynasty online mode makes you feel as if you are running a real life team
-The tweaks to the ball rotation physics
-The poorly delivered repeating commentary