MLB 12: The Show (PS3 Version) Review

MLB 12: The Show (Available for PlayStation 3, and PlayStation Vita)
ESRB Rating: E
Players: 1-8
Genre: Sports
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: SCEA San Diego Studios
Release Date: March 6, 2012
PSN: Online multiplayer
PlayStation Move support

Parent Talk: Like most baseballs sims, MLB 12 is rated E for everyone. Outside of strong song lyrics, there’s nothing to harm your young ones. Online play is a different story obviously, so don’t let them venture there.

Plays Like: Other current-gen baseball games.

Review Basis: Tried the different modes, and compared them to last year’s game.

I’ve reviewed Sony’s MLB franchise since 2006, and it continues to improve. 12 is no exception. If you love baseball, you’ll love MLB 12. The line between a real broadcast and playing this series is becoming ever-thinner. In essence, we’ve almost reached the uncanny valley.

The Great:

Road to the Show remains one of the best career modes in any sports game.  This time you begin as a AA starter, so you’re important from day one.  You still work up the ranks by staying productive, playing intelligently and overcoming objectives to make it to the big leagues.

The Good:

+ Welcome changes to pitching. A new pulse circle system appears after selecting your pitch.  Gone is the old pitch meter.  The new concept works as it sounds; a circle pulses in and out. The smaller the circle is, the more accurate your pitch is.

+ New batting. As a result of the redone pitching, players can adjust where to focus their bat in the strike zone with the left analog stick. It takes practice, and timing your swing is as crucial as ever.

+ Diamond Dynasty shows promise. Online, you customize a team of real-world and fictitious players based on trading card packs you unlock. Cards can be sold or traded with other players. Your performance is rewarded based on who you play and the difficulty level. Do well and receive a cash bonus. The object is to improve your overall standing become the best of the best.

+ PlayStation Move support. It appears in every mode, allowing you to enjoy the action from an all-new perspective. Batting works as it did last year, where you guess where the ball is going to come from and swing away. For pitching, you select a throw, hold the Move controller as though you were going to throw the ball, and use the old pitch meter for accuracy. It sounds like a lot to manage, but both work great.

+ Matt Vasgersian, Dave Campbell, and Eric Karros. The trio returns to commentate, and do excellently in calling the right plays. Their chemistry is occasionally questionable, but overall they’re entertaining.

+ A home run presentation. Player animations are the best of MLB. They slide into bases with such realism that you may think you’re watching a game. Dynamic camera cuts show fan reactions, other players, and more. The ball physics are much-improved too.

+ Interesting SimulView 3D HDTV support.  One player sees the batting perspective, and the other the pitcher’s. It’s a very cool addition.

+ PlayStation Vita support. Your PS3 game file can be saved to the cloud and continued on your Vita, and vice-versa. It’s neat, but requires copies of the game for each platform.

The So-So:

+/- Fielding and base running. They don’t work as well with the Move controller. The former requires precise timing of the trigger, and running requires a specific position for your body. Both feel cumbersome.

The Bad:

– Net code. It continues to be a problem, strangely. It’s been a series staple for years. Some matches run perfectly, while others are lag fests.

The Ugly:

Practice makes perfect. Casual fans will be shocked by how deep this game can be. Even with Move support, this is NOT Wii Sports. It requires time and devotion to master.

The Lowdown:

MLB 12: The Show continues Sony’s run of providing superb-looking, fun-to-play baseball. Sign right up for one of the richest and most rewarded baseball sims out there. I just caution those who may be newcomers; baseball is a complex sport, but stick with it and you’ll be rewarded. Don’t be discouraged if even Rookie difficulty troubles you. It’s expected.

Average Score Scale: 8.0 (+/- 0.5) out of 10

Personal Final Score: 8.5/10 (Inflated)

Reason for +0.5 Inflation: You appreciate the gameplay content, Move support, and love baseball.

Reason for -0.5 Deflation: You won’t settle for less than stellar online play.