Is this the right channel?
Some are already calling MLB 12: The Show the best baseball game to hit the gaming world. Some are still reserving judgment. For others, it’s just another MLB game. Indeed, there are two ways to look at it. For people who are baseball fanatics and want authentic representation of the sport, this is a hit. But for those who are only sub-par interested in playing, this is a sacrifice bunt. There just isn’t much about MLB 12: The Show that screams “This is a classic. You won’t ever forget this one!”
The actual content of MLB 12: The Show all goes far beyond anyone’s expectations. Past installments have had many of the same features, but this year seems to cut out all of the stops. How many times have you seen a menu have its own menu? Playing selections are out of this world. If you don’t have time to sit down and thoroughly play, don’t even waste your time. For those with time, you can test out your skills in just about every mode possible: homerun derby, franchise, challenge of the week, exhibition, and season mode—just to name a few.
A new feature, copying homework from EA Sports’ notebook, is Diamond Dynasty. Like EA’s Ultimate Team, Diamond Dynasty is an online mode that allows you to create a completely custom team using earned trading card packs. Much like the real situations in baseball, Dynasty mode allows for the perspective of a manager or GM and helps players establish the importance of their team.
SCE wanted to have all aspects of MLB 12: The Show as realistic as possible. No expenses were spared for this one and it shows. From player’s physics to crowd reactions and ball rotation, movement is remarkably smooth. You can even see the laces on the ball spinning as you knock it out of the park. Catchers and pitchers react swiftly and accurately to fly and fouled balls.
You can also play and watch all of this action in 3D if you have a compatible television. But it doesn’t stop at 3D, as Simulview is available as well. While playing against a buddy, you can see the action from the batter's perspective while the other player gets a view from a pitching position. It gives some flair to head-to-head competition.
Not only is it about the physical gameplay, but also a whole lot of strategical influences is present. Don’t think you can just walk up to the plate and send pitches out of the park every time. Even getting simple base hits can be tough. You must show patience and understanding of the pitcher’s tendencies. In-game, there are a few strategic features such as “pitch guess”. When you’re at bat and feel the pitcher is performing some of the same throws, you can begin to guess what he’s going to throw next. Using this to your advantage can pay off major, but guess wrong and you're back to the dugout early.
Strategy goes the same for defense as well. If you custom-align your team perfectly, the batting team won't ever be able to hit line drives on you at bat. A great defense starts with pitching and the more accurate you are with pitches, the better off your team will be.
In addition, a new pitching scheme has been added. Those familiar with past editions of MLB: The Show will know that the pitch meter has been a constant fixture, but now it’s "pulse pitching". Timing is still key—the smaller you catch the circle as it's pulsing, the better the pitch.
Unlike NFL Madden, MLB 12: The Show has plenty of competition to keep it on its toes. Franchised titles such as MLB 2K continue to give it a run for its money. There are plenty of differences in each title to split fans up, but what helps The Show stand out is its attention to detail. Almost everything you would want to tweak and have control over when playing a sports simulator is available for adjustment here. There is even a Vita version that’s capable of transferring saved games to and from the Playstation 3.
With everything so well-polished, there seems to be little room for improvement. This is an incorrect assumption, for there is no lasting effect. Sure, there are some trademark features and use of technology advancements (3D capable), but MLB 12: The Show doesn't draw in fresh crowds and can alienate new users and non-baseball experts. Much of the gameplay variety has a gimmicky nature, changes that likely won't be sustained in MLB 13: The Show. It sort of throws various modes at you and hopes that one sticks.
With all of the playable content, realistic physics, faster gameplay, after SCE San Diego Studio has gone through everything with a fine-toothed comb, MLB 12: The Show just doesn’t quite turn heads like it should. This is definitely made for those who understand baseball—those who know when they want their ace at the backstop, ready to stop the slugger from shooting the gap or getting a tater, using an Uncle Charlie to keep away from his wheelhouse. The Show, through and through, is a fun baseball game to play with buddies but won’t keep the average fan playing. It’s a coin toss to which MLB title to get.