The Show year after year cements itself as the baseball game to play for all baseball fans. Sony San Diego Studios set out to make MLB 12: The Show the most-authentic baseball game on the market, but does it end up as a ground rule double or a towering shot to the upper deck in left field with an unmatched presentation that will make you believe you right there at the ballpark eating a hot dog and crackerjacks…and I don’t care if I ever get back.
MLB 12: The Show is available on both the PlayStation 3 and on Sony’s new handheld the PlayStation Vita. The biggest addition this year is the ability to transfer save files between the two versions by uploading the files to the included Cloud service. Whether it is a franchise, season, or the fan favorite Road to the Show, you can pickup exactly where you left off, with a catch — no pun intended. Games that are saved in progress will not carry over however, so make sure you finish your current game before uploading. It’s also worth mentioning that you can upload only 1 file for each game mode, so when uploading a season it will replace whatever previously uploaded file existed.
Presentation is what makes a game feel real and MLB 12 is as accurate to an actual TV broadcast as I have ever seen. From the seamlessly endless camera angles used between each pitch, the ballpark has never felt so life-like. I couldn’t help but crack a smile as the bleachers in Yankee Stadium had role call at the top of the first inning. The crowd overall is much more vocal than the past versions and acts as the icing on the cake on bringing the ballparks to life. The star players look and behave just like their real life counterparts. The way they move between pitches and at the plate was recreated perfectly. The stadiums are full of life, with cheering fans and vendors walking up and down the aisles.
The Show supports both the PlayStation Move and 3D TVs, although not as you would think. The Move can be used from batting to pitching and fielding. While batting is cool with the Move due to the subtle movements of the Move controller that has the bat swaying along with you, pitching and fielding can be a bit hard to control correctly. The Show features SimulView where if 2 people are playing locally they will see completely different views of the game. Say a friend and yourself are playing: one person would see the game from the catcher perspective while batting, while the other one will see it from the pitchers perspective while pitching. It’s a neat little feature for those few that are able to support it.
Sony San Diego brings a new hitting and pitching option into the game while tweaking the already established methods from the series. The zone analog batting option combines the analog controls by using the right analog stick for the stride and swing with the left stick controlling where the swing will be. For those who aren’t brave enough to try the new method, there is still the standard zone, analog and timing options.
The newly added pulse pitching adds a bit of depth to the classic pitching style — now having a pulsating ring that determines the accuracy of the pitch. Timing the button press while the ring is small will lead to a more accurate pitch. Of course there is still the meter and the classic style, but I found that the new pulse pitching to be the best and fastest way to pitch.
Outside the standard game modes, Diamond Dynasty pits you in the role of building a team from scratch through in-game trading card packs. These packs are full of generic players that will make up the majority of your roster, but if you are lucky you can find a MLB player card, which acts as a rare card in the packs. The MLB players will only play 10 games however, so keep that in mind when placing them into your lineup. Packs are bought with coins earned from games played or bought on the PS Store using real currency. Cards can also be traded or sold to other players as you are up against every other team online. As with being a online mode, Diamond Dynasty’s success, or failure, will come down to the community.
The remaining game modes of Franchise, Season and Road to the Show stay mostly the same from last year’s outing, but do contain a few improvements. Expect to see smarter trades being made — organizations like the Yankees and Red Sox will go after star players by throwing butt loads of money at them, while smaller organizations make smarter personal trades to obtain the desired players. If you play RttS as a pitcher, you will now start as an AA starter to let you get more game time right away, instead of being thrown in the bullpen.
One of the best new additions is the newly improved ball physics. The first time the ball is put in play, it will be instantly noticeable how much more realistically it plays with less repeated paths through the infield and outfield. Expect to see the ball take random bounces off the pitchers mound, bases or slow down after rolling through the grass. Fly balls also no longer seem like they always find a glove this time around.
MLB 12: The Show tops last year’s game and continues The Show’s run as being the best baseball game on the market. With gameplay that is unbeatable, The Show provides a truly robust experience with improved game modes and the newly added Diamond Dynasty that will surely be a hit with the online community, but the lag during the online matches is a huge lose for those looking to play exclusively online. The Show is baseball, so if you are a fan, MLB 12 is a grand slam.Note: MLB 12: The Show was reviewed on PlayStation 3. A physical copy of the game provided by the publisher.