Leading off for PS Vita, The Show looks to continue its console success on the handheld market to cement 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 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.
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.
On the Vita version, the pulse pitching style does not seem as accurate as the PS3 version. There is a slight delay when the “X” button is pressed to stop the ring from pulsating. This results in more inaccurate pitches as it keeps moving after the button is already pressed. I had to turn pulse pitching off and use the classic setting.
The standard game modes of Franchise, Season & Road to the Show stay mostly the same from last years 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 are 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. While pitching you are able to utilize touch controls to place your pitches exactly where you want them as well as swiping the rear touchpad to attempt a pickoff or steal a base. The new Diamond Dynasty mode is sadly not included in the Vita version, so it is disappointing that you won’t be able to trade cards anywhere over WiFi or 3G.
Trying to squeeze everything that the PS3 version has was an arduous task for Sony San Diego, but they were able to “vitamize” MLB 12 The Show to produce a trimmed down solid experience. Presentation is not even comparable in the two versions: the commentary takes a major cut, after each pitch it resets everything to be ready for the next and most of the crowd noise has been dialed back. All of this helps to speed up the game, which is perfectly suited for the handheld on-the-go experience. It is disappointing though that dugouts are empty and the first few rows in the crowd are atrocious. There is the occasional slow down when a batter comes up to the plate or when everything is standing at the mound on a visit from the pitching coach.
MLB 12: The Show is almost the same game as on the consoles, but with less polish and presentation. The touch controls are a nice addition. With gameplay that is unbeatable, MLB 12: The Show provides a truly robust experience with improved game modes touch controls that are a nice addition. The online games are a mixed bag, as I experienced a certain amount of lag in most of them. The Show is baseball, so if you are a fan, MLB 12 is a grand slam.Note: MLB 12: The Show (Vita) was reviewed on PlayStation Vita. A physical copy of the game was provided by the publisher/developer.