MLB 12: The Show – Review

Platform | Release Date
PS3, Vita | March 6, 2012
Developed by SCE San Diego Studio
Published by Sony Computer Entertainment

The Pitch:

MLB 12 The Show is the latest release in a franchise has been the highest rated sports video game for the past 4 years. The Show enables consumers to immerse themselves in exhilarating baseball moments by delivering true-to-life gameplay, authentic franchise and season modes, and incredible detail not found in any other sports game. MLB 12 The Show builds on what has been delivered in previous franchise releases adding compelling features that bring unparalleled innovation and polish to the sports genre.

*EDITOR’S NOTE: This review will reflect both the PS3 and PS Vita versions of the game, as well as the interaction between those versions.

In 2008 I went to my local Gamestop and purchased the red God of War PSP bundle. The game I purchased alongside the PSP was MLB 08: The Show. Fast forward a few years into the future to me being an early Playstation Vita adopter and one of the first games I purchase is MLB 12: The Show. The big draw, cross-platform play, allows owners of both the PS3 and Vita versions to essentially pick up where they left off on either platform. Does Sony hit a homerun, or strike out with the bases loaded?

I am a die hard fan of the St. Louis Cardinals. They won the World Series last year and promptly let one of the best players ever to play the game walk away – Albert Pujols. I felt less cheated when I was drafted as a starting pitcher by the Los Angeles Angels AA team, the Arkansas Travelers in my Road to The Show (RtTS) career. My reunion with Pujols was almost complete after going 14-6 in 166.1 IP, 178K’s with a 3.19 ERA… until I was traded to the Atlanta Braves AA squad, the Mississippi Braves. Shortly thereafter I was promoted to the big league team and gradually became an ace alongside Tommy Hanson. We never made it to the World Series, though the journey there was definitely worthwhile.

The RtTS play mode allows you to take control of one player and simulate his role in every game. For a batter, you will hit and field throughout each game of a season and occasionally get benched or be relieved for a defensive replacement depending on how you are performing. For a starting pitcher, you will pitch every five days or so and expect to eat up as many innings as possible. You don’t even see your own team bat unless you are in a National League park and hit yourself. Relief pitchers can play in a few games in a row for one out or multiple innings in a row– all depending on the availability of other players and your effectiveness.

Having just your characters actions played out shortens the length of time you are required to play games, especially for pitchers. These bite sized chunks make continuing my saved game on the PS Vita very convenient. I can usually fit in two full games and a training session during lunch at work which gives you a sense of accomplishment during a 162 game season. This is especially useful when unable to pry others away from your HDTV to play the PS3 version or when on the go.

The Cross Platform Save feature applies only to single player games and cannot be done mid-game regardless of what Sony’s latest commercial may show you. While this may seem like a detriment to the overall experience, the Vita games have a quicker pace and I did not see any issues past the initial Online Pass code entry on both systems. There have been reports of consumers early on activating an Online Pass for the Vita and having it enabled the PS3 multiplayer instead and vice-versa. I did not experience any of that since I had both versions available.

Exclusive to the PS3 version, Sony has upped the ante with their True Broadcast Presentations. Camera views that mimic television broadcasted games are as life-life as I have seen. It immersed me into the game effectively yet I do not see why they couldn’t have been included in the Vita release. The Vita’s experience seems much more condensed presentation wise but the option to enable True Broadcast Presentations would have been a big plus.

There is one frustrating aspect of The Show that I cannot overlook though. Throughout your progress in your RtTS season you have the ability to train your skills whether it is your physical abilities or something as focused a fastball control rating. I made a point to train my pitcher as high as possible in control: I like to hit the corners a lot. My four seam fastball with a control rating of 99 consistently missed its target, sometimes by ridiculous amounts in the periodic training sessions available to you as you progress through the season. This was less obvious in-game but was painfully obvious after failing so often at pitch location training sessions. Definitely something that needs to be improved next year.

Last years release had Playstation Move support exclusively in the Home Run Derby play mode. This year it is available in all modes and while it does a good job of representing the motions of baseball players, I did not find it as consistent as I would have liked and abandoned it completely early on. After having shoulder reconstructive surgery last year, the last thing I was interested in doing was mimicking a throwing motion for a video game for any extended time period. Results may vary.

MLB 12: The Show for PS3 and PS Vita feels very much like a single baseball platform that scales depending on which device you played it on. Because of this, the PS3 version may be handcuffing its true potential in favor cross platform interoperability. The accessibility of this feature may be enough to overlook this shortcoming to many however, including myself. While there is plenty of room for advancement in the genre, it is the best portable baseball series available today and is not one to be missed for fans of the series or sports in general.

Editors Note:
Until April 10th, purchasers of either MLB 12:The Show for PS3 or Vita will receive a $20.00 coupon (check your retailer) towards the purchase of the version you didn’t buy yet. Get the Vita version? Awesome, here is your $20.00 coupon. I can personally vouch for Amazon’s participation, but here is Sony’s official announcement is here.

About @artayd2

@artayd2 can be found traversing hills of toddler entrails while searching for the last pint of unicorn blood to quench his ever present thirst.
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