MLB 12: The Show Review

By Cash Hartzell - Posted Mar 14, 2012

MLB The Show 12 continues the tradition of excellence in this installment of the yearly title. Beautifully realistic parks, Vita integration, and a myriad of control options expand on what was already the leading MLB experience.

The Pros
  • Baseball season is starting.
  • Vita integration is stroke of genius.
  • Still the one to beat as a MLB franchise.
The Cons
  • Steep learning curve for controls.
  • Eric Karros is the worst.
  • That thing in the outfield at Marlins Stadium.

MLB 12: The Show Review:

The yearly release of The Show and MLB 2K is a little holiday between the big holidays of pitchers and catchers reporting and opening day. It means I get to get my hands on the teams reporting to Arizona or Florida and shake them out. I get to look the rookies up and down and see if the old timers can still make contact. It lets me know that the season is just around the corner. When I pulled the plastic off SECA San Diego's MLB 12: The Show, I could almost smell the freshly cut grass and hear the crack of the bats. It's the best time of year.

MLB 12: The Show

“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”  – Rogers Hornsby

One of the reasons that I love the annual release of the baseball video games so much is the chance to -- after a long winter off -- dive deep into the atmosphere of a beautifully rendered baseball tableau. 

In the Show, this is done perfectly. Every tiny bit feels realistic: from a very animated batting coach who silently explains hitting to the create-a-character system in the new pre-game batting practice mode, to a pitcher putting on his jacket to run the bases in a night game, to that ugly, awful neon dolphin monstrosity past the center field fences in the new Marlins Park, to the crowd rising as one to scream at an ump over an inning-ending called third strike. If you want a great looking authentic feeling baseball experience, the Show is for you. 

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“Hitting is timing. Pitching is upsetting timing.”  – Warren Spahn

Baseball games have plateaued the way other sports games have recently however, and The Show is no different. The baseball simulation is solid now and most of the recent game play improvements have been control options. Last year saw the introduction of fully analog hitting, pitching, and fielding as well as limited Move integration. This year brings full Move integration across all facets of game play as well as a new rhythm based style of “pulse pitching." 

Frankly, pulse pitching gave me a throbbing headache two innings into a game, but custom control sets make it easy to pick which pitching or batting control options work for you, whether they be Move, analog, pulse pitching or good old meter style. I personally use the old school meter style for my pitching, and analog for my batting. As for fielding, nothing captures the beauty of a well-turned 6-4-3 double play like two quick graceful swipes with the right analog stick.  

MLB 12: The Show

All is not perfect in The Show, however. The controls, especially analog pitching and pulse pitching can require a little too much time to master before you can move up to a more advanced level. And for some reason SECA San Diego has decided to pile on top of Fox Broadcasting's mistake by brining back Eric Karros to do commentary; I’m sure there’s some sort of “Stupid Thing To Say” contest that he could be using that time to compete in instead. 

Also, no matter how many interesting facts and numbers SECA San Diego make the less objectionable Matt Vasgersian and Dave Campbell record, until they come up with 3000 interesting ways to say “he fouls it back and out of play,” the play by play commentary is going to get real old early in the season.

MLB 12: The Show

"Jackie [Robinson] told me the only way to be successful at anything was to go out and do it. He said baseball was a game you played every day, not once a week." -- Hank Aaron

The real breakthrough this year is the way The Show shares your season data and saves with the newly released PlayStation Vita and the Vita version of the game. Baseball is a long season, at a minimum 162 games, more for those who make the post-season. I play these baseball titles along with the season, often listening to my team's broadcast on the radio while using the live updated rosters to play that same game on my TV. 

Being able to bring my season along with me on planes, during my commute, or even to an actual game brings the Show from a pastime at home to a full on baseball obsession. Not to mention the fact this is the best success of a handheld system playing the same game as a console, a gaming dream since the days of the TurboGrafx 16 and the TurboExpress.  Having to shell out for the game on each system is no picnic, but for hardcore baseball fans, Vita integration and the ability to take your season everywhere is a must. 

A great returning feature is the RPG-esque Road to the Show that has you creating a character and use the AA and AAA leagues to level up stats and get you to the big leagues. RttS is great for baseball fans as real knowledge of the game is rewarded. Playing as a shortstop, it behooves me to be aware of the game because the man on first might be running on a 3-2 count, a bunt play could be on or I might need to cover 2nd to turn the double play. The devotion to “heads up” baseball and rewarding good mental preparedness is a testament to how seriously SECA San Diego takes the responsibly of making a solid baseball game.

MLB 12: The Show

“Nobody ever said, "Work ball!" They say, "Play ball!" To me, that means having fun.”  – Willie Stargell 

All in all, despite a steep learning curve for controls and the inclusion of Eric “Would Drive Dirt to Suicide” Karros in the broadcast booth, MLB The Show 2012 keeps up the standard they have set as the leading MLB francise. And with the great Vita season sharing option, SECA San Diego has taken this franchise from a good game to a must for any baseball fan.

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