Just in time for Spring Training, Sony has released the latest version of their popular and widely acclaimed baseball franchise. Does MLB 12: The Show hit an inside the park home-run, or does it fail to steal second base?
This latest iteration is packed full of new features among them the addition of cross-platform play with the recently released PlayStation Vita and users will be able to share saves across either platform. While it was nice for Sony to recently offer a 50% discount on the PlayStation Vita version if the buyer has already purchased the PS3 one I just don’t see anyone purchasing two copies unless they use their Vita as much or more than their PS3. One of the biggest additions to last year’s iteration was the Pure Analog Control System; which makes a return though it boasts several improvements and has been revamped. The right analog stick, like last year, functions as the swinging mechanism, however the left stick controls where in the zone the player wants to swing. To be honest, I’m not really a fan of this feature, and I haven’t been, since it has been essentially rehashed in every sports title over the last decade. To be fair, the added ability to pinpoint the zone using the left analog stick is a nice addition, but frankly I prefer the standard controls.
MLB: The Show has always been known for its fantastic production values, and MLB 12: The Show is no different. MLB 12: The Show features some of the most detailed character models and environments of any sports game. Batting and pitching releases are mimicked realistically, which helps immerse the player, believing they are actually playing as their favorite player or franchise. The PlayStation Vita version translates a PS3-like experience admirably, though it’s not free of issues. Some of the textures, particularly the stadiums can be lower resolution then most people would like. There are also several hiccups during innings, or particular animations, such as walking the batter. On the bright side animations are surprisingly life-like, and in comparison to the PS3 version, don’t really miss a beat. It’s important to note that none of the presentation issues were present in the PS3 version. Littered in the tons of improvements and additional features is True Ball Physics. In this year’s title, True Ball Physics (PS3 and PlayStation Vita) incorporates more realistic ball physics and proper spin for balls that interact with the objects in the stadium. While this addition seems prominent in the PS3 version the same can’t be said for the Vita counterpart. In certain instances on the Vita version the ball physics would act wonky, and certainly not as realistic as the PS3 iteration. Despite some of these issues, it still looks and plays very well on the PlayStation Vita.
In addition to the added flexibility within the analog controls, MLB 12: The Show offers over 100 new batting stances, hundreds of new presentation animations, improved load times, uniforms in each mode, and a plethora of other improvements. Most notably though is the overall improvement to the online portion of the title. Sony San Diego has done a much better job of unifying both the standard options and multiplayer, similar to what you now see in the Madden series. While it’s not as nearly connected as Madden, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
Like last year, some of the same issues can still be leveled at MLB 12: The Show. For instance, crowds are still somewhat static in comparison to how realistic and fluid everything else is. This seems to be an ongoing issue with the sports genre in general; however it is still worth mentioning. The other issue is in regards to the main menu and default options. Like last year, some of the menus are still a bit more unintuitive then players are newcomers would like. There are also some issues in the options of the PlayStation Vita version. Usually by default after you change an option it will automatically save, but this isn’t the case. You can’t just leave the menu and automatically save the options, but rather have to confirm the option before you leave, which just comes off as unintuitive.
After the initial issues with performance on the PS Vita, low resolution textures, and some perplexing decisions on the menu it was hard to find any faults in MLB 12: The Show. It has fantastic stadium ambience, improved analog controls, and a host of other positive additions despite some of the missteps.
MLB 12: The Show represents a good step forward in the franchise, and with the additional of a good port to the PlayStation Vita, there are a lot of different choices and gameplay options available for fans of the franchise.
For more information on how we review games check out our criteria here. A copy of this game was provided to The Paranoid Gamer by the publisher for review purposes. If you have any questions about this title the reviewer will be able to answer them in the comment section.