Ah yes, it is Spring and baseball is back. It also means our annual gaming tradition of picking up the latest MLB The Show returns as well. Is this year’s edition a giant leap forward or simply babysteps for the franchise? Does it warrant a buy? Is it still the king of baseball titles?
MLB 12 The Show fits like an old pair of jeans. It’s comfortable, it’s consistent and you take it for granted when reviewing it. I’m cynical by nature and am always asking for more in my games. Many times, though, there isn’t much more developers can do with the current platform and titles. The Show might just be the highest peak in the baseball landscape until we see the next-gen of systems.
Graphically the game is sharper than ever. Lighting and weather is spot on, depth of field is immersive, and players of note truly look like their real life counterparts. Checklist-wise it’s all there. The one downside is that the ballparks could use some work. The stands, especially, could use better detail. I’m nit-picking, but that is why we do reviews. I want more. Sony does a fantastic job in making this game “look” like baseball but it seems like they may have maxed out what they can do on a current gen — and/or just applied console resources to other areas in need.
This is the one area where I can legitimately be negative. At one point Sony had created the best presentation of any baseball game — and frankly any sports game — to date. Sadly, so much time has passed and so little has been done that now The Show ranks somewhere in the sea of mediocrity. The booth is way too dry and I often find myself drifting off into space due to a lack of audio immersion. Again, not everything can be NBA 2K12 as it relates to conversation and excitement but as a baseball title announcers are required to jazz it up. The game needs a makeover here. This is one spot where the competition over at 2K have actually beaten The Show on the diamond.
The game plays a solid game of baseball. It feels “right” and true to the sport. Animations have been bolstered, player reactions add some nice flair and overall the physics of the ball are better than ever. Could that lead to a controller being hurled across the room on a misplayed tailing liner? Damn right. But that is what makes The Show so addicting. It plays razor sharp and has a very small margin of error. Fielding is a challenge. Hitting is a challenge. Pitching is a challenge. Are you catching on yet? Bottom line, you better be prepared to play the right way. Warm up pitchers, make substitutions, move runners over, take pitches. This isn’t Little League. This isn’t the arcade. Play like a goofball and the CPU will absolutely smoke you.
The one true innovation besides the improved physics is the Pulse Pitching feature. Full disclosure, its simply lipstick on a pig (so to speak). It’s just another way to pitch and is not some major improvement or groundbreaking advancement, if you like it use it. I don’t and have switched back to the meter style. Again, Sony seems to have been maxed out.
Game modes are mostly the same over previous years. Franchise mode is great, and some nice AI tweaks have taken place. Road to the Show has received some nice upgrades and now it presents a far more realistic experience for the player. Simply put, you actually have a chance now. Previous entries into this mode had, shall we say… flaws? Lets leave it there.
Sometimes it’s harder reviewing a game you love than one you hate. How many ways can you say you like something? Better yet, how many ways can you say you like the same things year after year?
The Show is fabulous as always and therein lies the issue. It’s the same game.
Again, it is a fantastic game and the closest thing we have to going out there and playing on the diamond. It’s just… the same thing we’ve grown comfortable with the past few years. Whether that lack of innovation is a deal breaker for you or not is really up to you.
For me, I’ll sink countless hours into MLB 12 The Show this summer. While I will want more, especially in the presentation department, the game is still the best of the best on the diamond and an absolute must buy if you love baseball.
This review is based on a copy of the game for the Playstation 3 sent to SideQuesting by the publisher. Images courtesy SCE.