For the last few years I have been excited for opening day of baseball. I have been on this kick to want to watch more baseball and have started strong at the start of the last few baseball seasons but quickly dropped off. So with spring training done and the baseball season upon us again we of course of our annual baseball video game release. Today we are checking out the reigning baseball king and interested to see if the series continues to put space between the competitions or is The Show resting on its laurels?
Never heard of The Show series before? In brief I would consider it to be the best simulation of not only baseball but of any sports game right now. Most sports video games are really a slight variation of arcade/sim, but that is just not the case with this franchise. MLB 12: The Show even more so than any other sport game sticks to its sport with the greatest amount of detail and sophistication we have seen on this generation of consoles.
It would be no exaggeration to admit I played a ton of MLB 12: The Show over the last couple of weeks. But before I get into a lot of the new stuff that I like about MLB 12: The Show lets go over what I didn’t care for. One of the big features this year was the pulse pitching which I found to be atrocious. The basic premise is that a circle pulses open and shut and you want to time it so it’s the smallest possible giving you the most accuracy and velocity. Well I found the new mechanic to be unnerving. I literally felt my blood pressure rise with anger as game after game I would get lit up on the mount because the circle was just a little bigger than it should have been. Needless to say after I gave it the old college try for ten games or so I switched back to the old analog stick controls which I still find to be a great pitching mechanic.
The other not so great feature on MLB 12: The Show is the inclusion of full Playstation Move support. Last year all we got was the ability to use it for the Home Run derby but now it is for the entire baseball experience. The Move support is capable but it’s not all that fun. Playing nine innings on your feet isn’t optimal and there isn’t enough of a draw in MLB 12: The Show to play with your move for the current experience.
So onto the good stuff, MLB 12: The Show is still a great game of baseball. There have been some minor tweaks underneath the hood that make the experience even more lifelike then past games. I did find that games seemed to be lower scoring than in previous games especially with ace pitchers. I can remember last year lighting up Roy Halladay and this year I won a game against the Phillies 1-0. I’m not positive if this was a development change or not but I did have several outcomes that were along the same lines.
My big draw to the series has always been and continues to be the Road to the Show mode. For those unfamiliar it is a mode where you take a player through AA to the big league. Not much has changed in this year’s outing which is kind of a letdown. Sure it is still one of the best career modes out there but the mode is showing its age and is in need of substantial overhaul to get players coming back year over year.
The game has a ton of other modes to choose from including online play and a full-fledged franchise mode. There is still a plethora of content to be had and any baseball fan will have hours to sink their teeth into.
The series continues to push forward improving small areas of the visual aspects of the game. The one area I noticed that seemed to get an overhaul were player models which seem to be much more lifelike then in years past. The other area I really appreciated were the animation in the game which in replay could use work but in motion looks pretty good. The Show is still a solid looking game but leaves room for improvement for future outings. I for one would like to see the menus and the in game presentation to be a bit more streamlined then the somewhat archaic presentation that is used.
Having played a lot of The Show over the years I feel as though I am still in a good spot to say that although the series is a sim it’s still a great deal of fun to play. There is something ultra-gratifying about taking your created player and grinding through the dog days of summer and bringing them up to AAA and subsequently making your first start in the major leagues. Going back to my prior example of my 1-0 victory over Halladay and the Phillies it came at the bottom of the ninth with two outs and I as the Anaheim Angels nailed a one-run homer with Torri Hunter to win the game. I don’t think I have been that excited with sports games in a long time. And that was an exhibition game.
Last year I said that MLB 11 wasn’t a monumental step forward. I would say that MLB 12 is only a half-step forward for the series. Sure the competition within the genre is weak but that is still no excuse to leave much unchanged from last year’s version. MLB 12: The Show is a fantastic game of baseball there just isn’t enough new to make it an outright purchase recommendation.