Baseball season is about to begin so it can only mean one thing, time to get the gloves ready for some MLB gaming as MLB 12: The Show is set to hit the field. Unlike previous years, they decided to opt out of creating PS2 or PSP versions and focus on the new Playstation Vita version and the Playstation 3 version. Does the added focus lead to a better product or does this sinker turn into a stinker?
MLB 12: The Show has managed to reign supreme over their competitors this generation with their graphics and ‘true to the game’ nature and widely acclaimed controls and realism. MLB 12: The Show looks to be no different with improved graphics that will have you question if you are watching a game or playing half the time given the new camera angles that have been implemented along with new audio to provide a ‘True Broadcast’ presentation. The commentary has also been improved and is oftentimes helpful and talks about players hot or cold streaks at times. The controls have been made so analogmovement is no longer default and players have the option to choose it from the settings. For those who enjoy the analog control though, they have a new option called, ‘Zone Plus Analog Batting’ which allows you to control both left and right sticks for batting. Also new on the pitching front is ‘Pulse Pitching’ which brings up a meter for accuracy now as well as velocity. MLB 12: The Show now fully utilizes the Playstation Move controller throughout the game, not only in home run derby. The franchise mode depth has been reworked with smarter lineup and player logic giving players more realistic skill sets. The trading system has also been retooled to include more realistic trades during the season. Player cards have also been utilized for easier access to statistics with just a press of the button. New bullpen management now allows pitchers to toss the ball around, warm up or keep them at a steady rate so they stay warmed up for longer. It allows your planning and skillful implementation of relievers in those tough games. One more great addition to the long line of improvements MLB 12: The Show manages to put out every year is new ball physics which will give the player new angles of the ball during the pitch as well as more varied types of hits.
‘Road To The Show’ as always is a solid part of the title, and this year is no different. Adding to the already deep structure and advancement of the mode. Players will begin their RTTS as a Double A starter and work their way up the first few years to AAA then eventually to the MLB level depending on their performance. Training, as always, plays a key role to raise abilities and work on key attributes like contact and baserunning abilities. There are five different training sessions that will occur periodically during the season (roughly every two weeks) and some can be a pain to playthrough due to their increasing difficulty curve as you progress.
Players will also have the choice to play season mode for a single season without all the hassle of owning a franchise. Exhibition and home run derby return but it seems a major focus this year is the online mode. For the first time in the series the title requires an online pass, this is sadly a crutch considering how much the game expands once you are able to go online. The online mode now features an ‘online everywhere’ feature where you can simply start a match from the main menu at any time, join a league from the community menu, join a home run derby online or exhibition match from their corresponding menu. The focus was to streamline things for players who want to hop online on the fly with their friends. ‘Play Now Plus’ is a refined play now mode for online that allows players to fine tune their search options from batting, innings and other settings. Players can now play with their friends in co-op season, rivalry or in a franchise with up to four players. One of the key new online features is a mode that we personally feel should have been a no-brainer for an MLB title, ‘Diamond Dynasty’. In a nutshell, it takes the concept of other sports titles, Ultimate Team, and brings it to baseball. Players will get a group of randomly generated players with unique stats and the ability to purchase MLB player cards with in-game currency. The mode has plenty of customization options as you take your team through a massive online franchise against other players and AI teams to earn more currency to increase your own teams standings. Players can customize players, team name, uniforms and team logo with up to a thousand (1000) layers. Every fifth game played (online or off) your team is re-evaluated and placed into one of five divisions; Spring Training, Season Series, Division Series, Championship Series, and World Series. The depth of the Diamond Dynasty is immense and requires great dedication for MLB fans to get anywhere but is a long deserved supplement for the already great MLB: The Show franchise.
MLB 12: The Show offers cloud saving so players who also own the PS Vita version can take their franchise, season or RTTS on the go with them at any point only by simply ‘saving to cloud’. The Playstation 3 version offers Simulview for those 3DTV’s that support it, such as the one included in the bundle with the Playstation 3. It allows for two players to see two separate images while playing, essentially avoiding cheating.
This year’s iteration of The Show manages to improve and expand upon itself as it seems to do every year. There is no question as to why MLB 12: The Show is the #1 selling MLB title, and both Diamond Dynasty and improved controls with a bevy of options only add to the value of the yearly purchase. This time, the compatibility with the Playstation Vita only adds to the value for the MLB fan who doesn’t always have the time to sit at home. No matter if you are playing at home or on the go, MLB 12: The Show is the game for every MLB fan who wants that realistic gameplay experience.
Final Score: 4.5/5