Baseball season is again underway, and fans are looking to sink their teeth into a video game equivalent so they can follow their favorite team when they aren’t playing, or maybe even catch up after the game just aired to see if they can change the outcome of such a close game. MLB 2K has been that game to turn on and see if you can do better than the real life counterpart. Does this years iteration of the franchise bring it all to the plate, or does it deserve a permanent spot on the bench?
MLB 2K12 has all the presentation aspects of many 2K sports titles. The main menu is optional with the right stick, and the boxed menu on the main screen that has been also apparent in the NBA 2K titles which is sleek and easy to maneuver. Key modes that fans expect to appear, like Franchise, Play Ball (play now), My Player and MLB Today, are all present, and other modes such as: Home Run Derby, Drills – so players can get used to the drills apparent in My Player mode – returning Online Leagues, as well as the new MLB Today Season mode also appear for fans to enjoy.
Just as the last few years have featured a Perfect Game Challenge, this year is no different – allowing players on both Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 to play an MLB Today game and try for the perfect game. The new pitching system will make things all the harder and all the more realistic. Pitches now deteriorate and become either effective if it is the pitch that strikes a player out or less effective if continuously used on the same batter, or if gotten a hit off of. The same is for placement of the pitches, players will no longer be able to paint the corners and breeze by every game. It challenges the player to mix up their pitching game for fear of getting punished in the end. Fielding also looks to mix it up with new features such as a throw meter that has a risk and reward to throwing, a fast throw off the grab or waiting for your player to gather his composure after picking up the ball will determine how big or small the green (good throw) area on the meter is. Players fielding abilities also will play a larger part in this meter.
My Player is the main mode that will suck up a lot of your time, just like it did in the past. The mode is easily most fun mode of its type on the market. Some will appreciate the fact that you gain attribute points for not only hitting, but fielding and base running as well, which are completely separate and used in their own categories in the My Player section to level up your players attributes. The improved My Player mode features customized stats by position and player type. Do you want to be a closer, maybe even a starting pitcher? How about a play maker, or designated hitter? It is all up to your choices in creating a character. My player retains the deep customization of the mode that fans have been accustomed to, but also now adds regressing statistics that if not cared for will deteriorate. Extra goals are given for certain situations like Hit & Run, don’t strike out, hit an extra base hit, driving the run home and so forth. There are also some goals that appear while on base such as stealing, and hit & run. The disappointing part of My Player is that your player is not on the field the entire time unless you are the pitcher. It would have been great to contribute to every out.
The new MLB Today Season mode utilizes the engine for MLB Today and allows you to follow a team throughout the entire season and shows your stats and how you stack up against the real life counterpart. This mode is great for fans of MLB Today but really doesn’t add anything ‘game changing’ to the formula. The base running in the game is extremely touchy, and using the triggers to steal, get leads and retreat can be a pain. This is more noticeable in My Player where a simple flick can cause your player and your team an out. It may take a few games to get used just as will the hitting, which uses the left stick for aiming and X/A for contact. Timing really is everything – as many already know. The AI has been improved this year to make smarter plays and better decisions overall, however on the lower difficulties players will see the opposing team causing a lot of errors. Also in franchise mode with the Yankees we noticed that if you choose to simulate a week or two, injuries occur far too frequently. The ball physics are great, but sometimes there is a noticeable suction of the ball into the glove, which can be irritating if you happen to notice it – unless of course it is your favor.
MLB2K12 may be the last hurrah for the MLB 2K series and it is sad as this year’s iteration is not all bad, but has a lot of faults that could have been fixed if they were not seemingly overlooked due to time constraints and a deadline to meet. The My Player mode is one of the best we have played as it is fun, but some features and aspects may take you away from the ‘true’ baseball feeling, but you’ll still have fun. The soundtrack is great if you happen to enjoy dubstep but if you are looking for a bevy of new features, not slight improvements, the hardcore might be better off looking at the much more feature heavy and eye pleasing MLB The Show.
Final Score: 3.5/5