Not unlike how great hitters in the 90s and early 2000s will be overlooked because of the steroids era, the flagship video games title of baseball is suffering a similar type of fate of bad timing.
MLB '12: The Show is probably among the top three, no it is among the top three titles released each and every year in sports gaming from a quality standpoint. The amount of depth and immersiveness within the game is right up there with every other sports game on the market from FIFA to NBA 2K.
But yet, MLB 12: The Show is often mentioned as an afterthought for sports game of the year behind closed doors here at OS and also among users within the community.
So let me make the case for why The Show is deserving of the award this year, a couple of months before we vote on it:
The new ball physics took the game to a new level fundamentally. This was the biggest new touch of this year's edition to me and many others. There are some wonky moments, but that's to be expected. The gem is that the accurate spin and deceleration of the ball produces even more types of hits, better bounces and deflections, and other various enhancements. It was a behind the scenes type of change, but it's one that has to be seen to be fully appreciated.
The new controls were a nice added touch. Pulse pitching is a mixed bag for peeps, I liked the change of pace personally. Zone analog batting was another new touch, not too unlike Pro Yakkyu Spirits' approach to hitting.
The Presentation is still quite good, although the commentary for vets is a bit stale. The little things within the game are a famous touch of the franchise, and while the commentary has truly begun to become a bit stale (we have new hope with at least one new face in the booth this year), there aren't many games in the same league as The Show when it comes to presentation. TruBroadcast Presentations were a nice addition this year as well, which added a whole new level of immersion to the game.
The game is highly customizable, there are sliders for everything. Seriously, whatever type of game of hardball you want to play, The Show theoretically makes it quite possible. It's hard to beat that type of customization. NBA 2K13 gets hailed often for it's sliders, The Show deserves equal praise.
Above all other things, the Franchise Mode is one of the deepest in sports games. I've often complained about the Franchise Mode menus, and I've given the game some knocks in the past because of it when I reviewed it -- but I can truly and honestly say The Show's franchise mode is probably the deepest of all sports gaming. No other game really captures the nuances quite like The Show's franchise mode does. This is both a benefit and a detriment. The franchise mode is so deep, the menu's really do get quite convoluted and confusing to do some pretty nuanced actions.
Will MLB 12: The Show win the Sports game of the year award in 2012?
I'm not sure. My advocacy only can go so far as there are a lot of people who vote on it to prevent this very type of strongman approach. But I know that when it comes time to cast my ballot in December, I'm going to remember to not forget The Show.
Being the oldest of the major releases each year it faces a distinct disadvantage -- a victim of timing.
But unlike those in the steroids era, The Show doesn't cheat for success, it does it the old fashioned way. Great pitching, timely hitting, and a flair for getting things right when it needs to.
In this campaign season, I say vote MLB 12: The Show -- it's the most reliable franchise on the market today.