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OS Scores Explained MLB 12 The Show Overview (PS3)
Pros
Outstanding Physics upgrades; New input mechanics; TruBroadcast camera work
Cons
Modes are nearly unchanged; Commentary is too often too familiar; Online is not good at this point
Bottom Line
This is the best MLB: The Show yet. If you like Baseball, or if you own a PS3...go get this game.
9
out of 10
MLB 12 The Show REVIEW

MLB 12 The Show Review (PS3)

The best sports games, at least on the simulation side of things, are those that best reproduce the sport they represent. We can hopefully project that one day a perfect sports game will be produced; one that completely mirrors its real-life counterpart in every way.

Here’s the problem: because the game it so closely imitates doesn’t change from year to year, this perfect reproduction -- the same down to the smallest detail -- doesn’t change either. And because we expect big innovations in our virtual sports, but not the real ones, it’s called “stale,” “repetitive,” and “boring” by both users and critics.

To be clear, MLB 12: The Show is not that perfect game, and has a long way to go until it is. However, I believe MLB 12: The Show to be the closest and truest representation of a sport on consoles today. You, like me, may find parts to be lacking, and I think that “stale” does accurately describe certain aspects of the game. But taken for what it is -- another step in the quest for the “perfect game” -- MLB 12: The Show is one of the best.

Gameplay

The biggest and best improvement in MLB 12: The Show is the reworked physics engine. Now reproducing accurate spin and deceleration, this feature alone makes The Show worth checking out.

I outlined some of the best places to see the physics in action during my initial impressions, and you really must see it to fully appreciate how this improvement changes the game. You’ll see a larger variety of hits, more realistic bounces and deflections, and various plays unfold in unexpected but believable ways. The physics makes defensive positioning and ratings more crucial and make you think twice about taking extra bases.

I may be overstating it a bit, but I think this under-the-hood change is one of the best ever advancements in virtual baseball.

Of lesser impact are the two new control methods, both of which I’ve been using relatively exclusively.

First is Pulse Pitching, which isn’t that innovative if you’ve ever played a baseball game on iOS. Once you select a location, a contracting circle indicates the pitch zone; properly timing a button press will keep that zone small and your delivery accurate.

I like this system for a couple of reasons. First, it’s easy to see when and how badly you’ve missed your location. It’s also a little harder to paint the black, resulting in an increase in walks. I also like that the speed with which the circle moves is affected by a number of factors, including pitcher fatigue and confidence.

I imagine that this mode might get a little easier as I get better at timing, so it’s nice to know that the other control options are still in place. There also is no way, that I can see, of controlling velocity while using Pulse Pitching.

The other new input mechanic is Zone Analog Batting, a tweak to the analog controls introduce last year. It essentially mixes zone interface and analog controls, making you “aim” while you are swinging.

It works well enough, as I can immediately tell if I jammed myself or simply missed a pitch, but it is a bit more difficult. Right now, I tend to be late on everything, even though the default pitch speed seems to have been reduced a bit. I’m not sure if it’s the batting interface, hitting camera, or pitch speed, but I am finding that I can read pitches a bit better this year, increasing my walk rate.

Other gameplay improvements include collision awareness, new animations, and more bullpen options. These, like the other improvements, are subtle but effective. The animations, in particular, work exceedingly well with the new physics.

Presentational Realism

If you only play exhibition games, this game is going to sound very familiar. It seems that all of the commentary changes are found in Franchise mode. I will still argue, though, that despite its year-to-year repetitiveness, the commentary still ranks among the best in sports game (trailing the MLB and NBA 2K series).

However, many sound effects have been enhanced, especially the sound of the ball off of the bat. You can clearly tell how well the ball was hit just based on sound.

Regardless of what mode you spend time in, the game will look a lot different, thanks to the TruBroadcast Presentations. Essentially, the game reproduces the camera cuts you’d find during a television broadcast, from dugout shots to pitcher/batter reactions. Oddly, I’m seeing fewer replays this year, which is a little disappointing. Otherwise, the visual elements look great, including (presumabely) improved faces and redesigned on-screen graphics.

Simulational Realism

Without messing with sliders, I think The Show plays a fine game out of the box. I would say that the games tend to lean toward the defensive side; I’ve seen lots of games end with low scores and sub-10 hits for each team. Again, I’m struggling a bit pulling the ball, which no doubt decreases my power hitting. But I’ve seen the computer jump on bad pitches and take walks if my pitcher is struggling.

I would also say that my pitchers seem to tire a bit too quickly. On the other hand, the CPU pitchers are pulled at opportune times, though I've see the managers go to their closers at weird spots.

Simming in Franchise generated more varied scores. And while my sample size is small, simming through a season produced no red-flags. Again, as more users experience the game, problems may pop up.

Speaking of which, there is a large bug/glitch thread in our forum. I’ll say that I experienced no huge problems during my time with the game. I saw the occasional statistical oddity: errors charged to players didn’t show up in the box score or an incorrect line score reading by the commentary team. But in my time with the game, jumping between the three main modes and exhibitions, I didn’t see any larger issues. This isn’t to say that they don’t exist.

Modes

I broke these modes down in my previous article, but to sum up my feelings:

Diamond Dynasty is interesting, but not necessarily as innovative as its marketing would suggest. It is certainly fun, but limited by it’s reliance on budgeting decisions and bad online play.

Road to the Show hasn’t seen many true improvements, other than a change at the beginning of the player’s career. It’s a bit more streamlined, potentially allowing you to skip the slog through the AA league.

The improvements to Franchise are minute, but I’ll defend this mode as one of the deepest out there. Still, it’s going to seem awfully familiar to anyone who spent a lot of time here in the past. Trading with the CPU is refined, but you may still see some wonky CPU/CPU transactions.

Additionally, there are some nice broadcast and UI upgrades; the stat screens and main menu have seen some nice revisions. It's great seeing in-game stats from other games, or the fact that your batter is leading the league in stolen bases.

Online/Move

As I mentioned earlier, my online experiences haven’t been good. I’ve seen a number of disconnects, quits and laggy games thus far. I’m not sure if they can be remedied, but it’s enough to steer me away from online play at this point.

If you are primarily an online user, browse the forums for a wider view of how this game plays against others. This has traditionally been a weakness of The Show; I was (and still am) hoping the focus on Diamond Dynasty might lead to improvements.

As for Move compatibility, it’s neat, but really just a novelty. I can’t see myself or other serious enthusiasts spending a great deal of time playing this way. It’s worth showing off at a party, but certainly won’t replace your controller.

Final Thoughts

It seems to me, that because The Show already represented baseball so well, its upgrades may go unnoticed by the casual baseball fan. But dig deeper and you’ll find the physics, broadcast and control enhancements really take this game to a new level.

While I’d love more innovations to its main modes, I’m not sure that console baseball has been better than this. From first pitch to last out, this game is as close as it gets.

Learning Curve: With so many options and difficulty adjustments, new players should have no trouble jumping in. Tutorial movies help a bit.

Control Scheme: Horray for The Show: when they add a new control scheme, they don’t take all of the old ones out. The new ones are my preference for now, but I like that I can switch at anytime. Move is an interesting novelty.

Visuals: The new broadcast elements really show off some good-looking faces and environments. I wish there were more replays.

Audio: I think it’s time for some adjustments to the broadcast team, but what’s here is good. Probably the aspect most longtime fans will have issues with, but you’ll occasionally be wowed by some timely and surprising commentary.

Lasting appeal: I’m having a blast playing one-off games, but look forward to investing more time in Franchise and Road to the Show. Diamond Dynasty is good too, but mostly if you are playing the CPU. Great gameplay and three deep modes mean that you'll have plenty to due until next March.

Score: 9 (All-Time Classic)


MLB 12 The Show Videos
Member Comments
# 1 Perfect Zero @ 03/15/12 03:47 PM
I agree with the majority of this article, except I would dock the game on online just a bit more. Online is simply unplayable, and since one of the biggest new modes (Diamond Dynasty) is dependent on it, it really hurts the game. Otherwise, solid score.
 
# 2 pistolpete @ 03/15/12 03:52 PM
Singles off the wall and kick saves by pitchers are realistic?
 
# 3 DeathJohnson @ 03/15/12 03:55 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by pistolpete
Singles off the wall and kick saves by pitchers are realistic?
Heh, yeah, the pitchers make ridiculous "saves" this year. Last year a hit up the middle was a base hit almost all the time, this year it seems like half of them just bounce off the pitcher and go to another fielder who can throw you out easily from there. I don't believe I've seen that yet in the MLB.
 
# 4 pistolpete @ 03/15/12 04:04 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeathJohnson
Heh, yeah, the pitchers make ridiculous "saves" this year. Last year a hit up the middle was a base hit almost all the time, this year it seems like half of them just bounce off the pitcher and go to another fielder who can throw you out easily from there. I don't believe I've seen that yet in the MLB.
Generally when a ball hits a pitcher it's worldwide panic.
 
# 5 DJ @ 03/15/12 04:15 PM
Good, balanced review.
 
# 6 jkra0512 @ 03/15/12 04:24 PM
Great review. Definitely agree with most everything here. I don't play online so I don't know about that component.
 
# 7 bukktown @ 03/15/12 04:34 PM
The online modes and mini games are very glitchy right now. I think it's too early to review them.
 
# 8 Skyboxer @ 03/15/12 04:35 PM
Agree with pretty much everything. Yes online could be more stable but for me online will always be a minor point as the single player aspect is what matters to me the most. In the end I hope it gets better but not a sticking point for me.

It's the best sports game I've ever played, period. I've played every single game in my franchise which is a first.
I plan on playing all 162 +.
The game is well deserving of the score.
Many of the "Complaints" threads, some of which directly contradict each other, are easily fixable if people would put the same effort into getting the settings right to fit their play style, as they do wanting to "Be the One" to post issues.

In the end it's a great game that's fun and enjoyable, and that's what matters to me.
When you're at work thinking how you're going to turn the season around tells me what I need to know about the game.
 
# 9 ultralow36 @ 03/15/12 04:47 PM
great review.....just like all sports games online is on and off
 
# 10 Clarke99 @ 03/15/12 04:51 PM
Good Review, although 9 is too much love.

same old same old, not that the show needs to re invent the wheel here but somethings such as Diamond Dynasty instead of time on commentary, are questionable.
 
# 11 Ollienyy @ 03/15/12 05:30 PM
I usually love the reviews this site does but I felt this one was lacking detail. I wanted more of your thoughts of the overlays, the Presentation etc. A great game but still has areas that need improvement and have needed improvement for a while.
 
# 12 N51_rob @ 03/15/12 05:52 PM
I think this was a fair, review. That said, I think the author understated some of the CPU trades. Calling them "wonky" plays light on a situation could be very bad. There is a thread where people are listing trades and there is a listing of the Yankee's line-up that is really troubling and may be reason to have to use the 30 team control.

But I also don't expect the author to talk about something that he hasn't experienced. I do think it is a fair and well written review.
 
# 13 Knight165 @ 03/15/12 06:21 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by N51_rob
I think this was a fair, review. That said, I think the author understated some of the CPU trades. Calling them "wonky" plays light on a situation could be very bad. There is a thread where people are listing trades and there is a listing of the Yankee's line-up that is really troubling and may be reason to have to use the 30 team control.

But I also don't expect the author to talk about something that he hasn't experienced. I do think it is a fair and well written review.
The trades may still be pretty bad. Something is definitely off(RP still WAY too overvalued)
But that Yankee lineup/rotation in that thread is pure B.S.(unless it was the USER making those trades)
I simmed probably twenty times....two or three seasons in to see stacking like that and not once. Not even close.

But...I'm glad the review focused on the on field play, which is excellent.....

M.K.
Knight165
 
# 14 cusefan74 @ 03/15/12 06:33 PM
I have not seen one single off the wall in this game, but the pitchers do get a lot of balls up the middle. The review is pretty accurate I think, this game is great. As far as on-line, I just refuse to play because it always sucks for this game, but that's ok with me I prefer to play franchise or RTTS anyways.
 
# 15 jeffy777 @ 03/15/12 08:48 PM
Good review. This is the best offline sports game I've ever played. Smooth out the online play and it would be perfect. But the gameplay itself is amazing.
 
# 16 Tomba @ 03/15/12 09:59 PM
Great great review. I agree that this is the best MLB The Show game and possibly the best baseball game ever made
 
# 17 DaReapa @ 03/15/12 10:01 PM
"...I believe MLB 12: The Show to be the closest and truest representation of a sport on consoles today."
I concur to the fullest.
 
# 18 SDwinder @ 03/16/12 12:48 AM
Letter perfect review! There does seem to be more batted balls bouncing off the pitcher and/or fielded, than in previous versions. But, nothing too unusual.

The balls off the outfield walls are not as easy of Doubles as they should be. Slower runners sometimes get thrown out. Makes the game a little more jnteresting though. Hehe
 
# 19 LastActionHero @ 03/16/12 03:55 AM
I've heard the lack of replays in some other posts as well but they start later this year. In previous installments they would kick in immediately but now you first see the camera focus on the pitcher or batter and then cut to the replay. Just like they do in a real broadcast because they quickly have to wind back and cut the replay to show it properly.

Overall there are less replays but thats a good thing in my opinion because there were way to many last year. But I think lots of people don't see them because they press the button before the replay kicks in.
 
# 20 Yankees_CT @ 03/16/12 08:31 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by LastActionHero
I've heard the lack of replays in some other posts as well but they start later this year. In previous installments they would kick in immediately but now you first see the camera focus on the pitcher or batter and then cut to the replay. Just like they do in a real broadcast because they quickly have to wind back and cut the replay to show it properly.

Overall there are less replays but thats a good thing in my opinion because there were way to many last year. But I think lots of people don't see them because they press the button before the replay kicks in.
I was going to comment on this as well. They seemed to have delayed the replays in certain circumstances this year which I agree is more realistic. On strikeouts it takes a few seconds of seeing the pitcher walk back to the mound before the replay kicks in. I noticed that if your patient and wait for it you will get a great amount of replays but if you only wait a couple of seconds after a play and hit the button it by passes the sequence altogether. I agree with the above and think that may be the problem that people are having with replays.

By the way - LOVE this year’s version. For me, since 08, The Show has been the best baseball and sports game period. This year just solidifies that.

Edit: Great review Caley. Fair and balanced like a Fox
 

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