PS3 Review: MLB 12: The Show

That pitcher? He’s a major leaguer for sure. 3 solid pitches and 95 mph heat. Me? I’m just a pretender. I’ve got a lot of potential, but I’m just 18. There’s a lot to learn before I am where he is. But now, we face each other.  I dig in, sitting on what I hope is a fastball. First one is always a fastball, right? In comes the pitch, way outside, and I relax.  It swings back, just over the outside corner. Strike one.

An off-speed pitch for an 0-1 count always throws me off-balance. I like to think that if strike one is a fastball, at least I can expect the pitcher to change speeds on the next pitch. But now, I have no idea. I’m off balance. Guessing fastball, I quick stride at the pitch. My knees buckle at the curveball, my arms locked into position. I can do little else but stare helplessly. Strike two.

There is little room for debate here. This at-bat is a foregone conclusion.  I’m so out of sorts at this point that I won’t be able to hit anything squarely, and the pitcher has me so befuddled, he could throw practically anything. I shorten up my swing, determined to do anything but strike out. My big worry is that lower outside corner. The slider, the curve, the changeup: any of these three could be big trouble. I look there, for something offspeed. And when the fastball comes up and in, I never had a chance. Strike three.

This is the opposite of what I did

As much as I’d like to catalogue the features in MLB® 12: The Show is the latest in Sony’s line of baseball simulations, doing so would be a disservice to the experience. The level of immersion in The Show is stupendous, putting you out on the mound or in the batter’s box in a way that sports games seem to have forgotten to try. Baseball is the ultimate in showdown sports games. When it’s your turn, you step in against Marino Rivera, or groove a fastball for Albert Pujols. Those moments, when a pitcher and batter face each other down, are one of immense tension, which Sony’s San Diego studio has harnessed. Instead of loosely observing sports, I’m an active participant. I stare out at the mound, trying to figure out what is coming next, and what my best approach will be. If I can get into the head of the opposing pitcher, I can hit the ball hard. With the wrong approach, however, I can look very foolish.

I’m not a hard core baseball fan, and you don’t have to be one to love The Show. The confrontation between hitter and pitcher is the centerpiece of the game, and learning the strategy involved is an immensely satisfying experience. The frustration of failure and the thrill of victory are magnified by a realistic results system, based on timing, ball location and swing location. As I began my career in the excellent Road to the Show mode, starting my major league career as a no-name second baseman toiling away in AA, I hit very poorly. I couldn’t square up balls or swing on time, and when I did, I always seemed to hit them right at defenders. As I became more experience, and mastered the pitch guessing system, I hit much more successfully. The more I hit, the better I became. It was an essential experience, and one that felt right in every way.

The shades are only for style points.

I could go into greater detail about the improved upgrade system, the cross-Vita compatibility, and the awesome season mode which allows you to have your results surrounded by the real world results of the actual 2012 season. MLB® 12: The Show is the complete package, a game with tons of features and exciting, engrossing gameplay. But more than anything, this is a sports game you truly experience, lacking the “gaminess” of other titles on the market. The baseball of MLB® 12: The Show is authentic, from the batting cages and warm up pitches to the home trot and post at-bat analysis. This is baseball, the way it was meant to be enjoyed, now here for everyone.

Pros:

  • Pitcher vs Batter feels better than ever
  • Cross vita capabilities
  • Season , Road to the Show modes all best in class

Cons

  • Base running still a little fickle in Road to the Show
  • There aren’t enough hours in the day to play

5 / 5

An Oriole making a play. Clearly fiction.

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Author: Tony Odett View all posts by
A member of the Perfectly Sane Show crew and Vagary.tv's Features Editor, Tony brings the smart and funny (and the rapine and pillage...). Also known as The Strategy Gamer, Tony declares it his duty to get as much coverage as possible for what should be everyone's most loved genre.