The greatest measure of any sports game (or really any game) is the level of immersion that game provides. Those rare sports games will provide controls, visuals, and gameplay that allow that player to not only play a game, but also enjoy an experience nearly indistinguishable from the sport itself. And while my love for the NBA 2K franchise is well documented, I can’t help, when choosing this year’s sports game of the year, look at any game other than MLB 12: The Show.
With fully mastered control schemes (both of the standard controller and PS Move variety), an all-new animation system that avoids odd problems that have plagued baseball games over the years, and amazingly accurate commentary (again, let’s fix all those problems from years past), the game already achieves more than most similar genre games. Added to this package, though, is the ultimate in batter-versus-pitcher confrontation. It is easy to get lost in the pitch by pitch struggle to put the bat on the ball. The game builds unbelievable tension, right up until that payoff pitch. Working the count, putting a good swing on the ball and putting it over the fence feels like a real achievement.
I wish more sports games would attempt to truly reflect the sports they portrayed, but it is something that MLB 12: The Show does convincingly and decisively. Baseball is a game about the unavoidable collision between pitcher and batter. The folks over at developer Sony San Diego have put their expertise earned over several outstanding baseball releases into this effort, their crowning achievement.
-Tony Odett, Features Editor
With releases like NFL Blitz, Tony Hawk: Pro Skater HD and SSX, this year saw the return of extreme sports gaming to the forefront of gaming culture. While all three relied heavily on nostalgia to drum up support, it was only SSX that actually delivered a game worth talking about. SSX delivered the most competitive online multiplayer of the year, and it did not even have traditional online multiplayer functionality. Utilizing a modified version of Need for Speed’s Autolog, SSX pitted friends against each other via detailed ghost data and leaderboards and players went all in attempting to defeat race times and trick scores. It took asynchronous multiplayer to a new level and was amazingly fun at the same time. Simply put SSX was a joy.
-Chris Scott, Reviews Editor