Another baseball season is almost upon us and with it comes MLB 12 The Show. Introducing some new changes while keeping everything that people love about this series, Sony has once again done a fantastic job with this year’s title. The standard modes are present such as “Road to the Show,” Franchise,” “Home Run Derby” and much more. You then have new features such as cross platform saves, a new pitching mode and more. Sony’s MLB title has been the best around for quite a while now and they continue that dominance with this year’s version as well.
Road to the Show returns this year with a few improvements. This year’s version brings a new assortment of training modes for base running and fielding. You begin your career as a “Double-A” starter and have to work your way up to the major leagues. Throughout your minor league career you will have “advancement goals” that you will want to hit. You’ll also have training points to spend so that you can become a better overall player, however, where you improve is completely up to you. As you progress in your career you will also have get the opportunity periodically to improve on your pitching. I remember going through “knockout training” as I tried to get better with a specific pitch and I had to hit the zone that was highlighted. Successfully completely this training raised my stats and made me overall more effective with the pitch. In my opinion it is a great way of changing things up and utilizing this method, assuming you are successful, you immediately see your player improving. For people who really want to get in to some of the minutia of managing a career, this mode is for you.
One of the big additions in this year’s version is the addition of cross platform saves. Of course this will only work if you own both the Playstation 3 and Vita versions however that doesn’t lessen how cool this feature really is. I was really impressed with how this worked and how easy it was to implement. I had to recently go on a business trip and before I left I uploaded my franchise to the cloud and then downloaded it on to my Vita. I had just begun a three game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers and I played the first game on the Playstation 3. The next day, as I was on a plane heading to my destination, I played game two of that series with the Vita version. I then uploaded my progress to the cloud and once I got home I was able to download my save to the PS3 and play Game 3 of the series. This is something that I have wanted out of sports games for years and I’m happy that we are now at a point where it can become a reality. Being able to take my game on the road in that fashion is pretty amazing and the development team implemented it brilliantly.
As far as actual gameplay is concerned there have been some new additions here as well. The development team over at Sony has introduced a new way to pitch with “pulse pitching”. This new mechanic will allow you to control the accuracy of your pitches with an interactive meter. The way this works is that the meter will scale and shrink in size and you must time the meter pulse to hit your spots. The smaller the meter is the more accurate your pitch will be. This new mechanic seems to work well, however, for whatever reason it never really clicked with me. I prefer the older pitching meter mechanic and after using the pulse pitching mechanic for a while I switched over. If your pitcher starts to get tired and you want to put in a substitution then you will be introduced to the new bullpen management mechanic as well. In this year’s title you now have control over how long and how much you want to warm up your pitcher while he waits to be brought into the game. I would always try to time it just right so that he would be properly warmed up when he came in but not tired. There is also the new “Zone Plus Analog Batting” interface where you utilize the two analog sticks when you are up at the plate instead of the buttons. You use the right analog stick for strides and swings while utilizing the left analog stick to try and move the plate coverage indicator and get a better chance at hitting the ball.
Obviously the Playstation Vita version of MLB 12 The Show doesn’t have Move support, however, it does take advantage of some of the Vita’s unique features. The Vita gives you the ability to use new touch screen controls if you so choose. The front and rear touch screen allows you to throw the ball to specific locations, make pitch commands, run the bases and more. I found these new methods to work out pretty well although with anything new it is going to take practice to get used to. I think that using the buttons is still the fastest way to do things but I like the fact that development teams are experimenting with Vita to see what works.
There is also the “Play Now Plus” feature where you can tailor your “Play Now” experience so that you find a game that is to your liking. Say, for example, you want to play Rookie pitching with Legend batting, nine inning games with guess pitching on. You simply select those settings and then enter the online queue as the game searches for a suitable opponent. This level of control is pretty cool and it definitely helped me have different experience with each new game I played (I would switch around the settings each game to see what happened). Additionally, the player card is now available in gameplay and contains every attribute and select season stats for that player.
There is quite a lot to find and do in MLB 12 The Show. In addition to what I went through above there is also improved ball physics, a new tag animation system and much more. The Vita version doesn’t have all of the features of its console brethren, however, don’t let that stop you from picking it up. If you are someone that really loves the sport of baseball then I would highly recommend that you pick up this game. In addition to the game itself you can also keep up to date on MLB.com news as well as leaderboards, game history and much more. There is a reason why “The Show” is considered to be the best baseball franchise on the market. The presentation is spot on and the game looks absolutely beautiful. The Vita doesn’t look quite as good as the PS3 version, however, with the amazing screen on the Vita the difference is negligible. If you aren’t sure whether this is the game for you rent it and see for yourself. Baseball aficionados should find a lot to like here and should have a lot of fun taking their player and/or team all the way to the Show.