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 a whole host of new features such as the new “Diamond Dynasty” mode, cross platform saves, being able to co-op with certain modes 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. If you play well enough then you will eventually move up the ranks until you get called to the majors. If you falter to much you might fall down the ladder, so to speak. 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 on my Vita. 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 been wanting 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. Another new feature added to this year’s version is the co-op season and/or franchise. You can now play any/all games within each mode using one, two, three or four players. All you have to do, similar to other sports titles, is enable the amount of controllers that you want to use on the team select screen and you are good to go.
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. If you happen to own the Playstation Move then you can experience the game almost as if you were really there playing. You can now control pitching, fielding, base running and hitting with a combination of gestures and buttons. Batting seemed to work really well but the pitching and fielding seemed a bit awkward at times.
If you are the type of player that likes to take the action online then there are new features to be found here as well. The first part is the new “Diamond Dynasty” mode. This is where you compete in a massive multiplayer online franchise where success depends not only on your play on the field but your managerial skills as well. You get a chance to create your own team and once that is done you are given a handful of MLB baseball cards and Dynasty cards that, when activated, add the players to your team’s roster. One of the core principles of Diamond Dynasty mode is revolves around the difference between the MLB cards and the Dynasty cards. MLB players are short-term investments that are pretty much good to go out of the gate. Dynasty players are much more of an investment that will require training, similar to that of a Road to the Show player. 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 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).
As you can see there is quite a lot to find and do in MLB 12 The Show. I’ve mainly gone over some of the big changes found in this year’s version instead of going over everything that you see in the game every year. In addition to what I went through above there is also improved ball physics, a new tag animation system and much more. If you are someone that really loves the sport of baseball then I would highly recommend that you pick up this game. I didn’t see anything particularly revolutionary in this game but what you get is a solid foundation for a really great game. 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. I even had a friend (who isn’t a gamer) ask me what channel the game was on as he thought I was watching a real life baseball game instead of playing it. 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.
Originally posted on Totally Gaming Network