MLB ’12 The Show: A Review

One fine day I got a notion that reviewing baseball video games – in an effort to find the best ones of all time – might be a cool idea. After showing one to Mr. Cistulli, he agreed relented. Thus today I bring you another video game review, this time a more timely review, of MLB ‘12: The Show, which was released Tuesday — or midnight Monday if you were lucky like I was.

Photo:
 

Vitals

Game: MLB ‘12: The Show
Platform: Playstation 3
Developer: SCE San Diego Studio
Modes: Exhibition, Road to the Show, Franchise, Season, Rivalry, Practice, Home Run Derby, Diamond Dynasty, as well as other online modes.
Cool Feature: MLB.com news, game history, custom roster vault*

*which usually includes one created by some poor soul who has labored through creating each team’s prospects

Video:

 

Categories

Realism: 10/10.
Graphics: 10/10.
Difficulty: 7/10.
Details: 10/10.
Playability: 9/10.
Intangibles: 50/50.
Total Score: 96/100 (A)

Since I haven’t done a review in a long time, let me break down each of the categories a little bit. For realism, I like to think in terms of “could this be a way a game would reasonably play out?” For graphics, it’s definitely relative to the time the game was put out. Difficulty is pretty self-explanatory; is the game extraordinarily easy or hard, or somewhere in between? For playability, I like to think of it as the ‘play again’ factor; would you play it over and over again? For me, for intangibles it was really to get it on a scale of 100, and to help to try quantify some ‘feel’ to the game (and also to help get a Jeterian element into the mix).

To set a few ground rules:

* Game will be played with teams of Mr. Warne’s choosing.
* Game will be played on a medium skill level.
* Game is played in exhibition or single game mode.
* No player movement allowed (if applicable).
* No part of the game will be simulated.
* Game can not be restarted, except in instance of system freeze.
* If my wife asks, I am working.

With all these rules considered, if any reader suggests one that should be added, it shall be considered.

Pros (in no specific order):

*Caroms off the outfield wall have been improved greatly, as in how OF plays them.
*There are tons of uniform choices for each club.
*The conversation between Vasgersian, Karros, and Campbell is good. Not many repeats. They also did 2012 MLB predictions.
*The fan variation is good. It’s pretty rare to see too many fans that look identical.
*The throwing motions for individual players are really good. Denard Span’s was spot on.
*The graphics overall are stunning. Stadium rendering is amazing, especially the aquarium.
*Catcher pitch calling is completely optional (press R2). This wasn’t a great feature in ‘11.
*Vasgersian adds a lot of good quips, like Stanton leading the league in “no doubters” and Lo-Mo’s twitter escapades.
*The physics of the game are better. The drives hook and slice, ground balls take more funny hops, and fielders can lose their balance fielding the ball from time to time.
*Variable strike zones make the game a little less predictable. Baker got squeezed really bad in the first frame, for instance. Zumaya in his rough inning, as well.
*The layout for defensive lineups is great. The camera does OF, left side of IF, right side, and then pitcher and catcher.
*The cuts screens and overlays are great. Innings have a commercial-style break, and the game takes time to watch a pitcher dry off his hands, or a hitter take his practice swings.

Cons:

*Caroms may actually be too easy. I nailed Pujols twice at second in a single game in another mode.
*Hitting, at least to me, is still awfully difficult, hence the 7/10 rating in difficulty. Basically with the timing, when I know a pitch is coming, I hook it foul either way.
*Even when I make good contact, it’s right at a fielder 90 percent of the time.
I didn’t try the new hitting or pulse pitching options extensively. The pulse pitching for the four pitches I tried was not good.
*The computer’s fielding is way too easy. It’s nearly impossible to hit a ground ball past the first baseman, and bloops that fall in don’t really happen, either.
*The Marlins started warming someone after 45 pitches for Josh Johnson. What the heck?
*3B steal attempts are far too frequent. I’ve had one in each game I’ve played. How many do you see in a regular season game?
*I didn’t see the HR sign when Reyes homered. Many would take this to be a positive, but on the replay as the pitch was being delivered the ‘thing’ was going off. Timing issue there.
*On a line drive into the gap, Span pursued it as if it was next to him the whole time. Thus, rather than high-tailing it after it was past him, he was sort of in a ‘cut-off’ position. This allowed Bonifacio a triple which should have easily been a double.

Summary:

After typing all the ‘cons’ it’s going to feel odd to say this is the best baseball game I’ve ever played, but it’s true. The first game I played, Mauer drilled a hanging curve from Felix Hernandez into the concourse at Target Field. For that second, I thought I could finally hit! Not so much, as a handful of games later I’ve still only amassed like one or two more extra-base hits. Still, the notion of pitcher wildness — in other words, you actually walk people in this game! — is interesting. No more 20-1 K/BB ratios, or anything of the sort. But yes, hitting is still difficult, and this isn’t even on any of the advanced levels. Maybe it’s just society. Or maybe I just stink.

Anyway, the detail of this game is absolutely incredible. At Target Field in other games I’ve played on this version, the minor details are absolutely terrific, like the stairway to the skyway outside the RF corner, the water tower, and even the chain link divider that prevents people from watching the game for free from the parking ramp — ostensibly — are all perfectly rendered and accurate to the real Target Field. Even the scoreboard has the same format and fonts. Incredible.

Facing Johnson was difficult. One thing this year’s version has done has made fastballs get on you a little more. Thus, Johnson’s 96 MPH heater comes out free and easy but gets on you really, really quickly. That’s great added realism for anyone who’s ever faced some pretty good heat.

But overall, the game is absolutely terrific. The game remembers your options that you selected and keeps them as your default the next game, so no having to shut off pulse pitching and analog hitting! If you’d like to read a good Road to the Show review, check out Common Man’s review at the Platoon Advantage from a few days ago. As for hitting, I’m sure I’ll end up moving the sliders around to make it a bit more accommodating — I’m really not that bad, honest — but once I start hitting, this is going to be a blast to play.

In short: Buy it, rent it, steal it.

Starting Lineups

Miami Marlins:
1. Jose Reyes SS
2. Emilio Bonifacio CF
3. Hanley Ramirez 3B
4. Giancarlo Stanton RF
5. Logan Morrison LF
6. Gaby Sanchez 1B
7. John Buck C
8. Omar Infante 2B
9. Josh Johnson SP
Subs used: Steve Cishek and Juan Oviedo in relief, Greg Dobbs as pinch hitter.

Minnesota Twins:
1. Denard Span CF
2. Jamey Carroll SS
3. Joe Mauer C
4. Justin Morneau 1B
5. Josh Willingham RF
6. Danny Valencia 3B
7. Alexi Casilla 2B
8. Trevor Plouffe LF
9. Scott Baker SP
Subs used: Joel Zumaya, Brian Duensing, and Alex Burnett in relief.

Venue:
Marlins Park, Miami FL

Final Score:
Marlins 5-11-0
Twins 0-4-1
WP – Johnson
LP – Baker
SV – None

Game Notes

Marlins:
Reyes 4-5 HR (Player of the Game)
Bonifacio 2-4 2B, 3B
Ramirez 2-3 2 IBB
Buck 1-3 2 RBI
Johnson 6.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R/ER, 5 K, 0 BB
Cishek 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R/ER, 0 K, 0 BB
Oviedo 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R/ER, 0 K, 1 BB

Twins:
Carroll 2-4
Maue/Morneau 2-7
Baker 6.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R/ER, 4 K, 6 BB
Zumaya 0.2 IP, 2 H, 4 R/ER, 1 K, 3 BB
Duensing 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R/ER, 1 K, 0 BB
Burnett 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R/ER, 1 K, 0 BB

Additionally:
Game Time Temp – 74 degrees
Attendance – 28,513
Wind – NE at 12 MPH

Purchasing:
This game — since it’s still brand new — can be purchased at any local GameStop, Target, WalMart, or any store of the like. Amazon is an option too, with the cheapest I’ve seen being $50.





In addition to Rotographs, Warne writes about the Minnesota Twins for The Athletic and is a sportswriter for Sportradar U.S. in downtown Minneapolis. Follow him on Twitter @Brandon_Warne, or feel free to email him to do podcasts or for any old reason at brandon.r.warne@gmail-dot-com

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