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PS3 MLB 12 - Standard Edition
|List Price:||CDN$ 39.99|
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- Platform: PlayStation 3
- ESRB Rating: Everyone
- Media: Video Game
- Item Quantity: 1
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Platform for Display: PlayStation 3
MLB 12 The Show is the latest release in a franchise that has been the highest rated sports video game for the past 4 years. The Show enables consumers to immerse themselves in exhilarating baseball moments by delivering true-to-life gameplay, authentic franchise and season modes, and incredible detail not found in any other sports game. MLB 12 The Show builds on what has been delivered in previous franchise releases adding compelling features that bring unparalleled innovation and polish to the sports genre.
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Here's a breakdown of the game with strengths and weaknesses.
GAMEPLAY: The biggest change this year is the pitching format. Pulse pitching replaces the meter with a pulsing circle that you place around the strike zone. Time the circle so that it's at its smallest point, and you get the most accurate pitches. The better the control of the pitcher (and the particular pitches), the slower and smaller the circle will be. Erratic pitchers will have fast pulsing circles. And as the pitcher tires, the pulsing increases. It's a neat innovation that does solve the problem of never having walks. It does also give you less control over the pitches and may feel unfair at times. Sometimes you'll feel that you've pinpointed the circle exactly at it's smallest point, and the ball will still manage to find the edge of the circle that's outside the strike zone. However, it does increase the realism, that you may want to pinpoint your pitch exactly, but in reality it is hard even for the best pitchers to place the ball exactly where they want it to go. Overall, I think it's a good addition, but if you feel it's unfair, you can always switch back to metered pitching.
Other than that, most of the gameplay remains unchanged. Analog batting now has the option to add left-stick zone control, but if you're uncoordinated like me, that becomes difficult to manage. Analog batting does seem a little more forgiving this year, but it's still a steep learning curve for beginners. Fielding remains mostly unchanged, as does baserunning. Again, if you're not a fan of the analog controls, all of button/digital controls remain in the options. In terms of Move Support, pitching and hitting are ok, fielding and baserunning are subpar. It's neat to try, but you'll most likely switch back to the dualshock after a few at-bats.
ROAD TO THE SHOW: Much of this remains unchanged. The point evaluation system implemented last year is back, and seems much more accurate to the situations than last year (and a little less forgiving). Your player begins as a Double-A starter instead of a bench player which is a plus. And there are a lot more customization options this year for aesthetics. Overall, nothing major different here, but still one of the best aspects of the game.
AUDIO/VISUAL: The graphics have been a selling point for this game for quite awhile, and this year is no different. Player models are much more accurate (I had to do a double-take the first time I saw Kershaw in the game). The stadiums look great, the crowd is a bit more diverse, and the player movements are more fluid than in previous years. I did notice some frame rate issues here and there, not enough to be a deal breaker, but enough to be noticeable.
The sound is still great. The sound of the bat crack is a little different, but overall the ambient noise and the sounds of the game make you feel like you're at the ballpark. The broadcasting trio are once again great, though many of their lines are rehashed from previous years. Still, Eric Karros took some more time in the studio this offseason to add good commentary, and it does bring the game to life. The broadcast presentation is definitely more realistic, but this will also add more time to a game. In previous years with full broadcast mode, I could get through a game in 45 - 60 minutes, but if you plan on taking in the full effect the broadcast mode this year, expect your games to last over an hour, even if you skip through some scenes. Still, this is a stand-out part of the game.
ONLINE: (UPDATED) The access to the online features has changed a little bit this year. In order to access the online features, you have to have an online pass which enables these features. Your online pass code is printed on the back on the manual in the box (not sure if you have to buy it separately if you buy from PSN, but that's outside the scope of this review). So there's no extra cost, though one hopes this isn't setting up a precedent for future releases. If you're planning on borrowing a friend's game to play online features, prepare to be disappointed. All of the online modes are immediately available from the main screen now, rather than being in a separate login area. The game rooms seem a little better organized than in previous years, with leagues and game rooms getting their own separate areas rather than being in one big online lobby.
The new online feature for this year is diamond dynasty. You create your own team and customize it, start with a group of 25 random players, and then purchase, sell, and trade player card packs (much like baseball cards) to improve your team. You can also spend points you earn to upgrade players in all their various aspects. It's a fun aspect, but it is also very time consuming, so a casual fan may not want to put in the extra effort to improve their team. But for those who enjoy taking a team of low-ability players and turning them into a super team, this will provide hours of new gameplay.
LOAD TIMES: This has been the worst part of this game for years. Especially last year, the load times were oppressively long, even to save games. This year, this aspect has been improved, but still only comes up to about average. You now have the option install 10 GB of game data instead of 5 GB onto the hard drive, and that does make a significant difference. Saves take just a couple seconds, while loads still take 10-15 seconds, sometimes a little longer. If you have the space (and unless you have a ton of games or an old PS3 model, you should), use it to install that extra game data. It makes a difference. Don't expect it to be lightning fast though.
OTHER: The updated stadiums and Marlin uniforms look good (well, good in the game; I personally am not a huge fan of the Miami Marlins uniforms, but to each his or her own). The little details are still what makes this game standout. There are now different options and styles for batting gloves and cleats. Your players can now wear the new giganto-helmets that have been sported by some players (such as David Wright), and all minor league players in the game wear them. The mascots, the grass, the random crowd members, all continue to bring the game to life.
CONCLUSION: This was more of a "one small step for baseball video games" moment for this series rather than the giant leap from last year, but the improvements continue to make this the must-have baseball game. The learning curve is still steep, though moving from meter pitching to pulse pitching is an easier jump than digital-to-analog controls. Load times are still excessive but more bearable, and the realism is still there. If you want to get the most realistic baseball experience you can without going outside and playing a game, this is your game. Have fun and play ball! (And since I'm a huge Dodger fan: It's tiiiiiiiiiime for Dodger baseball!!!)
It's all been said, so I'll be brief and hopefully helpful. First of all the only thing that I do is franchise against the CPU so I know nothing of RTTS or online issues.
First--graphically this game is even more visually stunning than ever. The appearance of the players and the movements and mannerisms are startlingly lifelike. The game is not for the impatient to be sure, and if you thought it was slow before you will think it positively glacial this year. The pace is, like a real ball game, decidedly leisurely as we see cut-away shots to the crowd,the batter's in-between pitch ritual, the pitcher walking around the mound, mopping his brow, etc. These shots give the game a real TV feel, but does bring the game time to over an hour. To fans of the slow burn of a baseball game this will, I think, be truly appreciated as it adds a very realistic feel.
Let's talk about hitting.There are a number of folks here who will tell you that it is unrealistically difficult. It has been debated at length here, but I will tell you that I am a very average gamer, but I am a baseball fan, and hitting-while difficult-is not impossible and anyone who tells you they played 3 games and got 5 hits and couldn't score a run is not going about it the right way. There is a learning curve to be sure, but the game rewards patience and a little baseball savvy. I can tell you from hard won experience if you regularly chase pitches out of the zone and don't work the count it will eat your lunch. The game will not feel sorry for you or throw you a bone. It will get nastier.
The CPU literally thinks like a pitcher. If you chase sliders away--watchout for another one further away.Has he been pounding the low outside corner? In the immortal words of Shoeless Joe--then look for low and away--but watchout for in your ear! If you work the count, and wait for a pitch to hit you will get hits and score runs. Period. I have played hundreds of games, and if anyone tells you otherwise, I would submit they have not played enough or they just don't want to spend the time it takes to develop the skill set. Is it frustrating sometimes ? You betcha. My Yanks dropped a spring training game to the Astros last night 10-0. It was still fun. I also came back from an 8-3 deficit to beat the Nats 12-10. That, my friends, is The Show. Sometimes you win....sometimes you lose.....sometimes....it rains.
One area of drastic improvement this year is the ball mechanics. The baseball acts much more realistically in terms of the way it bounces, decelerates, etc which adds even more realism to the look and play in the field.
The game is also remarkably flexible. Don't like pulse pitching? (and personally I think that was the dumbest most unnecessary feature ever added to a game)the you don't have to use it. Want to make it easier? Harder? Slow the ball down? Speed the runners up? Different levels and slider settings really allow you to tailor the game to almost any conceivable style of play.
The game has some flaws and goofy things occur every once in awhile, and I guess it's just a matter of personal preference, but to me they are so minor and infrequent as to be inconsequential.
This is my favorite time of year, and anyone who thinks, like me, that the best thing to do in life is sit in a major league stadium, drink a beer and watch baseball will truly enjoy this wonderful homage to America's pasttime.
PRESENTATION (9/10): Excellent as usual. Easy to navigate menus with a nice baseball feel. Commentary is excellent & delivered by the 3-man team of Matt Vasgersian, Dave Campbell & Erik Karros. Despite some of the commentary being similar to '11, listening to them is like listening to a real game & unlike most sports games, it hardly gets repetitive and enhances the experience. There are tons of camera angles cutting between players, benches & the crowd. The stadiums' ambiance rounds out the complete baseball experience. Option to install game data on PS3 HDD is supposed to cut down on load times but not by much IMO.
GAMEPLAY (8.5/10): Players can use the newly featured swinging & pitching controls or if comfortable with the analog style, they can use that one. New are "Zone Analog Batting" where players have more control of their swings. This gives you more control as to where you are swinging. Pitching is now done via "Pulse Pitching", not the pitching meter. The mechanic works like this -- after selecting your pitch, a pulsing circle pops up (changing from bigger to smaller). The smaller the circle, the better control. Both hitting & pitching take a little getting used but rewarding in the end. As before mentioned, those who don't like it, can play with without these new controls. "PS Move" support works for the whole game now, not just HR Derby. It works well for hitting & pitching, not so much for fielding & running. Besides tennis games, I'm not a fan of Move controls but if it's your cup of tea, it's definitely been incorporated heavily in this game.
GRAPHICS (10/10): Player models look incredible as player likeness' are better than in any sports game. Animations & ball physics really add to the game. If you don't follow the spin of the ball, you may make a fielding error. That's how good & realistic it is. The array of camera angles & overall presentation really make it like an actual broadcast and as usual, you can skip these for a faster game. Last but not least, the Stadiums look terrific.
CAREER MODE (9/10) & ONLINE (6/10): Road to the Show career mode has always been one of the best in any sports game and it returns, of course. As usual, it features lots of customizations. A new mode similar to EA's Ultimate Team has been added, called Diamond Dynasty. This mode lets you take a customized team & have it compete vs. Humans/CPU. It's perhaps too early to tell but online issues persist as servers were down initially & lag issues from the past persist. Much depends on how busy servers are, so it may improve. Therefore, time will tell (but offline is where the game shines bright).
OVERALL (9/10). Once again -- the best video game of baseball, hands down. Slightly improved over '11. I like the changes and additions made & I'm very pleased that San Diego Studios didn't just rest on it's laurels. If at all possible, the game is more polished than ever before & for Move fans, it now has full support. While some may find the game difficult, there are always game sliders & Amateur mode so in reality, not much to complain about here. Baseball season has arrived -- PLAY BALL!
After playing around with it a bit, I realized I had to adjust the pitch speed all the way down and bump my hitting timing all the way up (in the sliders) to help with the hitting but after some practice it's coming around and I'm really enjoying this game. HOWEVER, MAKE SURE YOU LOAD YOUR CUSTOM SLIDERS EVERY TIME YOU PUT IN THE GAME. FOR WHATEVER REASON, YOUR CUSTOM SLIDERS DO NOT WORK AS THE DEFAULT. Further, it's quite possible that some of my hitting problems in the past may also have resulted from the input lag that occurs in some HDTVs. I have a new TV now which has a gaming mode which may be working better than my prior one. The hitting IS difficult -- like it is in real life, BUT, as indicated above, there may be some things you can do to help you out. IT IS NOT A GAME WHERE YOU CAN JUST EXPECT YOUR NON-GAMER FRIENDS TO COME OVER AND PLAY IT WITH YOU AND HAVE SOME FUN -- IT'S MORE APPROPRIATE FOR THE EXPERIENCED SPORTS GAMER. BUT, oerall, this is a great game with awesome graphics, presentation and gameplay, as long as you know what to expect. My only major complaint might be that I wish you could simply create and load a single, custom team (rather than a whole new roster set) and that you could reduce the pitch speed even more to allow for better casual play.