PS3 & PS Vita Review – MLB 12: The Show

Never before has there been file sharing with Sony’s flagship sports sim between their full size console and their full featured handheld. MLB 12: The Show changes that, but are there enough differences between this year’s release and last year’s to make the purchase worth it?

Read our review to find out, and be sure to leave comments, as we will be giving away one PS3 copy of the game and one PS Vita copy of the game.

The MLB: The Show series wows us every year with its great graphics and true-to-life animations. This year’s edition is no different, and even improves on the fluidity of some of the players’ movements. The graphics continue to shine as always. Stadiums recreated in all their glory (including some stadiums no longer in existence and some minor league stadiums).

The PS3 version of the game introduces full move support for more than just the Home Run Derby this year. Batting can be done left handed or right handed, and feels as close to hitting a real baseball as you can get while not really playing baseball. Playing on a 55″ TV, you can see the rotation on the ball clearly enough to take an educated guess on what pitch is being thrown, and have a good idea of where the ball will be when it crosses the plate. While holding the move controller like a bat, you can load up, keeping your front shoulder in, then swing away once the time is right.

Timing is key, but the location of your bat as it crosses the plate is also important. Bat speed is regulated by the speed of the Move controller, and where the ball ultimately goes is based on how and where you make contact. It can be pretty precise, and bunting is a great example of this. While holding the Move button on the controller, you can act just like a real batter, and try and bunt up the 3rd baseline , or towards 1st, or even make the pitcher field the ball. Knowing how some pitchers fall off the mound after pitching can work to your advantage.

Move support doesn’t end once you reach the base. After hitting the ball, you become the base coach. If you drive one into the gap, don’t hesitate to wave the runner on to 2nd, literally. Moving the controller in a circular motion, just like real life, will advance the runners until you give them the stop sign. If the outfielder bobbles, or goes for a play at the plate, wave the runner onto 3rd for that hard-to-get triple. Using the Move controller can really add to the overall offensive experience of the game. Nothing like an inside-the-park homerun to leave you breathless!

Motion Control fielding isn’t as intuitive as we were hoping, but does add to the overall experience. While we were hoping that the controls would have us physically moving the controller towards the ball, in reality you only have to hold down the trigger button once the ball gets close. Timing is key, so don’t press the button too soon or too late, or you’ll end up with an error. Once you have the ball, you only have to swipe the controller towards the base you want to throw to.

Road to the Show returns and adds a few things that were greatly needed since the introduction of the mode. As a PSP and a PS3 owner, I have owned both versions of the game since MLB 10: The Show. My RTTS experience generally lived on my PSP since I could literally take it on the road with me, wherever I went. The PS3 experience is great, but I found more time to play on my portable. I’m still playing through a lengthy career with MLB 10, but it might be time to retire my guy to the Hall of Fame.

MLB 12: The Show finally gives us the chance to share game saves, rosters, sliders and created players across both the PS3 and the PS Vita. You can now start a RTTS career on the PS3, upload it to the cloud, and then download it from the cloud and continue from your PS Vita, and vice versa. You can also use this feature for Franchise and Season modes. One downfall here is the inability to download anything from the cloud while on 3G. None of the files seem exceedingly large, so I’m not sure why they have that limitation. I wouldn’t want to play an exhibition game online via 3G, but I would like to be able to access other things while out and about. Hopefully they’ll patch this so we can at least access our online vaults and game saves.

Another addition to RTTS mode is that you no longer start out on the bench. Your career begins at Double-A, but you’ll be a starter from day 1. That doesn’t mean you’ll stay a starter though. If you start your career as a closer, and start blowing saves, you’ll lose that closing position and have to earn it back. Same thing if you are a starting pitcher and your ERA becomes bloated. If your batting average lives below the Mendoza line, you’ll find yourself relegated to pinch hitting and spot starts. As in real life, consistency breeds success while inconsistency breeds failure.

New and unique to the PS3 edition this year is the Diamond Dynasty mode. This mode allows you to create a complete custom team, including colors, uniforms, name, location, etc. You are then given a handful of player cards that are either MLB Playing cards or Dynasty cards. Think of this as either free agents ready to go (MLB cards) and farm players that are up and coming investments (Dynasty cards). MLB cards have a limited number of games they can play for you, so your managerial skills will be tested. Playing games will earn you ingame cash, which can then be used to purchase more card packs and help train your dynasty players, similar to RTTS mode.

Game play additions for this year include full analog pitching and batting. Now that a PlayStation portable has dual analog sticks, the experience can be the same across both platforms. With Zone Plus Analog batting, you can use the right stick for swinging, while the left stick can be used for bat location. If you see the pitch cutting to the outside of the plate, press the left stick towards it while swinging, and you just might slap it hard the other way. Adjusting your swing on the fly has never been easier. Timing your swing, and either loading up for a monster swing, or just pressing forward for that surprise drag bunt, is completely up to you; contextual hitting at its finest.

Analog pitching is a little simpler, as the right stick controls your pitching. Location, pitch speed, and control are all based on how well you time and aim your release. Once you’ve selected your pitch by pressing the corresponding button, pick your location using the left stick, then pull back on the right stick and watch the meter. Press forward, and in the direction you want the ball to go, and if you time it correctly, swing-and-a-miss. Get it wrong and it might be “just a bit outside”. Training mode can help you hone your skills in either batting or pitching, so you might want to take it for a spin before going with either in-game.

MLB 12: The Show PS3 presentations have been revamped to give the game a more real-life feel. If someone walks in while you are playing, they might just think they are watching a real game and not a video game. Commentators are chattering away, giving play-by-play as well as color commentary. Hit a ball into the stands in the outfield and you’ll see the crowds just in the area of the ball reaching for it. Camera angles are true to life and new audio sounds have been added.

Returning this year is the Challenge of the Week. This is a weekly contest that will pit you against different players and based on how well you score, just might net you some cool winnings. Last year’s prizes ranged from signed memorabilia to MLB.com gift cards. While last year you only got one free try a week, this year you can play all season long for FREE. You can’t beat that with a stick, but maybe you can with a bat.

Challenge of the Week is Free this Year

San Diego Studios tries to take the MLB: The Show series to a new level every year, and every year they surprise us by doing just that. Giving us the ability to finally share our game saves across platforms makes buying the game for both platforms a no-brainer. Add in the reduced price when buying both together sweetens the deal. Every year they make it better, and this year is no different.

Grand Salami San Diego Studios!

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