The month of April is known for a couple of events: religious holidays like Easter and Passover, April Fools, the USA’s tax deadline and various others. But to many sports fans it is the start of the time honored American pastime we call baseball. Yes, baseball season is in full swing and when there’s a new season, there are also new baseball video games just behind it. Personally, I’m not that big of a baseball fan, unless one of the Texas teams makes it to the playoffs. While I don’t hate it as much as golf, I just never got into it.
Full Move Support - At this point in time we can all agree on that motion controls for the most part will always be considered a gimmick that developers try to shoehorn into a game at the last minute without checking if it actually works. Move support for MLB 12 The Show is NOT one of those times. Ever since Move support made its debut on The Show 10, motion controls have been regulated to only the Home Run Derby mode. In The Show 12, motion control makes its way over to the other various modes including exhibition and season modes. Batting is pretty much self-explanatory and is just a matter of timing. As for pitching it requires a steady aim and a quick swing for regular pitches or a slow swing for sliders and fake outs.
Offensive fielding also gets a boost from being Move enabled. The Move is used for some of the simple hand signals for leading off base, stealing bases, and backing off. Holding the trigger down and motioning to the left or right will call for the runner to either ease off the base or stay put, while pressing down on one of the face buttons and making circular arm motions will call for base stealing.
Improved Controls- If motion controls are not your thing, MLB 12 The Show does offer the traditional DualShock controller and an improved Pure Analog control system, giving players even more direct control of the player at bat. This addition is called Zone Plus and gives players control of plate coverage, which increases the chance of getting contact with the ball and sending it to the outfield and hopefully a homerun. The Pure Analog system is also applied to pitching this year, and is called Pulse Pitching. This mechanic gives future strikeout kings more actuate control of their throws. These are big change ups from last year’s game and are welcome improvements.
Graphics and Sounds so Sharp You Can Almost Smell the Hot Dogs - MLB 12 The Show is visually impressive. From each stadium to the expressions of the various players and officials, everyone is rendered in such great detail. Even the stadiums, both new and historical, are rendered nearly perfect showing the developers love for baseball. Not only does the game look good, but it also sounds good. From the cheers of the fans (or lack thereof in some cases), the crack of the bat making contact with the ball to the faint calling of the hot dog vendors and the announcers calling the game, MLB 12 The Show makes it feel as if you really are at the stadium.
Road to the Show improved - One of the best features that I always enjoyed (even though I sucked) about the MLB The Show series was the Road to the Show mode. This mode would have you star as the rookie of your favorite team and make your way up the ranks, helping the team win games and eventually the World Series. In this iteration of the series, not only does the mode start you off as a rookie, but it starts you off as a rookie in an AA minor team. Depending how well you perform in the minors, you can eventually get the “call” and get sent to the Majors. Once you make it up, the true road to the show begins as you start helping your team win games to make it to the World Series. But the road isn’t a smooth path. If your performance drops you could be sent back to the minors or even be traded to a different team.
MMO Baseball - A new feature in The Show 12 is Diamond Dynasty. Now it may sound like some type of Hall of Fame mode, but its not. Diamond Dynasty could be considered the first baseball MMO, and is more than just an online multiplayer mode. Everything you can do in the franchise mode of the game can be done in DD, but this time you are competing with other human players as well. You will be able to play in a real season with other players, make active trades and much more. This is a big push forward in online multiplayer and brings the online community even closer. Add in the already strong community support, MLB.com news support, and a deep custom matchmaking makes the game’s online capabilities rival Madden’s.
STEEERIKE THREE, YER OUT!
Arm Fatigue - Like with most Move enabled games, arm fatigue will settle in. If this is the case, why mention it at all, you might be thinking. While it is true that arm fatigue comes with any motion game, the fatigue you feel flailing your arms like a crazy person is much different from a concentrated swinging motion. The swinging motions used are not something you can just “waggle” to. They require the same steady concentration that batters and pitchers use to read each other. This means tensing up their muscles at the right time to either hit a homerun or make a strike. Also a standard game of baseball usually lasts around nine innings (around 2hrs and 45mins), sometimes even going into extra innings. Imagine making the same swinging motions over and over again for two hours or more and you’ll get the idea.
Even though I’m not a very big fan of baseball in general, MLB 12 The Show is pushing what a baseball game should be. With the strongest online multiplayer support ever seen in the series, paired with graphics and sound that put you in the stands, a revamped RTTS mode and full Move support, this makes MLB 12 The Show the baseball game to get this season. Sure your arms may get tired from playing all those innings using the Move, but that can be easily over looked by using the updated Pure Analog control system for batting and the Pulse Pitching system for pitching instead. If you’re a diehard fan of the series or just love “America’s Pastime”, MLB 12 The Show will not disappoint.
*This review was based on the PS3 version of the game with a review copy provided by the publisher.*