MLB 12: The Show |
Realizing that not everyone can always jump on the latest new hardware, Sony has been really good about supporting their legacy systems like the PSP and the PS2 with past releases of their MLB franchise, The Show, but there comes a time when old systems have to fade away and that time is now. But even as the PS2 and PSP fade away into a distance memory, MLB 12: The Show rises from the ashes like a Phoenix on the new PS Vita and promises to deliver the same, or at least as much as possible, console experience in the palms of your hands. Can they deliver?
For the most part, yes, MLB 12: The Show on the PS Vita is a clone of the PS3 version with only a few genetic flaws that are inherent to trimming down a console game from a massive Blu-ray disc to a tiny memory chip. All of the core game modes from the PS3 game have made the trip to the Vita, including Exhibition, Season, Franchise, Home Run Derby, online play, and the life-consuming Road to The Show, for those who want the personal experience of taking control of one player through his career starting in the Minors all the way to the Majors. And now with Cross-Platform Saves, you can interchange your PS3 and Vita data so your home games can easily become away games.
While you are free to play the MLB 12: The Show using any of the new or classic controls from the PS3 version, the PS Vita offers up new touch screen controls so you can throw the ball to specific locations, make pitch commands, and run the bases, all with taps on the front touchscreen and rear touch pad. Sadly, these touch inputs are the only exclusive feature the Vita can offer, which pale to what has been stripped away; mostly the new Diamond Dynasty mode, The TruBroadcast Presentations, and of course, 3D and Move support. And while I can easily live without three of those things, the Diamond Dynasty is so massively time-consuming that I really wanted to continue that PS3 experience on my Vita. Plus, the whole trading card element just seems like a natural inclusion on a handheld system you can carry around and hook up with people on Near.
Building on what is arguably already the best baseball game on the market, MLB 12: The Show is easily the most authentic recreation of the sport as well as the most complete full-featured experience, nailing every aspect of the game with absolute. This year sees some innovative new features like Pulse Pitching, where you must rhythmically match a heartbeat-style pulse and tap the X button at just the right time for the perfect pitch. Itís a great new way to pitch that keeps the game moving along, but you are free to revert back to the classic arc meter or even take a stab at analog pitching, which had me feeling like I was putting in Tiger Woods.
The other side of the equation comes in the form of Zone Analog Batting Ė the marriage of the analog controls from last yearís MLB 11 whereby you can now control your stride and swing with the right stick and your accuracy within the strike zone with the left Ė something we can finally do now that the Vita has twin sticks. Itís a fairly complicated process; one that tries to mirror the complexity of human movement achieved more accurately with a Move controller, but if you donít have a PS Move and are willing to put in the time, Zone Analog Batting is pretty darn realistic.
For diehard baseball fans who are playing this game on the PS3 as well as the Vita, MLB 12: The Show now supports cloud saves, so you can take your Franchise, Season, and Road to The Show games on the road. You only get a single save per mode so you canít abuse or cheat your career. Iíve been bouncing save data back and forth between my PS3 and Vita, and the process works as advertised. The only way this Vita to PS3 connection could be better would be to incorporate actual real-time cross-play with me pitching from my Vita to a player who was batting on the PS3, but I guess they are saving that for MLB 13.
Iím completely blown away by the number of improvements and new features (more than 50) in this yearís baseball game. I could go on and on about the enhanced Franchise mode and new trade system, or the improved Road to the Show mode with all-new training exercises and accessories to create the ultimate personalized experience. For those who love to split their gameplay across local and online play, you wonít believe how much the new Online Everywhere streamlines the process by creating a set of unified parameters between both modes.
While the PS3 graphics left me feeling a bit underwhelmed, they look slightly better on the Vita; of course anything looks better when you shrink it down and put it on a gorgeous OLED screen, but even so, I was very impressed with what I was seeing on my Vita. Despite having fewer instant replays (likely to streamline the experience) the camera angles and the player animations were great; the menus easy to read and navigate Ė this was very much a portable console game. The limited commentary from the PS3 has been stripped down even further making it more repetitive than ever, while crowd and ambient stadium sounds are still quite good on either internal speakers or headphones.
MLB 12: The Show is a huge step up from the PSP (how could it not be), and comes dangerously close to mirroring the PS3 version. Obvious sacrifices had to be made in gameplay and presentation to pack this huge game into your hands, but for those looking for a great (albeit only) handheld baseball game or just a great way to take your console game on the road with you, MLB 12: The Show is a fantastic title that all Vita-carrying baseball lovers should pick up.