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Review

Major League Baseball 2K12 Review

  • Game release: March 6, 2012
  • Reviewed: March 10, 2012
  • PS3

A good pitching mechanic can't mask the many faults of MLB 2K12.

by

Being the understudy to a beloved star is a tough job. Your efforts seem all the more disappointing because people compare you to another, more popular performer. This also applies to 2K's baseball games; whatever they do, year after year, they just can't escape an unfavorable comparison to Sony's superior series, MLB 12: The Show. MLB 2K12 tries to stand out with an easy to grasp analog pitching system. Although this mechanic is nice, unimpressive visuals, numerous graphical glitches, and other issues make this year's baseball game difficult to recommend.

Where other games have games have incorporated a three-click system for pitching, 2K Sports uses a pitching system that makes use of the right analog stick. Each pitch has a corresponding motion. Performing a change-up requires holding the right analog stick up for a moment and then quickly flick down; to perform a slider, flick the stick right then follow that up with a downwards semi-circle. Your success with a pitch is based on both the action performed and the timing.

When initiating a throw a white circle appears onscreen. Inside, another yellow circle begins to expand. When the inner circle meets with the outer circle, you stop the motion and perform the pitch. The size of the inner circle and the accuracy of the motion determine the success of the pitch. Performing the wrong motion can result in a wild throw or one that goes off your intended mark.

While the system is easy to grasp, it’s nothing new. What is new is the addition of a dynamic tendency system which gives constant feedback regarding pitch successes and failures. When a new batter is up to the plate, pop-ups inform you of the last pitch thrown to the last batter and, if applicable, to that specific batter. These can be very helpful as you progress through a game since knowing the correct pitches to throw will help with winning games.

Every pitch requires a different motion to pull off.

To prevent the overuse of one particular kind of throw, AI batters will be able to pick up on trends and effectively swing at what they face. This forces you to change how you approach each batter. By keeping it varied and paying attention to the pitcher's pitch count, you should be able to shut the door on any late-inning rallies.

On the field, there are numerous issues, especially when the AI is in control. When playing the My Player mode, your teammates are regularly out of position, which allows easy single after easy single. Nor do players adapt to events unfolding during the course of a game. For instance, when balls are constantly heading towards a specific area, players don't move to a better spot in order to prevent the same thing from happening again.

Pretty certain he's about to drill that ball deep!

You have absolutely no control over the actions of your teammates and are forced to rely on an AI coach. On top of that, your AI manager makes illogical decisions. Playing as a pitcher, you might unexpectedly be pulled while pitching a shutout after only three innings of work. On the other hand, you may be kept in too long when everything you throw is resulting in a base hit.

Other problems on the field include transitions between catching and throwing, which never feel fluid or natural. It's normal for a player who is getting off the ground or running to not have complete composure when throwing a ball, but even when a player is standing, his motions are out of place. There is a clear pause in the animation which can lead to a player reaching a base when they shouldn't have.

Awkward animations are apparent in a number of spots. While most players batting stances have been replicated well, facial animations are severely lacking causing most to appear as lifeless zombies. On top of that, there are numerous graphical glitches. The most evident occurs between innings: the camera often disappears into the stands and shows the feet of those in attendance. Other oddities include a player standing motionless in the batter's box while the opposing side trots back to their dugout.

The My Player mode, while serviceable, is littered with the AI issues mentioned earlier. Franchise mode fails to stand out over last year, and the same goes with the other included modes. MLB Today lets you play at the same pace as your favorite team, which hardcore baseball fans may appreciate. It's nice to be able to do so and rewrite a team's history, but only the most dedicated fans will trek through a season playing a game every day.

Outside of the pitching system, the only other notable part of the game is the commentary. The three-man team of Gary Thorne, Steve Phillips, and John Kruk has good chemistry and delivery. They reflect on the performances of players and teams from games past and present, and even highlight what they expect to see. Steve Phillips and John Kruk specifically address pitches, remarking on tendencies and offering their suggestions, which is helpful for newcomers. In most cases, what they say ends up holding true--especially if you decide to throw the same pitch time and time again.

Thanks Ump for blocking the view of home plate!

Online modes include quick play and online leagues. Performance is pretty smooth, though a lot of the graphical issues that appear offline also appear online. In terms of speed and latency, it's rare for a match to stall or be unplayable.

MLB 2K12 is plagued with issues. While newcomers can pick up the game and grasp the basics, die-hard baseball fans who want a realistic experience that is engaging from start to finish will be quickly turned off. The pitching system is the only thing of note, but if you want a more refined and authentic baseball experience, you should look elsewhere.

Editor's Note: This review previously contained incorrect information about the pitching mechanic being entirely new. What is new is the change in pitch reliability. GameSpot regrets the error.

The Good
Right analog pitching works well
Solid commentary
The Bad
Very few improvements over last year
Numerous graphical glitches
Poor fielding transition animations
Questionable AI decisions
5.5
Mediocre
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Major League Baseball 2K12

About the Author

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Former GameSpot Associate Editor, current Content Manager for EA SPORTS.

Discussion

8 comments
Thesuperstar2k
Thesuperstar2k

Mlb 2k series is not really good anymore. I hope EA take over 2k and let them do it.

djwood84
djwood84

I played this over at my friends house and it was like a game of RBI baseball... the fielding is horrible, the throwing between fielders is just insane. The game was 10-4 in the 5th when we finally decided to stop playing. Had 2 inside the park homeruns and 5 errors. This game is error.

vivalatour
vivalatour

it would be a lot of work setting AI infielders to adjust to the pattern that individual players hit , such as "pull" hitter etc. but , at least they would not just be positioned in the same spot over and over !

finalcross
finalcross

To all: Yes, I was incorrect about stating the pitching mechanic was new. The review has been changed to reflect that the right analog stick to pitch is not something new but that the dynamic tendency aspect is. I am sorry for that inaccuracy.

Yick04
Yick04

@APizzo667 This was actually 2Ks last year in their exclusive 3rd party license, so hopefully next year EA will throw something out there.

APizzo667
APizzo667

I was hoping MVP Baseball would make a comeback this year. MVP Baseball 2004 had what I thought to be the best pitching system for a game. Here is hoping to 2013!

Stemmler
Stemmler

Based on what I have read, this review obviously hasn't played a 2K baseball game before. Saying that "This year, 2K Sports has implemented a pitching system that makes use of the right analog stick" proves that point to me. 2K has had the analog pitching in their games since MLB 2K8. Maybe this reviewer should check his facts before writing a review about a game that he obviously doesn't know much about.

Draco416
Draco416

Ok. Was looking for some good Move game, but I guess screw that.

Major League Baseball 2K12

  • Xbox 360
  • Wii
  • PC
  • PSP
  • + 3 more
  • PlayStation 3
  • DS
  • PlayStation 2
The longest running Major League Baseball franchise returns to the virtual diamond with MLB 2K12.
ESRB
Everyone
All Platforms
Check out even more info at the Major League Baseball 2K12 Wiki on Giantbomb.com
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6.6
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