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MLB 12: The Show Review

  • First Released Mar 6, 2012
  • Reviewed Mar 6, 2012
  • PS3
Aaron Sampson on Google+

A new and effective pitching system makes MLB 12: The Show a solid baseball experience.

Sony has had a lot of success during the past few years with its MLB: The Show franchise. MLB 12: The Show sees a number of changes and introductions being made that touch upon all aspects of the sport. While some of these might not be immediately noticed by all, they help make MLB 12: The Show yet another attractive and enjoyable entry in this popular series.

The most pronounced changes to The Show come in two parts, highlighting both pitching and hitting. With pitching, the change comes in the way of a new pulse pitching system that removes the pitching meter seen in previous years. The pulse pitching system has a pulsating circle on the screen that helps determine accuracy. After selecting the pitch you want, a circle appears on the screen that changes size. The smaller the circle is when you release, the more accurate your pitch. The size of the circle is related to the pitcher's command of the pitch, energy, and confidence. The more reliable the pitch, the smaller the circle will be; less-accurate pitches will have significantly larger circles, and it will be much more difficult to trigger accurate throws.

To combat this, batting now has a zone analog system that gives the batter more control in the strike zone. To focus your swing on a specific part of the strike zone, you move the left analog stick around. This control in the batter's box opens the door to hitting more pitches that come your way. As long as a ball is thrown in the strike zone, you can get the best possible contact.

The new pitching system is easy to grasp but takes some time to get used to before it feels natural. It requires proper timing, especially because every pitch and pitcher will have different sized circles. But, when you manage to pull off an accurate throw, it's a joy to throw strikeout after strikeout. As for zone batting, it may not appeal to everyone, especially those who find it difficult to properly time their swings. Quick reaction is needed to pick your spot, and you still need the time to swing properly. Those unable to grasp the system are better suited to swinging normally as you can still get a base hit without bothering moving around the zone.

Hopefully this connects!
Hopefully this connects!

The same great modes from last year return, including the headliner Road to the Show. This mode is still one of the better career modes available in any sports game. This year's version includes even greater player customization and ways of improving skills. On top of that, your career begins as a double-A starter. You still need to play well, be productive, and work hard to make it to the big leagues, but being an important part of your club from day one is quite the treat.

Of course, there is a new mode available this year. Taking a cue from what EA Sports has done with Ultimate Team, Sony has included Diamond Dynasty, which lets you take control of a team of players in the hopes of achieving baseball greatness. The objective here is to take a fully customized team of players--both real and fictional--and maintain or improve your squad. You improve your team through various leagues as you play against both human players and the CPU. You can play against teams created by other players, or against AI-controlled MLB teams. Based on your skill, the difficulty level and the opposition, your cash rewards for winning vary. If you beat the Texas Rangers in Legendary difficulty, then you will be heartily rewarded; if you beat the Astros in Rookie, your reward is only a few thousand dollars more than if you end up losing.

MLB 11: The Show allowed players to use the PlayStation Move controller to swing for the fences in the game's Home Run Derby. For MLB 12, Move support is available in all modes and is used for every aspect of the game. While it works in some facets, it doesn't work well for others.

Hitting is exactly the same as it was last year and allows you to guess the pitcher's throws. Pitching lets you pinpoint the location of your pitch. Once a pitch has been selected, you simply hold the trigger on the controller and swing back, as you would a normal pitch, to get the amount of power you want in your throw. For accuracy, pitching uses the old pitching meter; letting go of the trigger in the sweet spot results in an accurate throw.

Though both the pitching and hitting work well, the Move loses its appeal when used for fielding and baserunning. To collect a ball for fielding, you have to properly time your press of the trigger button for a successful grab. Pressing the trigger too soon or too late results in the ball going past the fielder. To throw the ball, you have to gesture in the direction you want the ball to go and release the trigger in time. Not only is timing important here, but the response to the action of the throw also feels a bit off and often results in a baserunner getting extra bases.

The issue with baserunning has a lot to do with your body's position in relation to the screen. While hitting has you standing with your shoulder to the PlayStation Eye, all baserunning notifications require you to stand facing forward. The gestures you make are pretty standard, but the transition from hitting to baserunning, which can result in missing the opportunity for a better offensive play. Because of these issues, the Move support is little more than a curiosity, to be tried once for a few innings and then abandoned.

Just a hop, skip and a jump from GameSpot HQ.
Just a hop, skip and a jump from GameSpot HQ.

One aspect of baseball in which The Show has always excelled is its presentation. The three-man team of Matt Vasgersian, Dave Campbell, and Eric Karros still delivers a solid listening experience. All three are extremely knowledgeable, and their spot-on references to events happening in the current game, throughout a given season and historically, are always interesting. The latest installment of The Show has amplified the broadcast presentation elements to better replicate the feel of a televised game. Cuts between pitches and innings focus on certain players on the field and in the dugout, frequently showing them from different angles. This makes it feel like there are 1,000 cameras in the stadium covering everything. Additionally, player animations and ball physics have been greatly improved. Players move much more realistically and try to avoid colliding with each other. The transitions between an infielder receiving and throwing a ground ball are also much more fluid.

The online experience for The Show is still very much a sticking point. Match performances vary greatly, depending on how busy the servers are, but even at low periods, slowdown during games may occur. Issues, such as slow-reacting outfield players, momentary pauses between a pitch and catch, and other smaller questionable scenarios occur. They're also a factor in determining a match winner and loser. The Show has struggled in past years to fix online net code issues, and people who want to take their game online may have to endure some less-than-stellar games.

Although the pitching and hitting changes, as well as the increased emphasis on delivering a true-to-life baseball viewing experience, are welcome additions, it's likely that only those who have played the game for years will appreciate the new stuff included in MLB 12: The Show. For newcomers, especially casual players, most of these features won't be apparent. Those who prefer to rush through games and skip as many out-of-game sequences will completely miss out on a lot of the improvements and additions made to the presentation.

Trying to get some offense.
Trying to get some offense.

Another issue that has hurt the series in past years is its inaccessibility. Unfortunately, even on the casual setting, MLB 12: The Show requires a big time investment before you can start to really enjoy the game. It can be quite discouraging to play a game and struggle, even on an easy difficulty setting. But if you take the time to come to terms with it, you'll find a fun baseball experience underneath that initially intimidating complexity.

The changes and additions made to MLB 12: The Show are welcome ones. Fans of the series should be able to instantly make use of them and become a dominating force. There is still one month before the start of the baseball season, and MLB 12: The Show manages to fill that void nicely.

Back To Top
The Good
Once mastered, pulse pitching is devastating to your opponents.
Great presentation
Diamond Dynasty is addictive
All modes, including Road to the Show, are just as enjoyable as in past years
The Bad
Requires plenty of time for new players to feel comfortable
Not all aspects of Move support are good
Online issues persist.
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for MLB 12: The Show

About the Author

Former GameSpot Associate Editor, current Community Manager for EA SPORTS' FIFA Mobile.
45 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for walterg74

This guy reviews both baseball games and his comment is in both cases "a newpitching system".... Seriously, your reviews suck man, why don't you pick a nother genre.

Avatar image for trinity106

This review is weird. The score is low, but the actual writing suggests it should be scored higher. Either way, this game should be around a 9. This game is amazing, and there is no better baseball video game on the market. Massive underscoring here

Avatar image for ohjtbehaaave

No doubt this game is good and offers all the control schemes and difficulty levels a gamer could ask for. But they keep overlooking and ignoring the fact that the fielding needs major work and tweaking. Your fielders still react with lag and get hung up in their animations when your playing the field. Also... how many times has your outfielder jumped when you didn't want him to and the ball soars past him and to the wall? They've totally ignored the fielding in this game for years now and it's inexcusable. Go find some videos on YouTube of a Japanese game called Pro Baseball Spirits made by Konami to see how fielding can look and play so fluid it blows your mind. Actually if they were able to use this games engine in an MLB game.... everyone would soon forget about The Show and 2K Baseball. It's that much more realistic looking and better playing it isn't even funny.

Avatar image for Stevo_the_gamer

Why am I not surprised to read the comments only to find people complaining about the numerical value and not words in the review itself? Good grief.

Avatar image for mulder_000

@arbluhm9 I have 09-11 as well, and am not sure if I want to get this year's edition. I'm not sure about this Pulse Pitching system. Think I'll wait until May or so.

Avatar image for arbluhm9

I thought I'd be disappointed. Owned '09-'11....Best yet by far!

Avatar image for PSPFAN14

I bet you anything if this was an XBOX360 exclusive, this game would be rated higher than a 7.5!

Avatar image for DeFiLeDTitan

this "new" pitching system sounds like mlb2k's. Which is a reason I didn't like it. I always liked the meter, and I hope you can switch to it. And one thing I miss in baseball games is the arcade style hitting. World series baseball 2k1for the dreamcast had the coolest hitting ever. If you could have played defense in that game, it would have been the best baseball game ever

Avatar image for bvjens31

The new pulse pitching sounds pretty similar to the pitching in the Android game, 9 Innings: Pro Baseball 2011. Diamond Dynasty sounds pretty interesting. Might have to run to gamestop to see if they have any pre-owned's yet ;) Based on the 7.5 rating I can see there being some already

Avatar image for PinnacleGamingP

kevin why isnt The Show reviewed for the vita???

Avatar image for Justp94

Where's the 2K12 Review, LOL I must see this! It's probably going to get a 3 if it's done by the same reviewer, because this game is 4x if not like 10x better.

Avatar image for Kevin-V

@scorsaro -- So we didn't tell you what you wanted to hear in this review, and it shattered our reputation? Well, next time, send us a list of all the things you want us to say, and we will say those things. That seems reasonable to me!

Avatar image for xXJayeDuBXx

@scorsaro - Are you seriously complaining that the game didn't get an 8.5? That's one freaking point, man you need to get a life. If you like the game then what does it matter what score the game received? Enjoy the freaking game, stop complaining about one measly point and find something else better to do with your time.

Avatar image for oflow

i like how The Show stole the control mechanics from 2K

Avatar image for scorsaro

What a sorry excuse for a "professional" review! I was the first to admit that The Show 11 was kind of a let down. 12, however is better. It's not ground breaking by any means but it's hard to polish the show because it's so good to begin with. No way should this game get a 7.5. What a joke. Personally, I'd give it an 8.5. time you do a sports review, try not to hire a Japanese girl who is more interested in playing Dance Central. Get a real sports enthusiast. I've frequented Gamespot for YEARS and this review alone just shattered your reputation in my mind.

Avatar image for kuraimen

<< LINK REMOVED >> Exactly GS has no problem sticking a 9 on every COD game never mind they're the same each year but they punish non-blockbuster games a lot for the same things.

Avatar image for chrisPperson

@g_hart That's not the way reviews work. You should read the entire review, and not just the bullet points.

Avatar image for g_hart

Well since I don't use Move, don't play it online, and not new to the series.......10.0 for me. I'm on my way to get it now. Thanks Gamespot for the review!.......not that I cared either way

Avatar image for ROLLTIDE06

The Show offers four different control schemes to hit, two ways to bunt, custom cameras that you can (and should) play around with, ability to let computers field and run for you, four different control schemes for pitching, and five difficulty settings for hitting, fielding, and pitching. Oh, and sliders. You can also change the way you throw (buttons or pure analog) and choose whether or not you want the throwing meter. You can basically turn The Show from a hardcore sim to a somewhat arcade-like experience. If you can't hit the ball (using Timing only) or get hitters out on the easiest difficulty settings, then perhaps The Show really isn't for you. Heck, you can even turn off the adaptive pitching intelligence off so they don't continuously exploit your weakness during a game. I wouldn't recommend the new hitting controls (which are great) to anyone that is new to this game. Work your way up to it. Start with Timing. When you feel like you've gotten a good feel for timing, advance to Zone hitting.Then go to Pure Analog if you like. After that, you should probably be ready for the new Analog + Zone hitting. It feels like you're totally in control at the plate once you get a feel for it. Inaccessible? No, this game is far from that. I'd call a game inaccessible if you only had one option for hitting and that was it, but The Show offers you many ways to improve and play the kind of game you want.

Avatar image for Maverick2448

You want accessible? Then go back to your Wii and play your bobble head baseball and leave the real games to the hardcore crowd. I am so sick of reviewers complaining that games aren't accessible enough for the caual crowd. It is because of this that games aren't generally that challenging anymore and you can beat them in a week. The Show has been and should always be a challenging game, and if the cry babies out there don't like it well then though learn to play the game.

Avatar image for chronocross668

Still going to be AAA at metacritic no need to worry guys, the show is amazing this year.

Avatar image for MafiaMusic

those great PS3 exclsuives PS3'ers like to talk about :lol:

Avatar image for luc11044

It's a good thing I don't come here for the reviews....

Avatar image for AreUPokey

@jspillen You can't factor the Remote Play stuff into the review score because you have to have both a Vita and a copy of The Show on Vita. So you have to essentially buy the game twice in order to use the feature. Although I do agree that is should have at least been mentioned.

Avatar image for RyanSaotome

@ohjtbehaaave Its starting to reach Madden level that way. Every Madden is the best one yet, but they don't review it high since its essentially the same game as the year before, just with a few minor improvements. Doesn't mean the game is bad or anything, just that its no longer as impactful as it was when it was new.

Avatar image for dylan417

Gamespot is really losing my respect with their reviews. Not only are their reviews strict and harsh, but they aren't even well written. If 2k12 is within two full points of this game, I'm done with this site.

Avatar image for lowkey254

I'm surprised at that score. I thought a challenge was a good thing? Maybe I'm too "hardcore." lol

Avatar image for JMcN76

I love how the Show gets ripped for being a tough game, yet Dark Souls gets praise heaped on it because of this same fact.

Avatar image for jspillen

How can they not mention the remote play features of this game. You can literally be playing this game, pause it, and pick it up on your Vita and keep playing. This is the first game of in history that I know of that does this. Being the first in history and something ever gamer has dreamed of doesnt' deserve a higher rating or at least a mention. Gamespot hates on Sony just a little too much to be a very repudible review source.

Avatar image for ohjtbehaaave

I read the 'pulse pitching' gives you a headache... so I'll just use the meter or analog pitching. This game give like 8 ways to pitch and hit so there's something four everyone. I'm looking forward to seeing the new ball physics in action. I'm not sure how review scores work anymore. Every review I've read says MLB 12 is the best one ever... yet the scores don't reflect that statement.

Avatar image for sleepnsurf

Wow, why is this series going downhill? One of the reasons I bought a PS3. I think 2010 was good but 2011 stunk major a**

Avatar image for Execution360

Bad review... still getting the game though.

Avatar image for hallgren

So the game is as good as last years if not better, but the score gets knocked down mostly for things most people won't use or that are considered optional? So it deserves the gamespot 7 or 7.5! You really can't make this stuff up, it's really becoming comical on an epic scale!

Avatar image for sunghyun26

I'm gonna be really pissed if MLB 2k12 gets a 7. That means The Show is only 0.5 better than 2K which is wrong if you played the 2K MLB. Is Gamespot just giving random scores to their reviews now?

Avatar image for Deadman_est1982

I bet it would've gotten a 9+ if it had Call or Battle in the title.

Avatar image for yankeefan92383

Well said jhamlin (Well I do play online actually, but rarely was I ever in a game that lagged).

Avatar image for jhamlin71

1. I am not new to the series, 2. I will not be using the Move to play this game, 3. I do not play online matches often, if at all. From those three things which gave this a LOW score of 75, that means its a 100 for me.

Avatar image for yankeefan92383

So this gets a low score because its hard to use Move, 1st time players may have a bit of difficulty, and online has problems (which has been there since the first time the series was made)?

Avatar image for Venom_Raptor

Wow, the graphics look so realistic in the first gameplay video - amazing!

Avatar image for JdotK28

So this game got a 7.5 because of Move functionality... seems like they should stop using Nintendo Wii reviewers for PS3 games.

Avatar image for joel_c17

Always loved how big budget game reviews always forget or allow bugs and online problems, yet less hyped games get torn apart. Wonder why that happens...

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

@finalcross Thanks for fixing it then, Marko! :D

Avatar image for wwefan4ever

Requires plenty of time for new players to feel comfortable Not all aspects of Move support are good Online issues persist. You are kidding right? A bad thing is that new people require time to get comfortable? Heaven forbid people need to invest time into a game to get better at it. Move support not good? No one gives a damn about Move. You mean there are online issues with a new game? Like OMG how new >>.>> Until you get a bunch of people on the servers, you never know how they will react to an influx of people. Online issues always need time to get fixed because they cannot while making the game test to see how it runs when there are tons of people on it.

Avatar image for finalcross

@Gelugon_baat - that's not the case. I take the blame...but it should be working now.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

The video review is broken as of this time of writing. :| I get the impression that someone in GameSpot Files doesn't care enough about this game to get things right the first time.

MLB 12: The Show More Info

  • First Released Mar 6, 2012
    • PlayStation 3
    • PlayStation Vita
    MLB 12: The Show builds on what has been delivered in previous franchise releases, adding compelling features that bring unparalleled innovation.
    Average Rating228 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate MLB 12: The Show
    Developed by:
    SCEA San Diego Studios
    Published by:
    Team-Based, Baseball, Simulation, Sports
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    No Descriptors