MLB 12: The Show Review

Issues aside, MLB 12: The Show demonstrates a bright future for portable baseball games.

When a new gaming platform is released, the sports games that are launched alongside it are typically stripped of a lot of the expected core features. Surprisingly, that isn't the case with MLB 12: The Show for the PlayStation Vita. Rather than simply release a quick baseball game in time for the upcoming season, SCEA's San Diego Studio has delivered a game that is nearly identical to its console big brother. While there is still room for improvement, the Vita's first baseball game shows potential.

In terms of features, the Vita version of The Show is almost on par with what is available on the PlayStation 3. Apart from the exclusion of the dynamic presentation and the new Diamond Dynasty mode, everything that is available on your PS3 is featured in your hands. This even includes the new pulse pitching and zone analog batting systems introduced earlier this year.

Pulse pitching is a new throwing system that replaces the pitching meter seen in previous games. In its place, there is a pulsating circle that needs to be stopped when at its smallest to get the most effective throws. Depending on a number of factors, the size and speed of the circle fluctuate. While it can be difficult to master and consistently stop the circle at its smallest, it's easy enough to grasp so that most players should be able to throw effectively in a short amount of time.

Although the pulse pitching system transfers well to the Vita, it is exploitable because of the system's touch screen. On the PS3, you need to hold the left analog stick in position for each throw, but on the Vita, you can easily move the pulsating circle with your finger and leave it where you want it for your pitch. Of course, the ability to mimic the same balancing act with the left analog stick is possible, but once you discover the ease of using your finger instead, there is no point in relying on anything else.

The other feature, zone batting, gives the batter more control in the strike zone. Rather than swing in the center of the strike zone, the zone batting system allows the batter to target specific spots when a pitch is thrown. If you notice that a pitcher tends to throw inside and you want to punish him, you can make it so that the batter swings with the most focus in that particular spot.

Don't get behind in the count.
Don't get behind in the count.

Though it's a fine system, only the truly dedicated are likely to make use of this feature. The learning curve for newcomers to the series makes trying to juggle readjusting your swing while grasping the timing a challenging process. Although this new approach to batting might click immediately for some, for the most part, the precision and timing needs to utilize this feature makes it a daunting prospect in the early going.

The Vita's touch features are used in various ways. Menu navigation is best used by swiping and touching the screen, but the option for standard button presses is available. On the field, those who use touch controls can use them for pitch selection, both as the pitcher and the batter. As mentioned, you can move the pulse pitching circle around with your finger, but you can also select a pitch by touching the corresponding one as it appears on the screen. The same goes for those who like to guess their pitches when at bat because both the ability to guess the specific pitch and its probable location are possible. Unfortunately, neither the actual act of throwing or hitting is achievable by touching the screen or even the touch pad. It is also not possible to manipulate the zone analog batting with your fingers.

By default, rear-touch-pad features are turned off, but when activated, they can be used for fielding and baserunning. When on defense, you can use the rear touch pad to throw balls to specific spots. On offense, the ability to advance runners or attempt steals can be done with simple swipes. All aspects of the touch pad are good and easy to get a handle of, but it is interesting that this aspect of the Vita is not turned on automatically.

Touch features are also turned off when playing online. Even with that extra layer removed, the online performance is on par with what you get on the PlayStation 3; meaning, it needs work. The same choppiness and moments where players stutter and the ball disappears prior to reaching the catcher occur on a regular basis. While finding matches is easy, those hoping for a hassle-free online experience with the Vita will need to wait just a little bit longer.

Regular A's games are never this packed.
Regular A's games are never this packed.

There are parts of The Show on the Vita that look good but a few areas don't live up to the unit's potential. Most players look decent, but some animations lack detail. On top of that, fans in the stands look extremely bland, including times where those in attendance clip through seats. From afar, stadiums have been designed well, but between half innings, graphical hiccups appear through the course of a game. When playing in Oakland's Coliseum, the camera pans to the club sections during breaks in the action, but the windows momentarily appear and disappear.

Although the dynamic presentation isn't available from the PS3 version, the three-man team of Matt Vasgersian, Dave Campbell, and Eric Karros is featured, and the result is on par with what you might expect from a real broadcast. Additionally, the ambient sounds--from cheering fans in the stands to noise from your dugout--can be heard loud and clear, as well as add to the atmosphere of a match.

Though this is the first appearance for the series on the PlayStation Vita, it is a fine introductory effort. While there are a few areas to improve upon, all signs indicate that future iterations of The Show for the Vita should be a joy to play. Casual fans may want to hold off, but if you're a fan of the series or if you want to play baseball wherever you are, you won't be disappointed, provided you don't want to play online.

The Good
Nearly every mode from the console game is included
Solid commentary and sounds from the crowd
Interesting pitching and hitting mechanics
The Bad
Some graphical issues
Touch controls are not fully utilized
Choppy online
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Former GameSpot Associate Editor, current Community Manager for EA SPORTS' FIFA Mobile.
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Avatar image for DJKrayz_basic

i bought both the Vita and PS3 versions and while the PS3 version is top notch, as it is every year, the Vita version isn't quite matching in details.. while its a fine baseball game on the Vita, it does need some fine-tuning and tweaking.. i would recommend the game to big baseball fans, however..

Avatar image for gamesrule9

this guy is terrible at reviewing.

Avatar image for Generic_Dude

This game is better than fair, but that the reviewer is not American, and apparently not Latin American, the likelihood that he's really into baseball is low. If you're not really into baseball, do not buy this game. Is there room for improvement? Sure, but it's undoubtedly the best game of baseball I've ever played on a handheld. In short, baseball lovers: BUY THIS GAME.

Avatar image for ender1042

OK. I don't normally post comments on horrible reviews, but when I do it is typically on Gamespot. Reviews are fairly consistent on Gamespot. It seems this review, like many others that aren't 9 or above, is just trying to find the flaws. It is picking apart all of the small items that really aren't that bad instead of comparing the work as a whole. Its being critical for critical's sake. It is trying to persuade me not to enjoy the game I bought that I enjoy playing, and I totally disagree with Marko's review. This game is miles above anything released previously on the PSP or DS. It is actually on par with the ps3 version. I enjoy playing this baseball game more than any previously released on any other system. For me, it scratches an itch. I've bought MLB The Show and Marvel vs. Capcom 3. I have downloaded the demo for Unit 13. I can't say that I've had a bad experience with anything the Vita offers. Gamespot seems to be bent on killing the Vita with reviews that distract the reader from any real issues. Most of the issues in these reviews are valid points, but shouldn't warrant the low scores throughout. The review staff seems to be way too picky and need to just have some fun. Maybe Gamespot has too many games to review and not enough time to 'play' them?

Avatar image for ender1042

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Avatar image for TonyDanzaFan

With that said, the actual review was terrible. The guy barely went into any detail. It seems like he played an hour of it, looked at the features, and then wrote this review.

Avatar image for TonyDanzaFan

The game deserved lower. Not a good game at all. Framerate is terrible. No option for anything other than fast play. Full animation and commentary for taking out a pitcher, and bringing one in, yet nothing, NOTHING for any homerun, including a walkoff. Not even a replay. You hit a home run and it is supposed to feel special. Analog controls are useless, the sticks are too sensitive. Luckily touch screen pitching is great, and timing hitting still works. Overall a decent sports launch game. But these improvements need to be made to next years game. I still like the cloud, and playing RTTS on the Vita is nice, but the lack of animations sucks.

Avatar image for sunghyun26

Imagine how VITA games will look in 2or4 years, even better! I'm gonna wait untill a real killer title gets released on the VITA though, remember the PS3 had not much to play at the time of release but look at it now, one of the best console ever.

Avatar image for MonsieurEek

The score seems justified by the text and the description as "fair." It's a better-than-average entry into a yearly sports franchise that has some issues likely due to being the first developed for a new console with an obvious hard deadline, but it's still very promising. If you can tell from the text that the game is right for you clearly enough to complain about the score, then what's the problem?

Avatar image for theJBlounge

(This is admittedly nitpicky) The graphics look cluttered with all the HUD elements. Of course some is the portable screen but I hope next year they shrink some of the overlay graphics or make it more transparent. But either way, it's a good sign for the MLB series. The PSP1 games were starting to look really dated.

Avatar image for Good-Smurf

Even though I don't like MLB the show franchise but for this game I can easily give it 7.5 for their effort alone. Later to be butchered by Gamespot for a game that have potential but only got 6.5 And what's wrong with added touch controls it's not like they forced you to use it.

Avatar image for Granpire

As someone usually defends and agrees with Gamespot's harsh review policy, I'm still not getting a 6.5 "fair" vibe from this review.

Avatar image for Deadman_est1982

Another example of why I don't pay attention to Gamespot's scores. It's a great baseball game for on the go. I personally give it a 8.5 out of 10.

Avatar image for ahpuck

I'm not one to argue over a review score. but, seriously, I'm reading the review and wondering where the heck did you pull that 6.5 from?

Avatar image for snake63

Gamepot has given almost every Vita game a low rating that it deserves. They are bias for the 3DS. MLB The Show deserves a 7.5. It is a good baseball game not great.

Avatar image for KingBobCat

Another skewed, head-scratching review from the gaming site that gave "Diner Dash" a 9.1 (look it up).....

Avatar image for Elslav

Its a fantastic game.. and the fact that its being compared to the PS3 version really should tell you how good it looks and plays in its handheld state. The online for sure is botchy and has been for years with the show, but if I had to rate this game as how it plays and looks on a handheld I would say 8/10 for sure with points taken away for choppy online.

Avatar image for anticusho1984

I think people is not getting the way a game review is taken, is not just if you like it or not, many reviewers from GS have given 6 or less to a game even if they love it, but a professional approach is completely different form taste, and GS must of the time give a low score to the games because they have a lot of time of experience so I think is a good source besides a review for me is just a guide my personal taste is different, I have loved games with score of 4.0 and hated editor's choice games, so everybody should accept different opinions and just play what they like

Avatar image for white_wind

"Issues aside, MLB 12: The Show demonstrates a bright future for portable baseball games." it shows promise, lets destroy it by giving it a below average score.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat

@killinrod Or maybe they are just that unremarkable? :roll: Many of these games depended on the hype of the VITA to sell.

Avatar image for bonander

I would have given this at least a 7.5, if I had to be harsh. Though being that I haven't played a baseball video game since R.B.I. Baseball on the NES, I doubt I have the experience to accurately review one. All in all, I was very impressed with this game. The Road to the Show is one of the most fun career modes I've played in any sports game. Again, I don't play many sports games (only played NCAA Football, Madden, and UFC) so I lack the experience to compare it to others. I really only picked this up because I was starved for more PSV games. I don't regret getting it all. I'm having a blast playing it.

Avatar image for killinrod

Once again Gamespot is at it again. I love all the Vita hate. Sony finally comes out with a unique and powerful portable with some excellent launch and launch window games, and Gameslop does what they do best and rates every game horribly. Every Vita game that I have seen reviewed has been rated against its console brethren. Uncharted is compared to the PS3 version, and so is MLB. How about you rate it based on its own merits. As these games are portable and are trying to give you console like experiences. Every time I read one of your articles or reviews it makes me laugh. I guess that is why I keep coming back for more. I guess the only good reviews we will see are for Halo 4, and maybe some Wii U garbage game that comes out later. Keep up the good work though, I love a good laugh. LOL!!

Avatar image for Sidewinder-7

Ya finalcross I understand you have to deal with limitations with a handheld game, but that quality is really rough and I'd recommend if someone wanted to see better vid to check youtube. The game looks great but there is some slowdown but luckily they are during shots and angles where the ball is not in play, like hitter walk ons (even though they just appear don't walk).

Avatar image for chadwick1343

This review is absurd. Almost all gameplay intact of the ps3 version, with minor graphical changes and added touch adds up to a 6.5?! Really?

Avatar image for finalcross

@phillymike77 - Sony hasn't release a direct capture unit to grab footage from a Vita. Our video team made a rig where an HD camera hovers over a Vita (you can see my hands in the videos). Better to have some footage than no footage.

Avatar image for Sidewinder-7

BTW, not sure what they used to make their video, but the game looks nothing like that. The still pics are a lot closer then that washed out looking video.

Avatar image for JustPlainLucas

Hated this game. Tried to get used to it, but traded it in. That hasn't happened to me in years.

Avatar image for Sidewinder-7

It almost seems like they review Vita games as if an 8 is the top you can get, their own review does not justify a 6.5 out of 10.

Avatar image for Sidewinder-7

"Touch controls are not fully utilized" This is a plus to prob 99% of Vita users. You don't need to much up your screen when you have 2 sticks a D pad and 6 buttons. This is a very good game, plays just like it does on the ps3. 8.5.

Avatar image for painpas

As far as handheld baseball games go is this game better than the show PSP titles or is this game being directly compared to the home console version? I really want to buy this game because I loved the PSP versions. Can someone answer this question or is it obviously better because it is being compared to the home console version in the first place?

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:
    Baseball, Simulation, Sports, Team-Based
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    No Descriptors