MLB 12: The Show Review (PS Vita)

Developer: SCE San Diego Studio

Publisher: SCE

Platform: PS Vita, PS3

Release Date: March 6, 2012

Genre: Sports

Players: Single Player/1-on-1 Competitive Online

Rating: E

-Geoff Barry

Frustrating, to say the least.

In Empty Wallet Gamer’s first sports game review (and Vita game!!!), I was hoping to put up a solid title with a relatively high rating. Unfortunately the Vita’s coming out party to the sports world falls flat. Smooth controls get held back by frustrating execution. There isn’t a specific level that’s made for getting used to the controls. Either you’re playing on too easy of a setting, or an extremely difficult level that would have a saint losing patience. The Show is a perfect title because the game is presented well, but in the end in turns out to be just for looks.

I was very excited to be able to play baseball on the Vita. While I was going on my vacation revolved around baseball, I only found it fitting that I had baseball in my hands. While figuring out Vita’s controls I spent the early part of my time with The Show playing exhibition games on the easiest setting. I enjoyed what I was presented with, but didn’t find it challenging enough. All I had to do was select pitch and location while on the mound, and didn’t have to execute the pitch at all. On the other side of the plate I just had aim my swing and press the swing button when I found a pitch I liked. It wounded up being too easy, and after a handful of lopsided wins I decided to tackle on Franchise Mode and move up to the next difficulty. 

I love the pitching controls on the Vita. While placing my location with the touchscreen, the pitch meter would require precision timing in order to execute an effective pitch. If I made a mistake, or the hitter guessed what I was throwing I’d have to suffer the consequences. Sometimes guys just didn’t have “it” on the mound, and that is completely acceptable and realistic. SCE got the pitching controls right, but I cannot say the same for the hitting controls. 

It seemed like no matter what, I either scored zero or one run every single game. I basically hoped that I could hit a home run with one of my Red Sox sluggers with guys on base, otherwise the offensive effort was futile. Even when I’d line a pitch up and get my timing just right it’d end up as a hard ground ball to an infielder. Rarely could I string together consecutive hits in an inning and score some runs. If a minor league pitcher surrendered a walk and a couple of hits to my guys, all of a sudden he became Justin Verlander when the bases were loaded. I couldn’t get a big hit, or even a productive out for that matter. With the bases chucked and less than two outs, the result of my attempt to drive in a run usually ended with three strikes, and likely a couple of unbalanced swings. I’ve never experienced a baseball game that has hated me so much for trying to score runs. Bloop fly balls never land, line drives are always caught, and every pitcher seems to know how to throw three or four pitches at a time for strikes. 

Outside of the most important aspect of the game, the rest of the options were very good. Franchise Mode was just as deep with the Vita copy as its PS3 brethren. I could scout and draft prospects, control the contracts of my players and coaches, and look out for trade possibilities on the trade block. Guys dealt with injuries and had to be replaced by either bench players or an important call-up from the minors. It was good to see I didn’t lose much going from major console to handheld.

Road to the Show was also added as a mode on the Vita version. The popular ‘create your own player’ module was just as impressive on the Vita as the PS3. A solid improvement in RttS was your player getting to start immediately at the Double-A level. No more wasting time trying to prove yourself in the lowly minor league level, as you start earning playing time right away. I was impressed with how much detail could go into such a tiny drive.

The graphics were very superb for a handheld, and the tracklist can’t go unnoticed. I also love the cross-platform capability that The Show features. I was right in the middle of a game on my PS3 before I got in the car and rode down home for a couple hours. I simply switched the game from the PS3 to the Vita and finished the game on the ride down. The commentators are usually spot on, but tend to get a little repetitive at times. Even the timing gets thrown off on occasion. For instance, multiple times per game, one of the announcers will start talking about how the pitcher is missing his spots, then the batter will fly out lazily, and the guy keeps going on about that at-bat even as the new hitter has stepped up to the plate. 

In the end The Show did slightly impress. The presentation is excellent. It reminds me of actually watching a live game at times. The depth of the playable modes is surprising, and the execution of those modes is even more shocking. However there are too many flaws in key areas that have to knock it down a few pegs. The excruciating difficulty to win, the unrealistic batting results, and fact that the strike-zone gets shrunk when on the mound and expanded while batting are a few examples of how The Show’s performance is subpar.

The Pros:

  • Great graphics
  • Pitching controls
  • Deep Game Modes

     The Cons:

  • Impossible to score runs
  • Unbalanced difficulty settings

Verdict: 75%

MLB 12: The Show- Vita Gameplay

Just like Geoff said, this is EWG’S very first sports game review as well as PS Vita game review. You can say Geoff is our sports man now. Would you pick up The Show for PlayStation Vita or stick with the PS3?