Video Game Review: MLB ’12 The Show (Vita)
Ron Washington wants you to bring in Darren Oliver…
For years now I’ve been confining my baseball reviews to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, but with the launch of the PlayStation Vita comes a portable version of MLB ’12 The Show that I just had to check out. We already know its big brother sits comfortably atop the throne of console baseball; now the question is whether or not that excellence translates to the small screen.
It’s impressive that the Vita version offers such an array of options with all of the traditional hitting and pitching setups available along with both newcomers — pulse pitching and zone analog hitting. As you’d expect, it’s not nearly as easy to hit or pitch a baseball on such a small screen, and as such the game doesn’t feel as responsive as its counterpart. Personally, I found meter pitching and zone-based hitting (sans analog sticks) to deliver the best portable experience. There are also some rudimentary touch controls implemented, though they feel on the clunky side.
Before I get to the nitpicking, allow me to say this: MLB ’12 The Show on Vita is by far the best looking portable baseball game ever made. Player animations remain first rate and games played on the system still look like real baseball. That being said, there are some issues.
Player models look a little off… maybe even outdated — I mostly noticed it with long-haired players so perhaps it’s a limitation of the hardware. Stadiums and crowds have become highly pixilated, and most of the game’s presentation elements have been stripped away. Yes, games move faster as you pretty much go from pitch to pitch, but it undermines the realism that the PS3 version nails. It’s also worth noting that created players in Road to the Show (RttS) have very little variety, and that makes it feel like you’re facing the same guys over and over again.
Another byproduct of the overall streamlining is a lack of commentary. Matt Vasgersian and company aren’t the most entertaining trio with a full complement of lines so you can imagine what a pared down version sounds like. In-game effects remain solid.
Without question, the best thing about the Vita version of MLB ’12 The Show is that Sony has managed to keep all of the most critical elements that make playing a game on the PlayStation 3 so much fun. The ball physics here work great, and that means you’re still seeing a tremendous amount of variety in the outcome of struck balls.
Updated versions of both Franchise and Road to the Show are also available here (full details on the modes can be found in my review of the PS3 release), which ensures there’s plenty of content to be enjoyed. One mode that didn’t make the trip, however, is the Diamond Dynasty; given that was the signature addition this year it’s a bit surprising it’s not included.
I would argue the biggest selling point for long-time fans of the series is cross-platform integration, which allows you to save data from your PlayStation 3 to a cloud and then download it to your Vita for continued play. As noted in the PS3 review, I was thoroughly impressed by how seamlessly everything comes together as I routinely alternated between modes on PS3 and Vita throughout the review process. It’s not an absolute must have, but if you like baseball and have both systems it’s damn cool.
While not quite a substitute for the PlayStation 3 version, MLB ’12 The Show on the Vita is a fantastic complement. If you’re a serious baseball fan this belongs in your library.