MLB 12: The Show – Hits and Misses

Posted March 15th, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Any review of MLB 12: The Show is going to be quite similar to those done for past iterations of the series. There’s a consistency to what The Show does well – just as there is with where it tends to falter. That certainly holds true with MLB 12 which delivers top notch authenticity, graphics, and depth while failing to provide an acceptable online play experience. 


MLB 12 plays like The Show everyone is used and remains somewhat inaccessible in nature – it can be unrelentingly difficult at times. That’s baseball though and The Show is as “sim” as they come. Hit variety has been enhanced somewhat due to better ball physics. It’s nothing dramatic but a worthwhile enhancement that pays off over the long-term. The batter-pitcher battle feels strategically realistic and engaging, animations are excellent, and SCEA provides a number of options in controls, cameras, and difficulty levels to help each user tailor the experience for themselves as well as possible. Results always feel realistic and organic and that is the most important thing gameplay can offer.

The Show remains the most respectful representation of a sport in gaming. The atmosphere, sounds, and pacing makes it feel more like baseball than a video game attempting to replicate it. Enhancements in presentation are subtle but notable such as cuts to a managers in the dugout. The biggest disappointment is that SCEA didn’t get in the new 10 team playoffs or division tie-breaker games in for release.

The Show has been arguably one of if not the best looking team sports series this generation. MLB 12 is visually stunning with improved lighting, detailed stadiums, realistic player models and faces, and a wide variety of natural looking animations. The crowd is probably the weakest aspect but all things considered the game represents itself with exceptional visuals.

•Depth of Modes
Though little has changed with Franchise mode and Road to the Show they both provide immense value and combined with ‘Diamond Dynasty’ there is a commendable level of variety amongst them. There are some issues, like the game start times in Franchise mode, but otherwise they are solid as expected. For those who pick up the game on both the PS3 and Vita the ability to transfer Franchise and RTTS saves between the two systems is really well executed and beneficial.


•Online Play
To the surprise of few online play with MLB 12 is excruciatingly bad. Debilitating lag often strikes, disconnects along with “traffic delays” are common, and being tied to servers with ‘Diamond Dynasty’ has meant results aren’t always being registered. The lag favors pitching with even the best online players struggling to hit and produce runs. Adding insult to injury SCEA introduced an “Online Pass” this year which means it’s now considered to be a value add-on. At this point if online play is important to someone it’s well known that The Show will disappoint there. That it is still considered a premiere product despite such a huge portion of the game being severely deficient is a testament to how well it does everything else.

•Lack of Advancement
Siphoning off development time to work on the Vita version could be costly for SCEA. There isn’t much new with MLB 12 that will be readily apparent to anyone but the ultra hardcore crowd. It’s the clear reason why the company avoided putting out a demo. ‘Pulse Pitching’ is notable for its ability to make pitching more challenging despite inherent simplicity and differentiate pitchers better but it can be almost physically painful or nauseating to focus in on (that effect is lessened the more camera angles are distanced from the plate). ‘Diamond Dynasty’ is conceptually sound but poorly executed, commentary is dry and dated, collision detection between players is still absent, and loading times are still quite lengthy even with a larger hard drive install.

Previous coverage:
Diamond Dynasty Impressions, Online Issues Prevalent, Loading Time Analysis

The Show is the most reliable of all sport gaming franchises. Consumers can know what to expect making it an easy purchase for those who have any interest in baseball – and though online play remains miserable even that has become totally predictable. While that confidence in the product is comforting the dwindling sense that SCEA is providing sufficient reason to buy year-to-year has never been more apparent than with MLB 12. Whether The Show has become a victim of its own success is arguable but those are the circumstances that must be accounted for going forward.

  • Cronan

    I didnt buy it cause they basically admitted they didnt do much with the game because of Vita and not putting out a demo. I got bored with MLB11 and more of the same just would have been a waste of money. Not that I dislike the Show but I feel like I need something different now (not 2K lol).

    • Amen_Ra

      I agree 100%. The Show is a good game, but I didn’t see a single aspect that made me want to buy the game this year.  I”m sitting out until next year when they add in the correct playoffs, Astros in the American League, and an enhanced Franchise mode (so they claim).

      • Sdwinder

        Ignorance is not bliss.  Play the game before having an opinion.

        • Mike

          Seriously, MLB 12 is a good step up from MLB 11.  The gameplay has completely changed cause of the physics.  It’s nothing that words or videos can convey clearly.  You have to play the game.

  • colts44

    Is it a good buy for someone who skipped MLB 11?

    • Jarod

      Well, the way it sounds 11 and 12 are basically the same so you might as well go with the cheaper one. I have 11 and have no intentions of buying 12 so unless you’re a hardcore gamer I would suggest MLB 11

      • Keith.

        This is a completely ignorant comment. The TruBroadcast Presentation and new ball physics alone make a world of difference from 11.

        The game sets the bar for realistic gameplay, TV presentation, depth (Move is really well done, and I’ve always liked RTTS for a change of pace), and the Cross Over Play with Vita, which is a MUST for every sports game going forward. I’ve been playing more Vita than PS3, but couldn’t be happier with either version.

        • Skihawks

          Agree. The game is different. Also it has the Miami Marlins and updated uniforms. Still no Tigers Stadium.

        • Amen_Ra

          Keith, it’s the same game with a few graphical upgrades.  I’d buy it if I skipped on ’11 but otherwise I’d pass.

          • Keith.

            Not sure how big of a baseball fan you are.  I’m a huge baseball fan, and the difference between last year’s game and this year’s is night and day, IMHO.

          • Amen_Ra

            I’m a big fan of baseball, The Show, and especially the The Show Franchise mode.  Knowing that year 2 of my franchise would be screwed is what kept me from purchasing the game this year.  I just can’t justify the purchase.  I knock Madden and other games for the same things.  I don’t buy games just for minimal annual updates….well actually I do that for NCAA Football but nothing else.

          • Keith.

            I hear ya man, but if you’re a big baseball fan I do think you’re missing out.  

          • Mike

            Just admit that you’re bitter they didn’t do what you what in franchise, but don’t deprive yourself of MLB 12 if you’re a baseball fan cause of that.

          • Sdwinder

            Ignorant comment.  Gameplay alone is much improved.

        • Jo Jo

          I totally agree. This game is different and much better that last year’s version. 

        • Nice try SCEA Rep.

  • AR-Ban

    this game got boring and sony got complacent. need real competition to come back.

  • SENZ

    Well, the game plays as realistic as a baseball video game can get. It’s really,really good.

    However, having the same stale commentary for like the 5th or 6th year in a row, when it’s been the worst part of the game for all 5 or 6 of those years is inexcusable anymore. If it’s not totally overhauled in MLB 13, it will be the first year I won’t buy it. I bought it this year mainly because of the Vita/PS3 cross play, which is really useful. Since I have the 12 version now to play on Vita, I won’t buy a 13 version without totally new commentary.

    Collision detection is not that big of a deal really, it only pops up on occasion but really doesn’t effect the game in a big way, because it still simulates at times a collision because the 2nd baseman will flip over and not be able to throw. So as long as it’s simulated like that, it’s not a big deal.

    They need to work also on CPU AI discipline, because the AI batters almost NEVER swing at anything outside of the zone. Occasionaly you’ll see it, but not even close to the level of real MLB players.

    Other than that though, the game is damn near perfect. It’s currently the best simulation of a sport in video games. No question about it. If Madden and NCAA Football could make a simulation this true to life, everyone would shit bricks. Sadly it’ll never happen as long as EA is tied to it.

  • Skopin

    Honestly, I don’t find the commentary as bad as everyone else. Is it outdated? Yes, but the play-by-play is the best I’ve ever heard in a video game, by far. Where it really suffers is the color commentary. It is painfully obvious that all 3 commentators were not in the booth together, as there is almost no back and forth between them. But honestly, I am happy with the way Matt Vasgersan (sp?) calls the game. 

    • Sdwinder

      Well said!

    • Very well said. Its not so much that the commentary makes that much of a difference. It just sends a message to the people who spend their hard earned $60 on their product. When they don’t update the audio, it makes me think they don’t care about me or their product.

  • I disagree about the load times. I think they are worlds better this year. It’s actually been one of my favorite new features! ha.

    • Alj1

      Totally agree with you about load times. The days of being able to eat a sandwich between RTTS games are thankfully over!!

  • Clubguru35

    I keep seeing people write about how the show is boring cause guess what it is BORING for all the good that it is its down right boring to play pasta i’m sorry but they have used the same generic animations at the plate for batters for 3 yrs now.I don’t hate mlb the show but I have to say that mlb2k12 is more fun to play people trust me when I tell ya this year give it a chance it has some stupid animations in it that need to be cleaned up but i guarantee you won’t be bored.The pitcher batter interface in mlb2k12 is a joy to play and that’s the meat of any baseball game experience.They don’t over use generic animations on players at the plate I swear if i’m not mistaken almost every player has his authentic routine at the plate(if not damn near close to it which the SHOW doesn’t do at all) and it’s awesome to watch and ill take seeing players do their real routines at the plate(that’s authenticity) over a cutscene of the coach in the dugout.The commentary in mlb2k12 let’s just say just like mlb the show graphics can’t be touched by mlb 2k12 well mlb2k12’s commentary can’t be touched by mlb the show.Mlb2k12 has the new playoff structure in the game that mlb the show doesn’t but let’s not praise mlb2k12 for having the foresight to put that in, mlb the show didn’t do it.The online in mlb2k12 works,mlb the shows doesn’t but let’s not bash mlb the show for having a second yr in a row where the online has problems again but nobody had any problem bashing nba2k12 for it’s online problems this yr and making a big deal about it.Bottom line for 60 bucks Id rather play a game that’s fun and while it may not do the best job of representing the sport of baseball but at least this yr it does a good enough job to be playable and fun rather than a game that’s 75% the same from last yr with great graphics and still boring,graphics aren’t everything.

    • Skopin

       I’m going to just go out on a limb and say you haven’t actually played either game. I have already played MLB 12 more than I played MLB 11, and I got MLB 11 on release day. The differences are sometimes subtle, but the game itself is a huge improvement.

      Are you really saying that the batting animations for MLB 2k12 are better? Please, by all means, show me a single one that is better than the Show. 2k’s batting stances are all the same. As are the step throughs. When batting in the Show, I can actually feel a difference in each player and how long it takes them to swing. Not to mention the animations are smooth and the transitions between animations, for the most part, are damn good. —Albert Pujols —Matt Kemp —Video Games

      That’s Albert Pujols and Matt Kemp, both in real life, showing the batting stance and swing. The third video shows both MLB 12 the Show and MLB 2k12. Tell me which one looks more like the real life counterparts.

      The weakest animations in the past for the Show has been pitching, and they have really done a great job on those this year. It actually looks like the pitchers are throwing hard this year, unlike past games.

      I will say the color commentary in 2k12 is better than the Show, but the play-by-play in the Show is better than any video game ever. Obviously, they need to re-do most of the commentary and get all 3 guys in the booth together to actually make it sound good, but it’s not as bad as you make it out to be (comparing it to the graphics difference in 2k12 vs the Show).

      The major point that you have against MLB 12 the Show, or rather the only valid point, is in the online. It is unacceptable for them to not have a solid online experience at this point in time, especially after introducing Online Pass. For me, it’s not a big deal because I don’t play online; I just use it for rosters and things like that, but it’s definitely a major downfall for the game.

      • Clubguru35

        it’s funny i go to the 3rd link you put up for youtube about pujols at the plate and look at the 2 comments right below that video that agree with the same thing that I am saying. when i say at the plate routines it isn’t just the swing it’s everything they do. mlb the show has the swings down but in that video after pujols swings and misses the first time he goes down and scoops up a piece of dirt which he doesn’t do in real life.I’m not saying the animation’s in mlb the show arent smoother or more realistic im saying they are generic and happen the same over multiple players and in mlb2k12 almost every major player in the game has their own routine at the plate though they might not be as smooth at least  their there and It’s more realistic to me cause I look and say hey that’s exactly what he does in real life at the plate that doesn’t happen in mlb the show not hating on mlb the show but it’s the truth.

        • Skopin

           What comments are you talking about? I just read through all 4 pages and nothing was mentioned about the batter walk-ups or stances.

          Yes, The Show does have some repeat animations, but they look real, and the batting stances and swings are noticeably different. 2k has walk-ups (for big name players, but not everyone), but their batting stances and swings, which you see much more often, are generic. I would rather see the differentiation when they are actually playing than see it in the walk-up, which I skip through more often than not.

    • Sdwinder

      Geez, that is like saying “trust me, 2 inches is still really fun!”.  

      Better to be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.

      • Clubguru35

        that’s a good one but if mlb the show is 9 inches mlb2k12 is like 6 inches which  according to a lot of females i know isn’t that bad …

  • HustlinOwl

    Pasta why dont you try playing online before you comment on it lol, Ive tried getting you to play me and never respond

    • Keith.

      Lol — busted!  

      How in the world can somebody say “online play with MLB 12 is excruciatingly bad” when this shows they’ve never even played (or if they have, it was on the day the game came out)?

      • Baseball22

         the online still sucks and is laggy.  I know you’re somehow loyal to The Show and thus rip on 2k at every chance, but c’mon.  2K really does some things better such as online.  The show is definitely better, but try to show less bias in your posts, otherwise people won’t respect your opinion.

        • Keith.

          You got the wrong guy, brother.  I love 2k basketball and football, and just haven’t gotten around to playing 2k baseball this year (no time due to playing The Show on PS3/Vita).  So, you haven’t (and won’t) see me saying anything negative about 2k baseball since I haven’t played it and, in fact, I’ve read good things about the game on other forums.

    • mcmax3000

      The website doesn’t track all games played in all modes. I played four or five games of MLB 11 online but if you had looked me up on the site last year, my page looked exactly the same as Pasta’s page.

      He may or may not have actually played it online but that page doesn’t prove anything.

  • FEASports

    Pasta have you heard anything about an online lag fix.  I kind of doubt it will happen, I don’t know if it can be fixed.

  • Pirates1fan

    Thrilled with this game. I think load times are much better all the way around, but my favorite aspect of that has been the offseason with road to the show. It goes through much quicker now. But the ball physics, game sounds (ball hitting the bat and ball hitting the glove), and things like a few teams changing their logos, and obviously the Marlins changing everything, it is a worthy purchase. Now, I am a hardcore fan, so it is easier for me to buy every year, but I think it is a worthy purchase for anyone who enjoys a realilistic baseball experiance!

  • Redneckchev

    I started to read this article but only got thru a few lines before i realized how FUCKING dumb the guy that wrote this is. (Hit variety has been enhanced somewhat) SERIOUSLY. The ball physics alone make this game the best i’ve ever played. Some (acually MOST people) need to just fall of the face of the EARTH.

    • realdodger

      this game has gottenn worse this year. hiitng is a joke. it will read, perfect timing, good contact but you ground out repeatedly…online play has gone down hill terribly! i was never a fan of gp but this year its way harder to hir without it. they wanna make this game realistic but they use gp???? that makes no sense. its sad that the only way to have a competitive offensive game is to try n throw ks and keep gp on…i give 11 a 67 out of ten, if it werent for lagging id give it an 8, this year 2012 is terrible hitting wise although connection and lag has improved alot, the hitting or should i say lack of hitting makes me rate this game a 6 out of 10 ea sports please make a game next year…mvp 05 is still hands down the best game ever made

      • realdodger

        and if u havent played the game, dont bash it, you just sound ignorant and u have no say…

      • Redneckchev

         Learn how to play baseball than 🙂

  • triguous

    Speaking of authenticity, does anyone know how, if possible, to edit settings so that not every reliever has four pitches when they may only have two, like Craig Kimbrel. He doesn’t throw a change-up, yet he can in the game. 

    • Beatsmith82

      Not for nothing but if you haven’t played MLB the show 12 how the FUCK can u reccomend not buyin it.kill yourself dude

      • triguous

        Either you didn’t read my comment or you replied to the wrong comment. Or you can’t read. Whichever the case, grow up.

  • MLB 12 The Show is a fantastic game in every respect except the online play.  The author of this article hit the nail on the head.  It is beyond frustrating how every year I think this will be the one in which they improve the feature.  However, since the Show has a monopoly on the marketplace (2k12 is horrendous) they will fail each year to improve on this feature of the game.  The designers don’t truly care about customer feedback, otherwise they would have addressed the complaints of consumers a long time ago.  The only hope is truly another company such as EA get involved and make a game that challenges The Show’s game content and finally regulates and properly manages the online play.  Until that day, I am at the mercy of their shitty servers.

  • Oh and what about more classic stadiums?!?!?! I’m tired of playing at the POLO GROUNDS.