#7 of 2012 – MLB 12: The Show

Posted December 24th, 2012 at 11:15 am


There has been no more consistent sports series this generation than SCEA’s MLB: The Show. It has shined in gameplay, depth, and authenticity while struggling mightily along the way in areas such as online play and commentary. MLB 12: The Show was no different than the titles that preceded it. A lack of general advancement and some post-release issues were notable but those satisfied with the product in the past likely remained that way. 

The ranking of games in the best of 2012 list is based on number of factors including the personal amount of enjoyment had with a particular title, whether advertised features were fully delivered, post-release support, community interaction and communication, overall gameplay experience, feature set, and online play performance. Again this is largely a personal take and one with the advantage of tracking the games beyond just the release frame and does not act as some sort of recap of those with the highest scores on Metacritic. The analysis is weighted heavily towards those high in fun factor while considering them as a whole and compared relatively to the field.

The introduction of analog controls in MLB 11 (which finished 4th for 2011) helped provide a sense of newness that had been lacking for the franchise. SCEA went away from that for pitching – though keeping all sorts of options available for users to select which is always appreciated – with a default of the new “Pulse Pitching”. That feature did make pitching more challenging and differentiated talent better but was almost physically painful and nauseating to use. Otherwise people would be hard pressed to identify major changes to the game from MLB 11 to 12. That’s probably why no pre-release demo was offered.

What appears to have been the biggest reason for that was the decision by SCEA to divert development time for the PS3 version to the Vita version of the game. A Franchise mode overhaul and upgrade to the lighting system were among the things sacrificed in the process. It may have made sense at the time, not knowing that the Vita was going to tank, but shifting resources from a version that sells in the hundreds of thousands to one that at best would move only tens of thousands was a questionable call to make. The potential reward was simply outweighed by the risk. Sales of the PS3 version have now fallen off for two straight years after peaking with MLB 10.

The sense that not enough was done with a product has most recently hurt the NCAA Football series and may be starting to affect The Show. The tolerance level though is higher here as the game excels in several areas – outside of online play – so most have found themselves satisfied regardless. How long that feeling can last though from individual to individual is the question and SCEA may have to do something more drastic to avoid getting stuck in a rut heading into the PS4. Some new features and satisfactory online play would probably even be enough for now.

Of course the standout areas of the game – the actual gameplay, options, graphics, and authenticity remain excellent. Competition or not that deserves recognition as the company has continued to build on its strong points. There is no discounting how well The Show produces a true sim baseball experience. Better ball physics, a more strategic and engaging batter-pitcher battle, and new animations were somewhat subtle but worthwhile improvements.

Diamond Dynasty, an attempt at an “Ultimate Team” mode of their own was conceptually sound but poorly executed. The 10 team playoffs and division tie-breaker game did not make the cut despite the competition getting them in. Start times for games in Franchise mode were wrong and patches attempted to fix that and other problems but caused severe new issues of their own. The Online Home Run Derby feature was promoted for the game, missing for four months, and then introduced as a promotional stunt. Commentary was dry and dated (well behind that of the competition) and load times remained extensive even with the ability to install a large chunk to the hard drive.

Beyond all that though online play continues to be the achilles’ heel for The Show. Even the NBA 2K series, long having accompanied this series in level of online ineptitude, has been able to improve performance leaving The Show as the only major sports series to constantly ignore such a significant aspect of the product. Even when severe lag and disconnects didn’t plague attempts at games they heavily favored pitching creating a frustrating and all around unenjoyable time. To add insult to injury an “Online Pass” was introduced this year.

For both the good and the bad MLB 12: The Show continued the stretch of steady and consistent releases while easily remaining the best baseball game on the market. It’s arguably the safest sports game for consumers to buy because they know exactly what they’ll be getting. Gameplay, depth of modes, and authenticity will be exceptional while some presentation elements and online play will be undoubtedly poor.

Year in Review
Much more to come throughout the month!
•#7 of 2012: MLB 12: The Show
•#8 of 2012: NHL 13
•#9 of 2012: NCAA Football 13
•#10 of 2012: NFL Blitz
•Vote for the 2012 Community Choice Awards
•Revisiting the Top Stories of 2012: Lawsuits Faced by Electronic Arts
•Revisiting the Top Stories of 2012: Disingenuous Marketing and Unfulfilled Features
•Revisiting the Top Stories of 2012: The Disastrous Road Towards NBA Live 13

  • Jake

    Hitting is just too hard. Look at all the user reviews around the web a lot of people feel that way. Even when patient and timing a swing well just seems like theres so rarely the reward for it instead its hit hard right at someone or popped up.

    • mcmax3000

      You can tweak the sliders, and options to eventually make it easier, and more rewarding, but it definitely takes A LOT more work to get it to that point than it should.

  • elson6

    ive stopped buying the show until i read that theyve actually fixed online. its almost 2013 and they cant handle a 1v1 game lol and they dont seem to care

  • mcmax3000

    I would put this MUCH higher, but I can understand why many people were expressing disappointment in this year’s game, so I don’t think a lower spot is necessarily unwarranted, even if it’s not the spot I would’ve given it.

    • Nothing wrong with that. Each individual will value things differently.

  • dave travis

    Needs to be way way higher and I know for sure no football game this yesr was better than the show ….thats for sure

    • Keith.

      Amen to all of that.

  • Keith.

    Best sports game on the market, and with the exception of NBA2k13, it’s not even close.

    What a joke that we’re going to see Madden and Tiger Woods — both are poster childs for mediocrity — ahead of The Show on this list.

    • Tiger didn’t make this top 10. And like I’ve said every year, you can’t put out a game that’s essentially half broken and expect it to be heralded by all.

      • Keith.

        “Half broken”? Lol. Get back to me when your PSN profile shows you’ve played a game.

        • I played plenty of online games. Also Diamond Dynasty online games. And it’s not just my opinion of online but drawn from others as well. I never base my evaluation of performance solely on my own experience but couple that with reports from others. The stats were damning – for how the game plays online – along with all the disconnects and lag that everyone experienced (not just myself). All that was widely recognized with MLB 12.

          • Keith.

            Why does your online record say 0-0? Just curious.

          • Beats me. Might be related to the problem at the time where games results weren’t posting (I remember this about Diamond Dynasty don’t recall if it was with regular ranked games). A bunch of games too weren’t completed due to disconnects or quits cause of the lag. I know I did have some games posted cause I looked at the stats from them after.

          • Keith.

            Disconnects count — I had one of those myself, when some clown kept trying to steal home on me (which also is an example why I rarely play online — and why I think online is highly overrated when it comes to sports games).

    • I was hoping with the new comment process we would be spared endless attacks on EA. The games you dislike are EA and the games you like are not EA – shocking. I don’t have a PS3 so I can’t comment on MLB 12, but I do think NBA 2K13 is a great game – but I think Madden 13 is fun and a step in the right direction as well. And NHL 13 will not see my console until the lockout is over – I’m guessing never.

      Nevertheless, it has a been a pretty unimpressive and stagnant year for sports games all around, from EA and everybody else. There aren’t a lot of choices to put together a top 10 sports game list this year because of the dearth of titles. Pasta doesn’t exactly have a ton of great candidates this year.

  • nov

    wouldnt even put it this high. most overrated sports game ever

  • Jim_LE

    online was a joke, as usual with the show. either theyre cheap and dont want to put the money into making it work or theyre just terrible coders.

  • BensCity

    Server reset later in March.

    • Keith.

      Why does my online record still stand at 2-2 then?

      • lol

        because you are obviously chuck norris.

  • Tom

    While the gameplay is great for a simulation video game for a sport as variable as baseball, it’s far from perfect and I would hope that they are still willing to tweak some things. For example, computers don’t chase enough. The team with the lowest % of pitches outside the strike zone that they chased was the Indians with 27%. Computers and humans swing and miss too much. The team with the lowest contact% in 2012 was the Nationals who made contact on “only” 77.1% of their swings. Computers and humans don’t make enough contact against pitches out of the zone. The team with the lowest contact % against pitches out of the zone was the Astros with still 62.5%.

    Pitching could also be better. Pitchers have too little breaking ball control compared to their fastball control. Pitcher’s control doesn’t change much between innings. In real life, a pitcher can be cruising and then just lose control for awhile. Most importantly, I dont think there is a perfect balance between being able to throw strikes but still not being able to throw your pitches at the corners every time. It seems pitchers can either hit their corners and walk nobody, throw strikes but its near the heart of the plate 2 out of 3 strikes, or can’t throw strikes consistently at all.

    I still think the Show is a great game, but I would love to see it make some final gameplay adjustments to make it even more realistic.

  • Bill

    Madden by far has been the best online game and 2k13 best offline. FIFA is good too but just not my thing.

  • J. Alfred Prufrock

    This should be much higher. I can’t imagine what sports game was better than MLB The Show 12. Perhaps it’s so low because it’s so similar to past interations. But why mess with success.
    This is the first year I’ve played the Show, and I can honestly say it is the best sports game I’ve ever played. No other video game replicates its sport like the Show, and for me, no other video game is quite as addictive.
    It truly is the only game I played, well after the baseball season even. I bought NHL 13 and NBA 2k13 months ago but can’t bring myself to even play them because I’m so immersed in the Show.

  • j7t

    So much wrong with this game and there are people who act like its perfect and above criticism. SMH

  • HustlinOwl

    #7 lmao