By Rich Shivener in Reviews
Wednesday, March 21, 2012 at 2:00 pm
|Cueto and the Reds crew.|
Sony and the minds behind MLB 12: The Show want you to buy the game's PS3 and PS Vita editions, touting their unmatched, super-realistic presentations, mechanics and controls. Both editions, we can say, will juice your baseball fanaticism (Reds, Reds, Reds) well before Opening Day.
Which should you buy? It's a tough call. That's why we're reviewing both editions, starting with the Vita. This one, with its line drive towards reality, has gotten me so worked up, I thought it best to recap a blood-boiling battle between the Reds and the Cubs. It was ugly, ugly, ugly ....
Before I tell you why the Cubs got lucky, let me note that the Vita verion is robust. It has The Show's long-standing modes: Exhibition, Road to the Show, Franchise, Season, Practice, Home Run Derby and online modes, all of which are synced with up-to-date teams of Major League Baseball. Translation: I can have my Cincinnati Reds anywhere, anytime. I can crush the Cubs anytime, anywhere.
There are, of course, new features. One of note is "True Ball Physics," which basically means the ball will at times surprise you, thrill you and kill you, just like it would in a real game. Another notable one is "Pulse Pitching." With this option enabled, you select a pitch and thus see a ball in the strike zone, encompassed by a pulsing circle; the smaller the circle, the more accurate your pitch. It took a few innings to adjust to this option, and at first it was a little dizzying, but overall, it's a great alternative to "pure analog" (stick) pitching (introduced last year) or meter pitching.
But what excites me most about the Vita edition is its functionality with the device's front and rear touch screens. During games, you can tap the front to select pitch types, pinpoint where you would like to pitch in the strike zone (accuracy depends on how well you execute the pitch, of course) and, less glamorously, pause the game by swiping over the MLB 12 logo. The rear, which is the more innovative of the two, can be used for fielding, baserunning, stealing and pick offs. Alas, you can't pitch or hit the ball by touching the screens. I suppose this isn't an iPad, after all.
I have more comments, but I'll save those for annotations to the "Game Log" of that ugly Reds vs. Cubs game I mentioned earlier. Maybe I'm exaggerating how ugly it was.
Game Log (abridged!)
Notice how the graphics are sharp in the foreground and decent in the background. I can make out the scenery behind Great American Ballpark.
Reds Batting. Garza Pitching. Phillips struck out on a 0-2 fastball low and away. Cozart struck out looking on a 0-2 fastball low and away. Votto flied out to Soriano (F7), ending the inning.
|From this view, I can make out My Old Kentucky Home.|
Now from Broadcast view (pictured below). Notice how the foreground is clear yet the background looks like it was lifted from Another World. Atrocious.
|Broadcast needs a little HD in its life.|
Cubs batting. Cueto pitching. Dejesus grounded out to Rolen (5-3). Castro struck out chasing a 1-2 outside slider. Byrd grounded to shortstop for a single. Lahair struck out on 2-2 fastball down the middle, ending the inning.
Early on, I got a solid grip on "Pulse Pitching." My trick was counting to four before pressing X.
Reds batting. Bruck struck out chasing a 0-2 outside slider. Rolen flied out to Soriano (F7). Ludwick struck out chasing a 1-2 slider low and away, ending the inning.
Cubs batting. Soriano doubled on a ground rule double. Soto struck out chasing a 0-2 inside fastball. Stewart flied out to Ludwick (F7). Barney lined out to Bruce (L9), ending the inning.
Again, not a bad go at pitching. I still suck at batting, though. I've tried Pure Analog Batting, Timed (just pressing X at the right time) and Zone (left analog for aim and x to hit). I even tried Zone Plus Analog, the newest of the hitting options; that is haaaaaarrdddd.
I fast-forwarded to here because, until then, it was, in general, a game of strikeouts and flyballs on both sides. While my guys were hitting, reliever Logan Ondrusek was warming up in the bullpen. Was he a bad choice?
Reds batting. Marmol in bullpen. Phillips struck out chasing a 1-2 slider low and away. Again! Damnit! Cozart lined to left for a single. Votto homered to right. Cozart scores. Bruce lined to right for a single. Russell pitching in a double switch with Dewitt batting. Wood in bullpen. Rolen struck out chasing a 0-2 curveball low and in. Ludwick struck out chasing a 0-2 fastball high and away, ending the inning.
And here's where it got ugly. Did I not warm up Ondrusek enough?
Cubs batting. Ondrusek pitching. Dewitt struck out on a 0-2 fastball high and in. Dejesus reached first on a fielding error by Cozart (E6). Castro lined to right for a single. Dejesus advances to 2nd. Byrd grounded to right for a single. Dejesus advances to 3rd. Castro advances to 2nd. Campana pinch runs for Byrd. Lahair struck out swinging early at a 2-2 outside fastball. Soriano doubled to center. Dejesus scores. Castro scores. Campana scores. Soto doubled to left. Soriano scores .....
OK, you get the idea. I blew the game - because, of course, I couldn't bat for shit in the ninth inning.
Overall, MLB 12: The Show for the Vita is packed with the energy - and fanaticism - for its beloved sport. Think not of it as a watered-down version of the PS3 edition, to be reviewed by yours truly very soon.
The Official Verdict: 4 out of 5
This review is based on a Vita copy of the game provided by the publisher.