Sony San Diego has consistently produced well-regarded MLB The Show titles that easily outclassed other simulation baseball games. The studio has for years been fighting the stagnation that typically results from a lack of strong competition, and has predominantly met with success.
MLB 12 The Show (PlayStation 3 [reviewed], PlayStation Vita)
As usual, MLB 12 requires a five-gigabyte hard drive installation. This year, for the first time, you can choose to install an additional 5 GB of data. It takes another ten minutes, and if you can spare the hard drive space, I recommend it. The Show has long suffered from atrocious load times, and the 10 GB installation offers a marked improvement -- for example, it cuts exhibition-game loading almost in half. MLB 12 also benefits from drastically reduced save-game file sizes. Franchise and Road to the Show files previously exceeded 20 MB; now, they’re 1-4 MB, which speeds up saving and loading.
Unfortunately, MLB 12’s commentary occasionally makes me wish for continuous background noise to drown it out. It’s alternately terrific and dreadful, more the latter than the former. Franchise games feature some impressively relevant lines, like Dave Campbell mentioning an in-progress hitting streak. Of course, plenty of lines repeat; I almost don’t want to play in Yankee Stadium anymore, because Matt Vasgersian has been talking up “a new home for baseball in the Bronx” since 2009. That’s even understandable to an extent, considering the realities of annualized game development.
Instead, MLB 12 on PS3 gets a brand-new mode called Diamond Dynasty. It has more in common with the NHL franchise’s “EA Sports Ultimate Hockey League” than Madden or FIFA “Ultimate Team.” After creating a team and customizing every detail with a 1,000-layer logo editor -- insignias, caps, helmets, jerseys, cleats, and more -- you’re presented with a card collection of fully editable fake players and a few MLB athletes. If you want spend hours recreating your high-school varsity squad, go right ahead.
That’s Diamond Dynasty’s undoing. Online play in The Show, a perennial black mark on an otherwise spectacular game, is still not something I would ever willingly subject myself to. I tried to play a few games for this review, but literally could not complete a single one -- my opponent and I always agreed to a friendly quit in the early innings because the experience was so awful.
MLB 12 is a sign of a franchise growing stale, a formerly pristine playing field in need of re-sodding. As enjoyable as it still is to play, important elements of the experience aren’t up to par. The future remains murky for now, with Take-Two’s exclusive third-party license expiring this year (and an apparent lack of desire to renew the contract). Perhaps MLB 13 will see some stiff competition to inspire it to greatness.
THE VERDICT - MLB 12 The Show
Reviewed by Samit Sarkar
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