Sony San Diego experimented with motion controls in MLB 11 The Show last year, implementing basic PlayStation Move support in a fringe game mode, Home Run Derby. The inclusion of Move controls in a casual party game and nothing else seemed to speak volumes about their viability as an input method for a sports simulation. Of course they couldn’t get Move controls to work in the actual game; it’s just not feasible, I thought.
MLB 12 The Show (PlayStation 3 [previewed], PlayStation Vita)
Move hitting is much more precise than it was last year, and it offers a much greater link between you and your on-screen avatar. MLB 11 only rendered a bat floating in the batter’s box; now you can see the hitter holding his Louisville Slugger. If you actually get up in front of your TV and assume a batting stance before the pitch, which is optional, the wand will vibrate to let you know that it “sees” you. Once it does, the in-game hitter moves the bat exactly as you move the wand. It’s an impressive implementation, forming a unique player-avatar connection that makes you go “whoa” the first time you see it.
Fielding with Move requires less user input in one sense, but puts more responsibility on you in another. Once a hitter makes contact, the AI takes care of putting your defenders in position to field the ball; Cramm told me that moving fielders with the wand was simply too awkward. But that’s all the CPU will handle. MLB 12 does something that, to my knowledge, no other baseball game has done (except in the case of robbing home runs): it puts the onus on you to make the catch. A circle beneath a fielder changes from red to yellow to green to indicate timing; you pull the trigger to catch the ball when it’s green, and hitting it too early or too late will likely result in an error.
Running the bases with Move also brings in an aspect of real-life baseball. You control your baserunners with gestures similar to those used by a third-base coach. Waving the wand in a circular motion advances a runner, while swiping left and right tells him to return to a base. If you hold up the wand horizontally, the baserunner will stop at the next base, and if you hold the trigger while doing so, he’ll stop in his tracks. This aspect of MLB 12’s Move controls took the most time to get down, but I think that was mostly because I had difficulty keeping track of the different gestures.
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8:00 AM on 04.09.2014