MLB 12: The Show (Vita) Review

MLB 12

Despite my unabashed love of all things San Francisco Giants, a large majority of my family and friends are made up of baseball detractors. The obligatory “boring” label is brought up often while discussing their disdain for the sport. Baseball moves at an admittedly deliberate pace, but the real-to-virtual transition has always been a unifying concept. The videogame medium provides another level of accessibility that limits the grind of a 162-game regular season. In turn, the latest portable version of the famed MLB: The Show franchise aims to create a harmonious relationship in which opposing views fall by the wayside.

The new-found coexistence works on multiple levels. There is the preconceived notion regarding handhelds and the inherent limitations of a portable video game. But when I slip that flash card inside the Vita and start playing, all thoughts regarding platform fade away. I’m not playing MLB 12 on the Vita – I’m simply playing MLB 12. All of the usual game modes are there for my enjoyment, and the inclusion of online play brings forth my competitive nature (though that feature’s functionality leaves a lot to be desired).

The fundamentally sound mechanics also define the MLB 12 experience. The game manages to emulate the strategic timing of a home-run swing or the panic of chasing down a ball with the opposing team just a few feet away from taking the lead. But this is a game working from multiple angles, so even the baseball indifferent are brought into the fold with numerous control options and game modes. There doesn’t need to be a genuine love of baseball to enjoy MLB 12: The Show – once again that harmonious relationship is being reinforced.

MLB 12

There is still an evident barrier when it comes to baseball video games though: dedication. Actually managing a franchise or creating the next Hall of Fame player takes a significant amount of time, just as a full-length game or season does in real life. MLB 12 remedies that dilemma with cross-platform functionality. Saves can be transferred across the PlayStation 3 and Vita using the cloud feature, and all of a sudden the time investment required becomes that much more manageable. Despite my years of playing baseball video games, completing an entire season seems feasible for the first time.

The continuity also serves to bridge the gap between artifice and realism. Elements don’t need to be streamlined in the Vita version of MLB 12 to create a broader appeal. Instead, the push for a more faithful re-creation of baseball manages to be fun in its own right when ample consideration and patience can be applied by the player. That’s not only a benefit of cross-platform functionality, but one that stems from the effectiveness of a portable game. Turning on the Vita and playing an hour or two of MLB 12 instead of sitting in front of a TV is no longer a relenting alternative – it’s a reasonable choice.

From an outside perspective it’s easy to look at MLB 12 for the Vita and see it as a marginal improvement over past PSP versions, but having played those games, I can say that developer SCE San Diego has crafted a truly great portable baseball video game that doesn’t pale in comparison to its console counterpart. There are obviously elements in which the PS3 version is still superior, but rarely during my time with MLB 12 for the Vita did I long for the comfort of my leather chair and HDTV. I was more than happy to have the experience in the palm of my hands – a sentiment that will likely be shared by a wider audience this time around.


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Author: Anthony LaBella View all posts by
My first experience playing a video game blew me away. The fact that Super Metroid was that game certainly helped. So I like to think Samus put me on the path to video games. Well, I guess my parents buying the SNES had a little something to do with it. Ever since then my passion for video games has grown. When I found that I could put words together into a coherent sentence, videogame journalism was a natural interest. Now I spend a large majority of my time either playing video games or writing about them, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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