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PS Vita Review: MLB 12 – The Show

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If years of The Show’s evolution hadn’t worked so darn hard to present baseball at its purest, the inaugural Vita edition wouldn’t feel so stunted. Imagine The Show with its soul ripped out, the soul in this case being atmosphere, and you’ve landed squarely on the Vita’s mound.

It’s one thing to create a portable baseball game designed exclusively for that on-the-go presence. It’s another to create one where a grand slam is so glossed over, the commentators are still catching up with the excitement as the next batter steps into the box. The flow of The Show, and even baseball itself, has been degraded. Were the series gunning for a retro approach–although even Bases Loaded celebrated a home run–crushed presentations wouldn’t matter so much.

Here, even with the clipped commentary of Matt Vasgersian and crew leading credence to the TV style, instant replays don’t exist. Maybe Major League Baseball is cutting back on costs this year, or maybe San Diego Studio was rushed. Put your money on the latter.

With the time they did have, the product was stuffed full of features and modes. The game case, mind you, is hardly stuffed at all, unless you consider the leaflet online pass. Publishers claim to be going green by restricting paper use, unless of course it’s going to make them money. Newcomers are bound to be overwhelmed in game, partially because of a confusing menu that never makes it clear whether it’s touch or button controlled. The other half is dealing with simulation aspects, and lack of proper manual.

It’s impressive that The Show doesn’t feel behind. Generally, the rule of thumb is to issue the portable edition based on a prior year. Vita players have access to the wonky, refreshed Pulse Pitching introduced in the PlayStation 3 brethren. It has to keep up given the option to cross play, uploading save files to that magical cloud and picking up on the alternate version. That said, it’s not capable enough to stop mid-game. It’s constrained to future match-ups only. Saving mid-game, more so in baseball than any other virtual sport, should be standard.

The feature lists claims to have instituted reinvigorated ball physics, but it seems the Vita can only do so much. Things are trailing here, The Show’s ability to fall into batting ruts in which the ball trajectory feels too pre-determined, is evident. The ball does hang during outfield pop flies and shoot out of the infield like it should, just not as unpredictably compared to the PS3. Visuals, just out of reach of the screen’s native resolution, are clearly sucking too much of the power for broader physics implementation.

Minor touch screen inclusions make pitch targeting a breeze, but the shaky miniature analog sticks on the Vita are a little imprecise for such an action. You can almost feel the wobble of the icon while trying to line up in a corner when using the stick. For batting, analog doesn’t have that killer impact generated because of the short motion. Stick with those charming clicky buttons for blasting the ball over the wall.

The Show has reached first base on the Vita, just beating out a throw from the shortstop. With better involvement on the dev side, a triple is within grasp come the next at bat.

MLB 12- The Show is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB. This game can also be found on: PS3

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.