I once knew a guy who hated baseball. He absolutely abhorred the sport. It’s so boring, he said, the only way he would be even slightly interested in watching baseball is if they put a mine under third base. In his bizarrely violent (and arguably inappropriate) imaginary variation of the sport, this mine would randomly go off at some point during the game.
As a former Little Leaguer, I don’t quite share the same sentiment, but it brings up a valid point: to many, the American pastime lacks the excitement and fast-paced action found in other sports. But as the longest running MLB franchise simulation, MLB 2K12 does a good job combining a variety of features to make this game fun for serious fans and casual players alike.
One of the major benefits of sports simulations is the practically infinite replay value. With story-driven games, there is usually little to do after the initial play through. But with sports simulations, you can always play another match-up.
MLB 2K12 adds to this replay value by including several game modes:
- MLB Today Season Mode – Serious fans will appreciate this “first time ever” game mode which allows you to play games along with the full six-month long real-life MLB season.
- My Player Mode – In My Player, you create your own baseball player and follow/control his progress from the minor leagues up to the majors. MLB 2K12 features different attributes and career goals depending on the position of your player.
- Franchise – Act as the manager of various baseball teams in franchise mode.
- Home Run Derby – Sponsored by State Farm, the Home Run Derby mode pits power hitters head-to-head through progressive rounds of home run competition.
- Online – Take your skills online and play exhibition games against other gamers.
In addition to the various game modes, 2K Sports also strives to make the simulation a more realistic experience in MLB 2K12. You may have played other sports simulations where the commentators repeat the same phrases over and over again. At times this can be amusing, but after a while it grows annoying. MLB 2K12 avoids this annoyance and makes the game seem more realistic by adding over 80 hours of commentary. The commentators accurately describe what is happening in the game and share their opinions on the events as they occur.
The pitching and batting AI in MLB 2K12 is another improvement over other baseball simulations. As a pitcher, you can’t expect to throw the same pitches over and over and expect the batters to fall for them. The AI batters adjust their swings based on patterns in your pitching style. AI pitchers will also vary their style when they pick up tendencies in your batting.
Unfortunately, this intricate AI isn’t shared with the players in many fielding situations. When controlling the defensive team, it is frustrating when AI players aren’t in logical places. You might expect to be throw someone out only to find that the baseman is a good 10 feet from the base. When controlling men on base, you can exploit the AI of the opposing team to easily pick up stolen bases.
Another problem in MLB 2K12 is the camera angles. Sometimes they make sense: when pitching, the camera is positioned behind the pitcher; when batting, camera is behind the plate. But if you are controlling just one player in the field (and not the entire team) the camera angles are bizarre. With my review copy of the game, I chose an outfielder for My Player Mode. It was frustrating to not be able to see the ball or where the ball was going when fielding.
The controls can be equally frustrating. When base running, there is a significant delay in the response time when you tell your player to advance or return. Rounding bases is also hindered by this delay and can often mean the difference between a run and an out.
Despite these problems, MLB 2K12 is still a fun game for both serious baseball fans and casual plavyers – even without a mine under third.
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MLB 2K12 is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB. This review is based on the Xbox 360 version, provided to the reviewer at no cost through the Blogcritics.org writers’ network. This game can also be found on: Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3, Nintendo DS, PSP, PC, and PlayStation 2.