Having not played a baseball game in several months, I was ready to fire up the MLB 2k12 demo. Going in, I knew it wouldn’t be nearly as good as MLB: The Show, but I really wanted to have a baseball game to play. Unfortunately, I have to wait a week for The Show.
Please keep in mind that everything you read comes from the point of view of someone who plays The Show.
After pressing start, you are given the choice of playing as Texas or St. Louis. The first thing you are shown is a look at Busch Stadium. This is extremely disappointing. It looks bad. The detail simply isn’t there. The only thing that really stood out (and I didn’t skip any cutscenes) was that the base coaches were wearing helmets. Good touch, but shouldn’t be a focus.
I came to bat with Texas and the camera angle (the only one available mind you) is like I’m looking through binoculars backwards. The pitcher seems so far away. The control scheme is less than ideal as I have a choice between pressing A to swing, or using the right thumb stick. Having enjoyed using the stick to swing in The Show, I opted for that and was given a brief tutorial on it. It is indeed different as you press up to contact swing, back and up to power, and left or right (what?) to just slap at the ball to foul it off.
Easily the biggest issue is the complete lack of check swings. In The Show, you always pull back before pressing up as this represents your stride at the plate. If you pull back and don’t press up, you won’t swing. Worst case scenario is you check swing. In MLB 2k12 if you don’t want to swing at the pitch at the last instant, too bad. This is a huge missing element to a baseball game and it is amazing how many games 2K has put out and this has still been omitted. (EDIT: It appears check swings ARE in the game. You need to press back on the right thumb stick. This is not easy to do still. If you are going for a power swing, you are already pressing back and going forward, but now you need to pull back? An improvement from not having check swings, but still badly implemented)
I was also perplexed as to why I was being told what every single pitch was when it was coming in. Unlike the batter’s eye of MVP 05 back in the day, still the single best game ever for attempting to read a pitch, you are simply told in words what is coming. As the pitcher was releasing the ball, the words “Four Seam” came up. Are you freaking kidding me? Even more perplexing was that this game actually shows breaking balls better than The Show. Yet you need to tell me it is coming? Weak 2k…absolutely weak.
It’s been noted in the past that the commentary was one of 2K’s strong points…something that certainly shouldn’t be at the top of the list, but it is. After my first at bat I noticed it was missing from the demo completely. Another big miss here as far as I’m concerned.
I also noticed that for some reason the catcher rifles the ball back to the pitcher. I mean, faster than the pitcher throws to the catcher. Is this to speed the game up? What is the point of this? If you want to speed the game up, eliminate the throw altogether.
The defensive players throw the ball much more naturally than in the past. It looks more fluid and not as clunky.
After my 3 outs at bat, I went to the pitchers mound.
Here is where 2K does a better job than The Show. You have a variety of pitches, 5 in this case. You have to throw every pitch with the right thumb stick. The trick is that every pitch is thrown very differently…as in real life. A regular fast ball is thrown by pulling down on the stick and then up. You’re given a very small timing window and if you fail, the pitch will go awry. A curve ball is thrown by starting the thumb stick at 5 o clock, and rotating up to 11 o clock. It’s really enjoyable to pitch in this game.
The risk/reward is massive when pitching. Even missing by a little with timing will hurt you and could cause a wild pitch. Unfortunately, that leads to another huge gripe…
With a runner on first, I threw a wild pitch that rolled all the way to the back stop. The runner didn’t even flinch and stayed at first base. I intentionally threw 3 more wild pitches to see if it was just a fluke and the runner NEVER advanced. Unbelievable.
In the field, throwing the ball seems like a bigger chore than it should be. Like pitching, you have a tiny window of timing where you throw the ball for optimum strength and accuracy. Throw too hard and you risk throwing it away. Throw too weak and you risk the runner beating out the throw. It seems out of place and completely unnecessary.
The fielding camera itself also feels way too low to see what you are doing. This is really just personal preference. I’m sure some people play with the camera at about 8 feet off the ground, but I prefer the game camera available in The Show.
I played two full games and stopped enjoying it after that. It’s simply not fun to play and offers very little over what The Show does.
+ Pitching is amazing. I really wish The Show would utilize a form of pitching from this game.
+/- It’s the only baseball game on Xbox and it is more fluid than in the past. If it is your only choice, it could be worse.
- The first thing you notice is the terrible visuals. How can The Show look SO much better than this?
- Being told what ever pitch is? Why?
- Bad camera angles
- Unnatural throwing from fielders and a completely unnecessary throwing meter.
No check swings….deal breaker. Badly implemented check swings.
-/- Bad AI when it comes to base running. You MUST advance a wild pitch, let alone 4 consecutive pitches.
All in all, I’m sorry if you are a baseball fan and only own an Xbox. You are clearly missing out on The Show. I also think 2K is wasting their time by putting this game on the PS3.
I clearly won’t be touching this game, but those who appreciate good online play and great league implementation might.