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MLB 2K12 Review

The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming and the birds … well they’re are back to doing bird-like stuff. This could only mean one thing … Baseball Season, and with this wondrous time of year comes the games that every baseball fan looks forward to. MLB 2K12 you say??? I know what you PS3 fans may be thinking: “Dude, The Show is so much better! Why bother with that garbage?”. Well for those of us fans that don’t have a PS3, we have MLB2K12 and, no we are not going to spend the $250 necessary just to play one game. If you are one of the unfortunate souls that loves baseball and loves baseball sims but has to make due with the 2K series, I have a bit of good news. MLB 2K has shown, over the last 3 years, solid if not major improvements to their hardball franchise. 2K9 was terrible, this I admit. 2K10 was better but not by a whole lot. 2K11 is when signs of competence finally started to shine through for the friendly folks at 2K. After playing this year’s installment, I would have to say that I am pretty impressed.

The mechanics in this title have gotten better! While hitting is pretty much the same as 2K11, the pitching has gotten a much needed revamp. No longer can you simply throw combinations of fastballs and change-ups to keep AI off their game, so to speak. But instead, 2K has placed indicators on your pitch selections that change from blue, to yellow and to red based on the percentage of times thrown. Once one of your pitches falls into the red, the odds of the AI hitting for a single or the dreaded *gulp* double are highly increased. While this may seem like a huge pain in the rear, it does make the game more realistic. Hitters in the majors, especially the good ones, are fantastic at recognizing pitcher tendencies. If you know what’s coming you, have a much better chance of seeing something worth swinging at. Unfortunately this is not a luxury that you are awarded. As a hitter you don’t get to see what the AI has thrown a multitude of times. This is for you to recognize and adjust to on your own. There is also a thin line between realism and cheapness and this game does straddle it. You can go three innings without throwing your curveball and if it is still highlighted in red, mark my words, it will get hit. As far as the fielding goes, 2K12 has made the defensive motions even more smooth than its predecessors. Outfield glitches are a thing of the past and double plays are turned BEAUTIFULLY. I cant stress this enough. The animations of the second baseman are incredible and I would be hard pressed to find anything more gratifying to the video game baseball fan.

That being said, the only obvious exception would be tagging one 430ft. There are roughly 70 unique batting stances, each with its own “pose” after you crush one into the cheap seats. While the art design is a tad bit clunky when showing slow motion, up close replays of said home run, the in-game animations are spot on. The camera view also tends to stay at home plate as you watch balls disappear into the bright lights of the ball park of your choosing i.e. Robert Redford in The Natural. While the drama and the display are spectacular, the thing that makes this even more gratifying is the level of difficulty involved in getting a base hit much less a home run. Hitting, at times, can be almost impossible and I have spent many hours screaming at the TV when they show me how badly I missed on my swing, only to find out that I had, in fact, timed it perfectly and managed only a pop-up to the shortstop. This inconsistency appears to be more of an attempt to make sure players end seasons with realistic numbers. Long gone are the days of playing all 162 games and finishing with a .417 avg, 92Hrs, 200+ RBIs. Batting .350 is a feat in this game and one that the player should be aware of going in. Take low strikes, wait for your pitch and frustrations should be held to a minimum.

My Player mode is back, however the options are limited and no changes whatsoever have taken place in this mode. It takes almost a full year in the Minors for your guy to reach the big leagues and the time spent getting there is very time consuming and honestly not a whole lot of fun. While boosting your batting and fielding attributes are fairly easy, getting your player’s speed to an acceptable level is a giant pain in the ass. There are certain goals that your player will need to attain in order to make it to the Majors. One of them is to steal 10 bases for your Double A affiliate. While this doesn’t seem very daunting, it is by far the most annoying part of the journey. Skill points are given based on what you do in your games and attaining base running points are few and far between and even then when given, the game is VERY stingy on the amount they give you. Most of which depend on what your teammates do … i.e. tagging up on pop flies, advancing safely, and scoring runs all depend on what the guy behind you in the line up is capable of. Most of the time you get stranded on first with no additional points and you have gone through your My Player game with nothing to show for it. Franchise Mode is extensive and very fun. Doing a fantasy draft and getting the players you want can be an out and out blast. Organizing team budgets, buying scouting reports for other teams and making trades is the crown jewel in this mode and one that any true baseball fan will probably do first thing off the bat. Two problems that I have faced that are particularly bothersome are … 1. Lets say you want to start a franchise with the Rockies and you do your fantasy draft. Sounds great right? Cool uniforms awesome ballpark. Well if you draft Troy Tulowitzki, since he is in fact on that team in real life, his numbers from last year will roll over. You start the season .303 30HRs and 103 RBIs. Cool for whatever rating you will get at the end of the year because there is a good chance he will double those, however for those of you who actually enjoy doing things the right way it gets incredibly annoying. 2. As with almost all of the 2K sports games save files become corrupt. While this has only happened to me once, I’m not willing to put in the work for however many games and let it happen again. Two separate save files for your Franchise or My Player should solve the issue.

The game is decent overall. Hardcore baseball fans will love it, others would probably hate it. While the mechanics and graphics aren’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination and small glitches are often present, (Crowds jumping for foul balls that have already landed, and sometimes when a batter is digging in to bat they will tap the plate and the very end of the bat will actually go through home plate.) the game’s overall feel is authentic. Day games are stunning and bright, night games are crisp and have a very good feeling of being part of the gaming action. Gary Thorne does the play-by-play and there is nobody in Major League Baseball today better than he is (settle down Dodger fans!). Steve Phillips and John Kruk are “ok” at best, however the audio overlay is fantastic. On occasion the guys will be discussing a player at bat and while in the middle of a sentence something happens on the field. Once Thorne is done making the call the announcers will go right back to whatever they were talking about before the pitch was hit. Recent attempts by 2K to accomplish this have fallen short. It seems as though this issue has been fixed and it is welcome. Solid game play, solid graphics, very authentic feel, and excellent audio make for a very good baseball simulator.

8 out of 10

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