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Major League Baseball 2K12 Review

Hall of Famer Branch Rickey once remarked that “baseball is a game of inches.” Unsurprisingly, this quote could also be used to describe the Major League Baseball 2K series, where yearly iterations usher in minor adjustments rather than comprehensive revisions. Following nine seasons of measured improvement, the recent release of MLB 2K12 steps to the plate with an established grip on the fundamentals; pitching, battling and even throwing are all proficiently articulated. Yet, the title also fails to impress where it ought to, exhibiting enough gameplay and graphical glitches to undermine its veteran status.

Using the gesture-based pitching system remains engaging, as players twirl their controller’s analog sticks to fire off blistering fastballs or plunging sliders. While a seemingly minor improvement, the addition of the Dynamic Tendencies System fundamentally changes the throwing game. Typically, players facing the CPU utilized a fraction of their arsenal, unrealistically relying on a few pitches to advance the inning. With 2K12, each throw is measured against the man on the mound’s actual style, discouraging exploitation. Hurl too many two-seam fastballs, and the opposing team grows wise- lowering the effectiveness of the pitch with each additional use. Likewise, players will need to vary their throwing locations, lest batters will hone in your preferred zones.

Beyond a tracking system which offers an advantageous diagram incorporating each throw, players are given visual data of overused pitching zones as well as an indicator revealing a color-coded projection of success. Amazingly, 2K12’s commentary also provides an insight into a player’s pitching, with the team of Gary Thorne, Steven Phillips, and John Kruk offering accurate observations. Much of the game’s reported eighty hours of new dialog functions like an unseen coach, providing suggestions for when to reach into the bullpen or divulging a particular pitcher’s concealed qualities.

Batting preserves the same engaging right stick to mechanics introduced into 2K10, allowing players to connect with the ball, aim for the fences, or lay down the bunt. One of the persistent problems with hitting was the 2K’s limited variety of outcomes, with contact verging on the predictable. Wisely, battling has been overhauled, resulting in a realistic selection of energetic choppers, soft bloopers, and streaking line drives. Much like pitching, 2K12’s slow motion replay’s uncover some elaborate algorithms at work, with balls careening convincingly off of hits and exhibiting a bit of extra momentum when hitting a bat’s sweet spot.

2K12’s throwing system receives a minor augmentation, calculating the difficulty of each toss into a gauge-based system. Now, the game examines the balance and speed of the fielder, presenting a green-yellow-red colored meter which represents the power and precision of a throw. In execution, players are forced to decide between urgency and accuracy, endowing the fielding with a nice risk/reward mechanic. While it’s an interesting addition, some additional tweaking seems necessary, as athletes seem to take a few superfluous strides before throwing the ball.

Many of last year’s core gameplay components reappear, albeit with nominal changes. Although My Player Mode already felt like a sports RPG, the addition of specific roles (which alter progression, rating, and other evaluative criteria) advances the amalgam. From an accelerated game speed by only having to participate in plays your athlete has a hand in, to the sentiment of success expressed from seeing your avatar rise from Triple-A obscurity to big league sensation, the mode is consistently rewarding. Regretfully, it can also feel a bit unrefined thanks to unsightly player models and a handful of control snags. Baserunning felt like parallel parking rather than controlling a nimble athlete.

One of the more contentious elements of MLB 2K12 can be found in The MLB Today Season mode, which permits players to play alongside actual games. Taking the helm of a single team and using an updated roster with up-to-the-minute stats, players can attempt to outperform the pros. Regretfully, the mode is time-sensitive;  miss the opportunity to play an imperative game and it’s gone forever. Likewise, the whole component will most likely cease to be supported at the end of the 2012 season.

Visually, MLB 2K12’s most recent patch mended many of the game’s hiccups and framerate hitches, yet a number of graphical oddities remain. From bats clipping right through the plate, balls seemingly being thrown right through runner, to fouls which enduce clipping, nearly every game exhibits a handful of quizzical blemishes. Less forgivable are some of 2K12’s animations which often seem to lack transitional routines, and look habitually robotic. Offsetting these weaknesses are meticulously modeled ballparks, pleasing uniforms, and competent pro models.

With 2K’s license expiring at the end of the season, MLB 2K12 has the possibility of being the swan song for the long-running series. If that’s the case, the title may not be remembered as a Cooperstown- candidate, but as a consistent performer which gradually absorbed the sport’s rudiments. While the most recent online patch remedies many of the disk’s most glaring faults, a number of imperfections still mar 2K12’s performance. Fortunately, these deficiencies rarely are severe enough to prohibit players from having a rousing time.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert ‘DesertEagle’ Allen is Tech-Gaming’s resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

31 comments

  1. Wow, this is probably the longest review I’ve seen for the game. Nice job.

  2. Where’s the MLB: The Show review?

    AT least let me know real quick if it any better.

  3. Not really into baseball games, but I really liked your review. Very well written.

  4. So if you have a Xbox 360 this is your only choice this year?

    That simplifies things considerably.

  5. Devourer of Time

    From what I understand if you have a PS3, MLB The Show is the game to get.

    • Yep, I have to agree. Sony’s game looks better and plays better. I’ve been buying it every year for the last three, and haven’t been disappointed with the improvements.

  6. Hopefully MVP or Triple Play will be here next season.

  7. I don’t get it. You say it’s like previous games, but then the whole article talks about differences. Where did you learn to write IGN?

  8. I picked up The Show for Vita this weekend. It’s an improvement from the PSP version, but still not in the same “League” as the PS3 one. Maybe next year.

  9. No mention of the Perfect Game Challenge this year?

  10. Just curious, Deagle- would would you have given the game before the patch?

    • It was very rough pre-patch; bad framerates, poor shadowing. The refresh rate was sporadic enough to disrupt hitting. I probably would have given it a C or C- due to gameplay being affected.

      Post-patch, it’s almost all been cleaned up, therefore a much better score.

      • That’s crazy that they were able to fix that much. I feel bad for people without an internet connection.

  11. I heard the graphics are brighter this year? They don’t look too bright do they?

    I bought MLB 2K10 and really liked it. Skipped 11 for some reason but I’m interested in this now that Spring Trainings started.

  12. Damn right now 2K12 has a Metacritic of 67. Thats really low for a sports game. But you seem to like it, so I’m thinking about RedBoxing it and making my own mind up.

    • Keep it mind that most sites are scoring the pre-patch version.

      Definitely check it out, and dig into the Mp Player component.

  13. Deagle, you’re into to sports and JRPGs? I didn’t think anyone liked both. Sounds like a good review and you actually know a thing or two about baseball. Did you ever play ball?

    As for the game, I tried the demo and like you said, there’s wasn’t enough that changed from 2K11 and even 2K10 to get me that excited. Maybe when the price drops.

  14. Second opinion from Pasta Padre, a sports-only gaming site:

    http://www.pastapadre.com/2012/03/05/mlb-2k12-initial-impressions

    “2K Sports has failed to provide a compelling reason to play MLB 2K12. There are no new features worth getting excited about, authenticity is a still lacking severely, the graphics are terrible, and there are still all sorts of problems throughout.”

  15. I’m really glad this is at my RedBox!

  16. Can you play MLB 2K12 in 3D? I need a baseball game for my new TV.

    • Yes, but there is a sick graphics glitch that makes it unplayeable. We are nvidia’s official 3d test drive center in Albuquerque, NM. I like to call it the “2K Spike”. In 3d at 120 hertz the graphic jump off of the players to a point far away, creating this spike that goes from the pitcher to the outfield wall. It is a problem that has been in 2K sports titles since 2010 (NBA 2k11 is where I first saw it). I don’t think that the PC market for sports games is large enough for 2k games to give a !@#$ about, as I have reported the glitch several times and nothing has been done about it for over two years now!!! Way to go 2k games!

  17. I’m sick of seeing people write about how The Show is so much better than the MLB series. Its graphics might be a little better, but to anyone who says that, I have to ask have you actually played the Show for a season? It’s really boring. The little things that happen is baseball are missing.

    • Im glad I’m not the only one who feels the same about The Show. Looks are important, but they’re not everything.

  18. Sounds like enough of a hit to get on base. 😀

    What’s wrong with the baserunning.

  19. Just played the demo. The game seemed good but not NBA 2K12 good. Maybe Visual Concepts and 2K pour all of their heart into that one.