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MLB 2K12 Review

Greg Tito | 14 Mar 2012 22:30
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The chance to develop a young player until he's called up to the Bigs and eventually reaches the Hall of Fame is a big draw for a lot of people, but this year's My Player Mode doesn't do anything special. There should be more small rewards to make you a better player. Hitting the cutoff man, or running on contact with two outs should provide incremental rewards just like working a full count does. Otherwise, just going through the motions of shagging fly balls isn't that fun. Another strike against the My Player mode, I hit all my "call up goals" and was immediately promoted from AA ball to a starting role on a Major League team, skipping AAA altogether. I know Bob Jinglehopper is going to be a big star, but he wasn't ready for the big jump in skill level from that deep in the farm system. Also, would it kill Visual Concepts to put some real minor league parks in the game? I quickly got tired of seeing the same roller coaster in the background.

The big mode this year - or at least the only item in the menu denoted with a "New!" tag - is MLB Today. You can start a season with your favorite team and compare it directly to how the real team fares over the course of 162 games by playing the day's scheduled game. It's an intriguing idea, and the synch supposedly began when Spring Training started on March 15th. But other than only being able to play the games, the feature apparently won't be turned on for real until Opening Day. Shame.

Online play has a lot of options, from individual pickup games to robust online leagues. The problem is one that has plagued any game that depends on precise timing, say, like hitting a ball traveling 95 mph. The lag really ruins the experience of playing baseball when a fastball jitters to the plate like a knuckler. The game is still playable, and I'm looking forward to joining a league with my buddies, but unless 2K fixes the lag, don't expect a smooth online delivery.

I imagine it is difficult for the developer of a sports game with an annual release schedule to meaningfully refine mechanics every year. I can't fault a studio for not delivering my personal dream game, but I really wish the baseball guys at Visual Concepts became inspired by their brethren on the NBA side of the office. Baseball has had a longer history than basketball, and there are so many famous events to experience and locations we can't even visit anymore, except in a simulation like a videogame. Wouldn't it be great to play Jackie Robinson's debut at Ebbets Field? Or Roger Maris hitting homer number 61 of the season to best Babe Ruth's record? Or Kirk Gibson's pinch hit home run in the 1988 World Series? You can refine the features and mechanics all you want, but it's the chance to play history which will keep baseball fans interested in buying a new game every year.

Bottom Line: Even though MLB 2K12 improves the pitching feedback and the throwing mechanic is a nice feature, the game doesn't really make a convincing argument for investing another $60 if you bought the game last year, or the year before.

Recommendation: Those of you who need to have the roster update will likely buy MLB 2K12 anyway. Newcomers looking for a baseball game won't be disappointed, but there may be better options out there.

This review was based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.

Game: MLB 2K12
Genre: Sports
Developer: Visual Concepts
Publisher: 2K Sports
Platform(s): PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, DS, PSP, 3DS
Available from: Amazon(US), GameStop(US), Amazon(UK)

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