Major League Baseball 2K12 Review (Xbox 360)
While the guessing game is now on as to whether this is the final Major League Baseball 2K game, gamers who aren't caught up in that talk but rather looking at the game they have just been handed might find something worth playing.
While it's not perfect, MLB 2K12 makes a valiant effort in what could be the series swan song, but is it worth the price of admission?
MLB 2K12 is like two different games. On the pitching side, it's fun and realistic; on the hitting side, it just feels mediocre. This year 2K introduced Dynamic Pitching, which is an interesting system where your individual pitch rating will rise or fall depending on your performance. If your fastball is painting the corner, and you are getting weak ground outs, that rating will increase. Conversely, if you are wild, or start getting rocked your rating will go down. As I said in the gameplay impressions article, I don’t know if I like this idea. I see what 2K is trying to do, and in theory it works. It’s just not practical when it comes to how real life pitchers perform. I think this is a case of 2K out thinking themselves.
Hitting, to me could use some work. I do like the analog control. It feels natural. I like how they differentiate contact and power swings. It makes sense. The only problem I have is, it’s strictly timing based. I am a fan of zone hitting, always have been. If 2K were to give us that option it would make a lot of gamers happy. Even still, I won’t hammer 2K over this omission. They have done a great job with the new ball physics and hit variety. I have seen shots down the line, -- Texas leaguers, cans of corn, you name it.
One of the biggest issues that I have with hitting is the frame rate. On my unpatched PS3 copy the frame rate is horrible when a ball is hit. It’s especially bad on foul balls. I need to mention that I have been informed that the Xbox 360 version of the game has been patched. It is being reported that the frame rate has been fixed, and a PS3 patch will be deployed shortly.
Fielding in 2K baseball has been an issue over the last few years. These issues ranged from outfielders dropping routine fly-balls, to first basemen not keeping their foot on the bag. I am happy to report that these issues are gone. This doesn’t mean that fielding is great. While they do tend to do the fundamental things right, there are some technical issues. I have noticed hitches in animations, players to crow hop on throws when the situation doesn’t call for it, and animations sometimes play out way to fast. In fact that is a problem throughout the whole game. Slow it down 2K.
I really enjoy the new throwing meter. It’s very intuitive. I like to have to set my feet to make an accurate throw. I also like how the green window is tied to the players fielding rating. Fielding, while not great, is a definite improvement over previous years.
As I mentioned in the modes article, Online is one of the strengths of this game. The servers held up well for me. Matchmaking was quick. I actually got to play 3 full games in a row without anyone quitting. Something that usually doesn't happen for me. You will still see some framerate dips while hitting just like in the offline modes, but pitching and fielding hold up quite well. Bottom line is you can barely tell you the difference between online and offline most of the time. If you want a good online experience with a friend or anyone for that matter, you will get it will this game.
One of 2K’s strongest points, the presentational realism rivals any other sports game, the number one reason being the commentary. 2K really brings it in this department. Gary Thorne, Steve Phillips and John Kruk add hundreds of new lines on top of what was already a robust commentary library. The dialogue between them gives you the sense that they are all in the same room and are actually calling the game you are playing. This seems to be rare in today’s sports titles.
Another positive are the camera angles. Last year, 2K introduced every team’s real television camera while you were pitching. This of course returns this year along with the same options to tweak the camera to your liking. I found myself having to change the default hitting camera. I really can’t tell you what I think of it without getting in trouble. Once I found a hitting camera to my liking, it made the presentation much more enjoyable.
My only real issue with the camera system is that I wish I could change the fielding camera when I am at bat. While the default is ok on some hits, it’s hard to see where the ball is on others. I get what 2K was trying to do with it, but at least give us options.
Overall Presentation is very well done. Sometimes I wish we could take pieces of game and put them together to get the total package. If this were the case, I would choose this game when it came to presentation.
If I had to tell you one way or the other if simulation stats, team records and trades were realistic, I couldn’t do it with a straight face.
The first season I simulated Hanley Ramirez won the National League MVP with a .256 average and 11 home runs. The Tigers beat the Nationals four games to one in the World Series, and there were a million trades and injuries. The second season I simulated looked a little better. The National League MVP was Joey Votto with a .312 average and 39 homeuns. The Angels defeated the Reds in six games to win it all. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention that 2K included an option to use the new playoff format. This little bit of extra effort can go a long way with fans.
If you are looking for Out of The Park Baseball type simulation stats with this game, you won’t find it. But like a career bench player, they are serviceable.
The more I played MLB 2K12 the more I liked it. As it stands on its own, it’s a good baseball game. There is more good than bad. If you can get past some of the deficiencies like the poor graphics, and player models, stuttering and wonky animations, there is definitely a solid game in there. As I mentioned before it just has a certain “fun factor."
Control Scheme: 2K makes good use of the analog sticks in all three facets of the game. Using the right stick feels intuitive and fun.
Stadiums: Good job out of 2K here. The stadiums are meticulously detailed. The walls are the right color and everything is where it should be.
Rosters: I only mention this because of the great job 2K does with its MLB Today feature. Keeping the rosters up to date day to day is a welcome feature.
Learning curve: Due to the analog controls there may be a slight learning curve if you are not familiar with the series. This is mainly due to the pitching mechanics.
Score: 7 (Good)