2K has conquered basketball. Now it’s setting its eyes on Sony’s baseball crown.
Publisher: 2K Sports
Developer: Visual Concepts
I’ve never seen so much build-up to one pitch.
The more discerning baseball fans among you are likely more excited about MLB 12 The Show, but for those without a PS3 (or those who just don’t like EA), there is another choice: 2K12. At least, this year there is, as this may be the last entry in the franchise. Additionally, this may be the last game ever released for PS2, which is impressive, considering the system came out in 2000. That’s quite a feat, wouldn’t you say?
Major League Baseball 2K12 will be available for PS2, PS3, PSP, PC, DS, Wii and Xbox 360 on March 6th, 2012.
Holmes and Moriarty. Aristotle and Mashy Spike Plate. Call of Duty and Battlefield. The Show and MLB 2K. Rivalries can often bring out the best in the opposing parties, as they strive to outdo one another. Other times, one can fall behind and just end up as the safe alternative to the more popular choice. Like Dr. Pepper and Mr. Pibb, perhaps? Is Major League Baseball 2K12 Mr. Pibb? I don’t know anymore, this analogy thing got away from me.
|PROS||Accessible batting, Intuitive and responsive fielding, “Today Season” Mode|
|CONS||Ill-conceived pitching system, Second-class graphics and sound design|
|WTF?!||What’s with all the sub-menus?|
While this may be just another baseball game to a lot gamers, it’s also likely to be the last game released for the PS2, which is kind of an interesting landmark. I only mention this because it occurred to me whilst playing it that I could imagine its graphics on that 12 year-old system. Now, graphics aren’t everything, but harbor no illusions. 2K12 is rough on the eyes.
Gameplay is another story though. In a lot of ways, 2K’s game is the polar opposite of Sony’s offering. The Show is as tough as old beef jerky, but I ran up 20 runs in my first game of 2K12 on the default difficulty. The Show embodies all the excitement of the epic struggle between pitcher and batter, while 2K12 has far superior fielding by virtue of its simplicity. The Show has The Mars Volta on its soundtrack, and 2K12 has Skrillex. The contrast couldn’t be any more stark.
And yet, these are two games about the same sport. How different could they be? Well, let’s start with 2K12′s biggest strengths. First, and perhaps most importantly, the game is a lot more accessible. I tried to stress how realistic and stressful The Show is in my review, but in case I wasn’t clear: the umpires in The Show have different personalities that affect how they call the game. That isn’t just realism; that’s borderline mad science. 2K has gone in the opposite direction though, making its game a lot easier to pick up and play. This might just be a plus in the book of many people put off by Sony’s verisimilitude.
Batting is probably the most obviously affected element of the game. Even if you used the easiest setup possible in The Show, perfectly timed swings would still usually end up sending the ball into a waiting glove. 2K12, on the other hand, has one really simple method of batting based on timing, with three different kind of swings mapped to the right analog stick. It’s also much easier to tell if a pitch is going to be in the strike zone, whether it’s because the ball is actually moving slower or because of the way the zone is framed. The end result is that the actual meat of the game is a lot less stressful to get into, and you can jump right in and start trouncing the Cardinals. This doesn’t necessarily make either game “better” than the other in this regard, but it’s important to know the differences in approach available.
The other area that 2K12‘s simplified design benefits it is fielding. Everything is mapped logically, and the meter for throwing from fielder to fielder is large enough to see and react to. It’s not perfect, or even optimal, but it seems to be the best modern baseball games have to offer. Also, there is an option to practice fielding and base running, which its rival lacks. Unfortunately, those are really the only clear advantages Visual Concepts managed to get on Sony’s San Diego team.