MLB 2K12 Review

Greg Tito | 14 Mar 2012 18:30
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Some call baseball the perfect game. It blends the beauty and grace of bursts of athleticism with a leisurely pace enjoyed between sips of beer. Each pitch is a contest of wills, the result of which impacts all that comes after it. Take-Two's MLB 2K12 continues the grand tradition that began in the baseball clubs of New York City in the 19th century, but it's not exactly 27 up and 27 down. (Sorry, I've been watching Ken Burns' Baseball on Hulu.)

MLB 2K12 slightly improves a few features, and those changes are welcome. There's a lot more contextual feedback to how you're doing over the course of a game. When pitching, the rating of certain pitches increases based on how that pitch has performed. Get a strikeout with a nasty cut fastball, and that pitch's rating will improve by a few clicks. Give up a homer with your changeup, and that pitch won't do as well later. When that slugger comes up again in the lineup, don't serve up that meatball or it might end up over the fence. Location is tracked better too, which makes each game feel as dynamic as the real thing. If you throw a lot of the same pitches to the same location, that part of the strike zone will turn black, meaning the hitter will start looking for the fastball down and away. In short, MLB 2K12 encourages you to vary your pitches and strategy.

Hitting doesn't get as much of an upgrade, unfortunately. The same black box will show up for hitters if a pitcher has been favoring one location, and the batter's eye feature - a split second notice of what pitch is coming - will improve if the pitcher is getting knocked around like he's in a slow-pitch softball league. The variety of hits is now diverse, with bloop singles over the infielders, slow rollers, and high-bouncing choppers occurring with much more frequency.

On the defense side of the ball, the new throwing rating for each player is the only significant addition. When you press the throw button, a meter fills up, and you aim to release in the green for a strong accurate throw. Hold it too short, and the throw is either weak or off target, but holding too long will result in the ball sailing over the first basemen's head for an error. It's a good system, even though it makes it harder to turn the double play because of the delay of the meter filling. I like that it rewards player knowledge; fielders known to have a good arm should try to gun down the guy tagging from third while outfielders like Johnny Damon with a fish for an arm are better off just hitting the cutoff man. Other than the new throwing system, fielding still has the usual annoyances of weird animations and frustrating controls. Outfielders never seem to settle under fly balls naturally, and throws won't always go where you think they will.

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