Xbox 360: MLB 2K12 Review
MLB 2K12 hit store shelves in March to coincide with the start of another summer of America’s favorite pastime. This year’s installment is nothing more than a subtle upgrade to last year’s version, if you want to call it an upgrade. At least that’s what was promised in several previews I read prior to the release of the game. One thing assured was an improved hitting system. The batter would hit more balls to left and right field versus many hits in previous versions of the game going (generally) to center field. If there was such an upgrade to this hitting system, I barely noticed. Most of my hits do, in fact, go toward center field for the most part. Despite this slight disappointment in the hitting department, I do find the game a pleasure to play and worth my time and money.
Returning for another year of baseball fun is the “My Player” campaign where you get to design your player and help them become a star. You get to choose your best asset (power, contact, speed, etc) and build your player up from the AA minor leagues. When you complete several objectives, you get drafted to the bigs. This mode is a time saver because you only have to complete your parts. You hit, run bases, and complete fielding situations. A standard game in “My Player” is about 3-7 minutes. The rest of the game that you are not involved with is simulated. The unfortunate thing about this mode is you have little control over whether you actually win or lose. I will say this though; it appears as though your team wins more if you play your parts well. That is not always the case, but pretty close. The overall objective of “My Player” is to get your player into the Hall of Fame by completing career-long objectives. This could take probably 5-7 full seasons depending on how your player does.
Other game play modes are available as always. “Franchise mode” let’s you take a team and control all management aspects of that team. You play the full season, every inning, every at bat, and every pitch. You can start with live team rosters or create your own team by drafting players from scratch. In this mode, you need to play at least 20 games before you can collect achievement points by winning the world-series. “The Perfect Game” challenge is a competition where you can win a million dollars by pitching a perfect game. I haven’t tried this, but from what I read, it is NOT a first come, first serve basis. I think the first eight to pitch the perfect game will be able to play in a tournament for the prize. In addition to these popular game play modes, you can play “MLB Today” where you can play matchups between teams actually playing “today.” And of course, there is always the fun “Homerun Derby” challenge.
Overall, MLB 2K12 received a few tweaks from last year’s version, but I find it is still glitchy in some areas especially in the hitting department. There is an annoying glitch when I am about to hit the ball. Just as I am about to make contact there is a sputter of sorts; a momentary pause mid-swing. It almost always results in a foul ball. The AI base runners are dumb. When a ball goes past the catcher they tend to just stay on base and not advance. Also, in “My Player” when I am on 3rd base and there is an AI runner on 1st, they never steal second. The AI never steals a base actually in situations where they should or could. Last season, stealing bases was way too easy, this year it’s incredibly hard.
The one thing I found most annoying is the inability, in “My Player” mode, to choose which objective I want to meet. They tell me to “get ahead in the count,” but then throw me three straight strikes. They tell me to “hit and run,” but then thrown an unhitable pitch. They tell me to “drive in the run,” but then intentionally walk me. This is the exact same thing I complained about last year. They need to have a drop down menu of hitting goals that I should be able to choose from prior to my at bat.
The announcers do a good job of calling the game as it happens. In “My Player” they fall behind a bit as the game is faster-paced. I also noticed that some of the things they say were recycled verbatim from last year. However, their calling of the game has improved over last season. They say more things this time around although they do overuse my nickname. Seems like every other second it’s “the dude” this and “the dude” that. Yes, I chose “the dude” as my player nickname. How could I not?
Despite these glitches which I think will always be an issue in sports games, I do find that I am having fun grooming my player, modeled after me, for the Hall of Fame. Right now, I am doing well enough that my Kansas City Royals should, at the very least, make the wild-card spot at the end of the season. When the season is over, I will trade him (me) to the national league so I can play in other team stadiums. Any suggestions on which team I should go to? I was thinking San Francisco so I could hit homers in McCovey Cove.
Based on last year’s game, it is more of the same. Not that it’s a bad thing; when it comes to sports games, there is really only so much polish you can put on the same game year after year. There are some glitches, but not so many that it takes away from the game. There isn’t much more I could say about the game except that baseball fans shouldn’t be thinking the MLB 2K franchise did anything more than tweak last year’s game. And I use the term “tweak” loosely.