MLB 2K12: Does offseason training pay off?

March 22, 2012

As usual, last year’s entry in this long-running baseball series was a disappointment, especially when compared to the PS3-exclusive The Show. With their exclusivity deal ending this year, can Take Two finally give people a compelling game?

The most important part of a sports game is control scheme. If the controls don’t feel right, then no matter how good the peripherals are, it just won’t succeed. Luckily, 2K12 fixed many of the issues that plagued the series in the past. While the main control method stays the same, utilizing the right stick for both hitting and pitching, they’ve fine-tuned it to the point where it is simply a control scheme, rather than an obstacle in the way of enjoyment. They’ve also finally added a button-based control scheme, where you press a button to swing and use the left stick to help direct the direction of the hit. Unfortunately, these control changes don’t apply online. For whatever reason, 2K decided they only wanted to use the new scheme offline, requiring you to use only the thumbstick controls when playing online.

For pitching, you hit a button to select a pitch, then hold it down until the reticule is filled for the optimum pitch. Unfortunately, there’s a new problem with fielding and baserunning. In the field, players are very sluggish at responding to input, which is multiplied when playing online. As for baserunning, you have to use the right stick for it, and it is very fickle about which base it thinks you are trying to go to. I often went too far or didn’t go far enough because of the controls. It’s one of the most frustrating things that can happen in a game.

This year, 2K added a new season mode called MLB Today. In this mode, you play one game each day, the same game that your team is playing, and compare with the real-life results of your team. Add this mode to the create-a-player, franchise, and online modes, and 2K12 is as fully-featured as it has ever been. These all work fairly well, but the lack of an option for skipping portions of the create-a-player mode, such as not playing the fielding or the baserunning if you desire, is a shame.

Graphically, 2K12 looks fine. Surprisingly, it looks much better than last year’s version. The players are fairly detailed, and the stadiums look and feel like the real thing. However, the entire presentation is glitzy and flashy, which just doesn’t feel right. It feels like it’s trying to make up for something with the flashiness, which really isn’t necessary this year.

As usual, the commentators are the best in the business. They have a large repertoire of comments to make, and all of them are placed correctly and timed well enough that the commentary almost felt like it was covering a real baseball game. Unfortunately, the soundtrack is more of the same, annoying music that 2K has licensed for the last decade.

For the first time in a long while, the 2K series actually feels fairly respectable. It’s not perfect (and PS3 owners have a better option), but there’s finally a worthwhile baseball game on the Xbox 360.

Pros: Gameplay is much improved over last year, controls are much better, MLB Today Season is an interesting idea
Cons: Soundtrack is annoying, online can’t use new control scheme,; fielding and baserunning are sluggish

Score: 3/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.