Major League Baseball 2K12

Randy Johnson Enjoys The Ad Campaign

We learn all about the art of hitting 400 foot home runs off of Livan Hernandez in Major League Baseball 2K12.
Author: Scott Rodgers
Published: March 28, 2012
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If you remember from last year’s release I did not play The Show prior to reviewing Major League Baseball 2K11. The same applies this year as I have had zero hands on time with MLB 12 The Show. That means my entire virtual baseball experience, for better or worse, has been shaped by Major League Baseball 2K12. While this may elicit some snide messages from Show enthusiasts on my friends list, I’m honestly not too bothered. The 2K series has a soft spot in my heart from my time on the Dreamcast so it is sort of what I grew up with.

One of the big things that Visual Concepts went for this year was the environment. No, nothing here involves Al Gore. What I mean is that Visual Concepts chose to focus on the things that are impacted by the time of the day that the game is played. This means that shadows move as the game progresses and are rather dynamic. It also means that the sun is blasting down and it almost makes me feel like I need some eye black just to play the game. It’s a nice detail that the team nailed and really makes a teams like the Chicago Cubs, who play a lot of day games, rather unique. It also impacts hitting and pitching just like it would in real life.

Unfortunately, these details and the lovingly rendered stadiums (which look excellent) do not overshadow the players themselves. I spoke at length last year about the player’s animations and how robotic they look. That again rears its ugly head and the players on the field do not look fluid at all. A shining example I can think is Neftali Feliz of the Texas Rangers. Because Feliz was a closer last year he had some animations where he fist pumped or celebrated each strikeout. That works when he only has to get three outs but now that he’s a starter it just doesn’t make any sense. Why is Neftali fist pumping after striking out a guy with the bases loaded in the second inning? Worst yet, when this happens the animation, for lack of a better term, “snaps” from one to the next. This means that some animations are cut off, like Feliz’s follow through is abruptly halted and his arm quickly moves in a way that is inhuman to his fist pumping position.

While the fielding and defensive animations are fantastic, some of the batting stances are all wrong. Dustin Pedroia does not bob his bat up and down yet in the game he’s like the right handed version of Travis Hafner. I’m sure if I took the time to look at every single batter that I could populate a list that would rival this review in number of words. For the sake of keeping things brief, let’s just move on but note that the team at Visual Concepts really needs to work on stances as much as they do pitching motions.

The players look great but it’s only really in the face. Last year I spoke about some players looking like lifeless zombies and it seems that Visual Concepts took that to heart. I can’t find any players who look undead but I wish there was a bit more expression. Batters and hitters show absolutely no emotion for big plays beyond the jerky fistpump or an awkward bat flip. There doesn’t seem to be much of a difference in body type with the players beyond being short or tall. Once again, shoes are an issue, they look blocky and blend into the ground. I have no idea what it is about 2K and shoes but they look flat and like they’re pixels of a different color made in a way to look three dimensional instead of a part of the player. The jerseys aren’t as much baggy and flowy as they look more like fat rolls.

From the moment I first booted up MLB 2K12 I was a bit confused. That’s because the menus are confusing and cluttered. Pausing a game brings up the box score and you have to hit the right stick to get into the normal pause options. The main menu has the MLB Today imagery with the Game of the Day and two animated players on either side. Everything else is under that in its own block and while it’s not rocket science to maneuver I do wish they had a more traditional interface. It doesn’t help that there’s a split second of loading between each option so that it can animate or light up. Still, I commend them for trying to do something different and while it’s not for me I’m sure plenty of people will like it.
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