With spring training in full swing, Sony Computer Entertainment is on the verge of releasing the latest iteration of its award-winning Major League Baseball video game MLB 12: The Show on Tuesday, March 6.
This series has been the gold standard of baseball games since the Playstation 3 was released in 2006, and this year's game promises to be the best ever. Upgraded returning features and new innovations have fans everywhere anxiously awaiting the release of the popular franchise.
We are going to give you a deeper look at some of the features — both new and old — as well as a preview of what to expect from The Show this year.
Playstation Move Compatible
Unlike last year's game, which only allowed the Move to be used in the Home Run Derby, you can use it with everything. When you are on the Road to the Show, you can stand in front of your television all day long swinging that controller as much as you want.
You are going to have to master the art of throwing with the Move controller as well. It should not be a difficult adjustment — just make sure that you have it secured on your wrist, otherwise you are going to be spending a few hundred dollars getting a new television.
Pitching, defense, baserunning, everything is going to work with the Move this year, and it's a great selling point for the controller if you have yet to take the plunge.
Revamped Home Run Derby
Video games haven't perfected the Home Run Derby, but this year Sony is doing everything it can to make sure that this new version is going to change that.
The biggest change to the power exhibition this year is everyone can play at the same time. Unlike the real Derby, which forces players to sit and wait until their turn to swing, everyone gets their chance right away.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out on-screen and in the living room, but it sounds like it can create a lot of panic and desperation for whoever is trailing late in the competition.
Upgraded Pitching Mechanics
One of the things that The Show has gotten right where other baseball simulations have fallen behind is in the pitching department.
This year's game will feature a new pulse meter when you are on the mound. When you select a pitch to throw, the ball will appear on-screen and you can use the right stick to move it, which has been the case in the past.
But when you select the pitch, there will also be a pulse that surrounds the ball. You want to hit the button to throw the ball when the pulse is at its smallest point, this will give you a more accurate pitch and better chance to get the hitter out.
The speed of the pulse varies based on level of difficulty you are playing at and the pitcher you are using. If you are using Roy Halladay, odds are he will be easier to sync up with than, say, A.J. Burnett.
Zone Analog Batting
Just because pitching is all the rage in baseball right now, it doesn't mean that the hitters should be forgotten.
Instead of just going back to the same old thing, where you pick a specific zone to swing the bat, you are going to be in complete control of where your hitter will swing thanks to the new Zone Analog Batting.
A graphic, somewhat similar to the pulse meter, will appear on-screen before the pitch is thrown. You can move it to where you want the hitter to direct his swing. Obviously, the bigger the area is where the barrel of the bat is going to go.
This is a big upgrade, because it shows you exactly where the bat is going to be if/when you decide to swing. In the past, you were at the mercy of your memory and the A.I.
More Immersive Camera and Presentation
When something is working, there is a temptation not to mess with it. But one of the biggest flaws in the game has been the commentary and camera work. They weren't bad, per se, but it was clear that the developers fell into a pattern.
What this year's game will give fans is a real experience, with camera cuts like you would see on an actual Major League game, and improved commentary that will make a point of acknowledging milestones in a season.
Considering how bland the commentary had gotten in the game, this is a most-welcome change to the presentation.
There are over 70 new and improved features in the game this year, so we could go on and on about all the ways that this year's game will be an improvement of 2011, but there really is not enough time in the day.
The upgrades that we talked about are the best of the best, and highlight the reasons why you need to pick up this game on Tuesday at midnight. Don't wait until you wake up, because all of them will be gone. Probably not, but there is doubt in your head right now.
MLB 12: The Show is the gold standard by which all other baseball simulations are measured, and the developers are doing everything they can to make sure that fans get the best possible experience.