When it comes to handheld conversions of console games, the results have a tendency to be mixed at best. Because of one limitation or another, handheld versions of the games available on today’s consoles usually are more limited offerings that capture some of the essence of home console version, but don’t really offer the experience per se. The PlayStation Vita is closer to a modern home console than perhaps any handheld before it and the result of the Vita’s capabilities are easier to see than ever in MLB 12: The Show, which is an extremely faithful and feature-packed version of its PS3 counterpart that baseball fans should look forward to taking with them on the go.
MLB 12: The Show on PS3 is brimming with presentation from every last camera angle and every possible moment from baseball captured in the game. Although the Vita version doesn’t quite have that same level of detail, it does have a great many of the same core elements that make the PS3 version so good. The game still has just about every play in baseball and still captures all of those in-game moments, just without the television style that the PS3 version has. The Vita version still has good lighting, well-detailed players, tons of statistics and all of the elements at the core of The Show that draw players into the experience.
The Vita may have fewer buttons and less storage capability than the PS3 on its game medium, but isn’t really impeded by being on a handheld, with a few exceptions. If a mode is on both the PS3 and Vita versions of The Show, players can rest assured that they are going to see every — or nearly every — feature of that mode in the Vita version. Road To The Show, Season, and Franchise modes make the transition over virtually completely intact for easy cloud save transfers that don’t leave Vita owners feeling like they should be playing on their PS3s for the full experience. On the contrary: The Show on Vita really does feel like a majority of the content and experience came over, including all of the teams and the ability to download live rosters. The only full modes that didn’t make the transfer over were Rivalry and Diamond Dynasty modes.
The Show on Vita is also just every bit as statistic driven and packs just as much depth as the PS3 version. For the most part — albeit with slight alterations to controls — the game plays the same way, still pushing for that same fusion of video game player ability and baseball player ability. The only slight drawback to playing on the Vita version is how tight the analog sticks are on the handheld. The DualShock 3’s analog sticks have much better range of movement than Vita’s, which allows for easier range of movement for picking pitching spots on the PS3 version. However, that is by no means a deal-breaker for the Vita version whatsoever — it takes a little getting used to, but mostly ends up feeling just different rather than a drawback.
The Vita version also includes some touch controls that are very smooth and just as reliable as buttons, if not more so. Advancing basemen and picking off basemen on the move as a pitcher on the mound are especially easily executed. Simple swipes in the appropriate direction advance basemen or send them backwards without hesitation. Swiping to pick off basemen on the mound is even easier than the button configuration for it. Using a finger to select pitch locations isn’t quite precise enough (it can require more time to get right than using the analog stick) and the odd combination of front and rear touchscreen for certain applications seems awkward, but those are the exceptions to an otherwise smooth touch control experience.
Cloud storage on the Vita version works quite easily and simply. Just select the option to upload to the cloud in Road To The Show, Season, or Franchise mode and the game will have the save uploaded in record time. Or, conversely, download from the cloud — also in record time — and player progress in those modes will be made available to the Vita version without any hassle. The Show provides as seamless an experience as possible between cloud saves. Future PS3 games with Vita versions should use the Vita version of The Show as an example of how cloud saving should work: quickly, seamlessly and effortlessly.
However, for all of the strengths of the Vita version, online multiplayer lag seems to impact it significantly. I encountered significant lag problems in nearly every single game that I played online, most of which resulted in the game being disconnected. In one game, I had made it all of the way to the 9th inning after overcoming a six run deficit, only for the game to freeze when I went to the bullpen. I finally unfroze the game by hitting the PS button on the Vita, at which point I was told that my game was forfeited. I also encountered a “traffic delay” message, which brought my game of The Show to a standstill. At one point, the delay lasted as long as a few minutes.
MLB 12 The Show on Vita is a great baseball title for gamers to take on the go with them. The Vita version does have a little more to offer for owners of the PS3 version, but as a standalone game, still offers an incredible, in-depth baseball experience that will keep even the most hardcore of baseball fans interested for quite some time. Like the PS3 version, the depth may be initially quite a hurdle for newcomers. However, with time and practice, they can learn the basics and still find plenty to enjoy in the game. The online multiplayer lag hurts it and the tightness of the analog sticks may make pitching spots tough to select at times, but they’re still not enough to detract from the strength of the core of what’s offered here: a high quality baseball game that any baseball enthusiast could easily enjoy.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
+ Cloud saving, mostly well-executed touch controls.
– Lag during online multiplayer games can negatively impact the experience.