In 2012 MLB The Show has made the leap from the PSP to the PS Vita, and all the extra power has done wonders. The Vita version plays so much like PS3 version, that I’m actually going to ask you to read our review of the console game because the sentiments there almost always apply to the Vita version as well. This review will focus on the differences between the two games.
While it is true that the Vita version doesn’t have the graphical fidelity or the TV style presentation found on the PS3, it is still drop dead gorgeous. It is safe to say a handheld baseball game has never looked this good. Somehow, SCE Studios San Diego has managed to cram ALL the baseball into that little package. All the animation, all the stadiums, all the tiny little details are present. If you own both versions, you might miss feeling the controller rumbling to mimic your heart beating during an important at-bat, but otherwise you aren’t going to feel like you are having a lesser experiment.
Missing from the Vita version are the Rivals mode and the interesting Diamond Dynasty mode which allows you to build your own unique team with card packs. I would have been fun to take the “New Jersey Thrifty Nerds” along with me on the road, with their awful orange uniforms and their weird hot dog logo, but this mode is new to the PS3, so it is understandable that it didn’t make the cut on the handheld platform.
The “Road to the Show” (RTTS) mode is in full effect on the Vita, and it is really the ultimate mobile baseball game. The bite-sized, five to ten minute games are the perfect length for your mobile outings – like riding a bus, or waiting in line, or, um, killing time in the bathroom. Everything from the PS3 version is here. You follow a single player as he starts out as an 18 year old kid on an AA ball club, and watch him rise to the majors as he hopefully has a Hall of Fame caliber career.
You will also find fully fleshed out versions of Season and Franchise modes on the Vita. Maybe the most exciting feature is that you can save your PS3 game to the cloud, and then pick up where you left off on the Vita. It’s a pretty big investment to purchase both versions, but being able to jump back and forth between the two with one save file is like something out of a sci-fi movie.
Control schemes are almost identical on the Vita, at least where it really counts. The second analog stick means that you will have no problems using the analog batting and pitching. The only real difference is the lack of a second trigger. This only affects base running and diving for balls when you are playing the field. I actually found the streamlined controls on the Vita easier to use. The Vita also adds some touch functionality, which you can use for picking pitch location, or guessing zone locations while batting.
Just like on the PS3, the online multiplayer leaves a lot to be desired, and I mostly avoided it. It’s hard to count this against the game since there is enough single player content to keep you occupied until MLB 13 The Show is released. Load times are long, and they become more pronounced when you are burning through a bunch of quick games in RTTS. It is a bit annoying, but when you consider the amazing things taking place on your handheld, it is worth the wait.
Most people won’t be able to buy both the PS3 and Vita versions of MLB 12 The Show. If you own a Vita, and are trying to choose between the two, I suggest getting the Vita version over the PS3. It isn’t quite as beautiful, and it only has most of the gameplay modes, but it is so darn close, that the freedom of having it on a handheld easily wins out. Maybe next year when owning a Vita is more common, it will be a harder decision, but for now, go with the Vita version all the way.
This review is based on a retail copy of the PS Vita version of MLB 12 The Show provided by Sony. It is also available for the PS3.