As for the pulse pitching, well, the less said about that feature the better. While Zone Plus Analog at least has the benefit of being an advanced control option with a true to life rhythm, the rapidly shrinking and enlarging circle that comprises pulse pitching mostly just made us feel nauseous. It wasn't hard to time the pitch button with the circle, but it wasn't satisfying either. It wasn't long before we went back to the much more intuitive analog pitching, which does a far better job of capturing the overall rhythm of throwing the ball.
The tweaks to the controls aside, MLB: The Show's other major feature is Diamond Dynasty -- a monetized, collectible card game-type feature that ought to be familiar to most sports gamers, as it has appeared in Madden, NHL, FIFA, and other major franchises. We're told the mode has its fans, but to us at least, it's always come off as a rather uninspired way to squeeze more money out of devoted players by charging a fee nominal for the packs of cards. We suppose we should wonder what took Sony so long to get into the act.
Here's the thing though. Even if you're collecting cards and building a custom team, Diamond Dynasty is an online mode, and there's little to suggest that online play has significantly improved over previous iterations. In our test match, it was every bit as lag-filled as ever. The timing is such that you have to swing the bat <i>after</i> the ball has disappeared, or you will be marked as having swung too early. Things may improve on retail servers, but we doubt it. This is a netcode issue, if anything. Given how precise the frames need to be, isn't it time that Sony San Diego find a way to adapt something like the netcode GGPO? It's done wonders for fighting games like Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online Edition, which require equally precise timing.
Online has been a nagging issues with this game for years, and no amount of PlayStation Move support will fix that (Note: MLB 12 features complete support for PS Move now. We were unable to test that particular feature, but it's there, for those who are interested.) And there are other features that could use updating as well. We love that franchise mode has better trade logic, but why is there no accountability for losing too much? No goals like the ones found in Road to the Show? There's always new places to take the single player, but franchise mode has hardly changed over the years.
With that in mind, there's less incentive than in years past to pick up the PS3 version of The Show this year. If you're the lucky owner of a PlayStation Vita, think about that edition first, which at least has the novelty of being portable, as well as supporting cross-compatible saves (if you're really itching to play both). We're not asking that Sony rebuild from scratch, and thus risk throwing out a great baseball sim out with the proverbial bathwater. But there is a sense of diminishing returns with this franchise that is becoming worrisome. It still has the power to dazzle, but Sony should take care lest the best baseball series of this generation grow stagnant.
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