Like a grizzled veteran who rocks a shelf full of MVP trophies and is unthreatened by any up-and-comers on the farm system, ‘MLB 12: The Show‘ no longer has the eye of the tiger. Instead, it just coasts, does the awesome things you expect it to do and calls it a day.

That’s not necessarily a knock on the game, which is far and away the best baseball sim out there. Its lone competitor, ‘MLB 2K12,’ posts about as much of a challenge as your 6-year-old nephew’s coach pitch team would to the New York Yankees. But consider ‘The Show’s’ laurels to be unashamedly rested upon.

At a quick glance, there’s not much of a change from last year’s game. Sony’s San Diego studio, which develops the franchise, did all its heavy lifting in the past few years, and generally just slapped just enough tweaks and refinements on the latest edition to get its fans to ante up once again. The lame, stale-as-your-granny’s-candy commentary is still there, and the My Player mode — in which you guide a big-leaguer to stardom — is basically the same version your ancestors played on their Sony AbacusStation 2s.

The coolest new features in ‘The Show’ are about how you can play it rather than what you’re playing. For one thing, you can now play the PS3 version simply by waving around that glowing sex toy-looking, motion-controller wand known as the PlayStation Move. Previously the Move was limited to gimmicky home run derby-type nonsense, but now the Move lets you run, pitch, hit and field. Our favorite application was base-running, in which you use gestures a first or third base coach would to tell your runners to stay or go. The motion controls are as forgiving as a Fisher Price spelling game, but if you’re using motion controls to play a baseball you probably aren’t taking it all that seriously in the first place.

Also ding-ding-dinging the neat-o meter is the Vita version’s ability to swap cloud saves with the PS3 game. You could be deep into a World Series run when your better half kicks you out because Smash, Once Upon a Time or something else as stupid as that is coming on, and you could save your file, access it on the Vita and not lose a step. Granted, you’d need to make an investment of at least $300 to make this happen, given the cost of the Vita, the portable game and a memory card, but at least retailers will give you $20 off if you buy the Show on the PS3 and Vita at the same time. If you’re a video game baseball geek and already own a PS3 and Vita, the games definitely gives you $80 worth of baseball lovin’. So consider your purchase justified.

If you’re going to pick between the systems, we’d recommend choosing the Vita version. Sure, it’s a little gimped because it lacks a mode or two that the PS3 edition has, but it’s $20 cheaper, portable, plays a little faster and looks just as good. If you’re hard up for cash and still satisfied with ‘MLB 11 The Show,’ this year might be a good one to sit out.

Rating: 8.5/10

‘MLB 12 The Show’ ($60 on PlayStation 3 and $40 on Vita) was developed and published by Sony. The publisher provided copies of the games for review.

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