MLB 08: The Show Review

Last winter when I named MLB Power Pros one of the Wii Games of the Year, I got a lot of flak about it. Hell, people still feel the need to tell me how wrong I was. I say the same thing now I said then: be a fan of baseball and play the game, and you’ll see why it was the best baseball game available. Until now.

Not since the first NFL 2K has a sports game come along and so readily replaced a game that was-until that point-the de facto number 1. Sony’s MLB series has always been considered one of the premiere baseball franchises (is it that hard when you only regularly have two?) but in years past it was overshadowed by 2K, and more recently Power Pros. MLB 05 remained the best game in the series, and even to this day there are still people who swear by it. But while 06 and 07 struggled to live up to the legacy 05 left behind, MLB 08: The Show surpasses it easily.

I have no qualms stating that MLB 08 is my favorite baseball game of all time. I don’t even hesitate. The gameplay is tight, the visuals and graphics are incredibly detailed, and all of the little things that made baseball our national pastime are realized with Sony’s latest venture onto the diamond.

With the most basic gameplay, not much has changed since 07 except for a few small performance tweaks and bug fixes here and there. The pitching meter is the same, and batting is once again done by the square and x buttons rather than the analog sticks like 2K8.

Last year Road to the Show was one of the few saving graces, and this year the developers have answered just about every complaint fans had, and made 08’s Road to the Show the greatest single player experience in any baseball game to date, and arguably any sports game to date. You start off by creating your player with incredible detail (you know, that whole face model tweaking thing), and pick your position and team. Then it’s off to spring training, where you get to realize just how much your player sucks. After that’s done it’s off to the minors, and you begin your path of working your way to the big league.

Unlike last time (and most sports games), you are not going to be an MVP candidate after one year. It takes time to improve and move up, and that’s one in the form of earning training points for completing goals in-game and performing well. Use the points to increase abilities and meet advancement goals set by your computer manager; if you ignore any categories, though, they begin to deterioriate, so it’s important to at least train in all areas every now and then.

My favorite fix for Road is the ability to move before the pitch. Last year, it sucked playing a position like short and missing that double play or pick-off because you couldn’t slide into position. Now, you can do so, and the computer will even offer hints of the direction you may want to go towards.

Not only does Road to the Show allow you to be integrated into your own player’s career, but for those of you without the time or patience for baseball, you only play your at-bats or other defensive series where you’re involved. Sometimes the game gets tricky by having you get ready, only to have the pitcher throw a strike and load to your next event.

While Road to the Show can easily monopolize all of your time in MLB 08, there’s plenty more to do. The franchise and other modes are just as robust as ever, and for those of you in for the long haul, you can save your games mid-game and return to them later. No more requiring an hour or two to play a game of baseball for those of us with less free time than we used to have.

Unfortunately, while The Show gets almost everything perfect, there are a few minor issues that come up. There’s a lot of small issues here and there, and it’s really perplexing why they occur. For example, sometimes when your home run hits the foul post they call it a foul ball; other times when you’re base-running your runner will run through the bag and go for the next base even if you tell him to stay. The tiny issues aren’t close to game-breaking, but with how great the rest of the game is, they really take away from the moment.

Still, despite the few nuances here and there, MLB 08: The Show is the best baseball game on the market. Baseball fans and non-fans will enjoy it, and for the first time since NFL 2k we have a sports game that’s a must-get for any owner of the console it’s on.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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