MLB 08 The Show
For: PlayStation 3
Genre: Simulation, Sports
ESRB Rating: Everyone (6+)
MLB 08 The Show
If you've played MLB '07, the fact that great improvements have been made to MLB '08 won't be a surprise -- '07 simply didn't set the bar very high --, but to the relief of baseball gamers in general, the improvements to '08 are in the most important places, making the whole shebang a worthy entry into the series.
First off, MLB '08 is simply gorgeous and animated gorgeously. Everything from the stadiums to the fans therein, from the fields to the players thereon, all show marked improvements. It's very cool, for example, to see players go through all their little (sometimes quite extensive) "pre-pitch" routines, settle into to their unique batting stances, their tailored swings and throwing styles. You'll be hard-pressed to not think that you're watching a television broadcast as you're playing a game -- even the commentary is tremendously simpatico, as are the stats displays, etcetera, etcetera. Excellent presentation, for the most part...
Another thing: When you name your game "The Show" and have a career mode called "The Road to the Show," you'd better capture the essence that iconic dream, except MLB 07 failed miserably on that front, again leaving plenty of room for improvement. For the most part, MLB 08 has addressed The Show shortcomings of the Previous Show, like removing the ridiculous "goal system" where you needed to accomplish certain in-game tasks in order to advance. There are also more options for player creation, making it more akin to Your Show rather than 07's The Cardboard Cutout Show.
Having said all that, MLB 08 still lacks in all
major areas -- passably lacking as a game for PS2, a lower-powered system in its twilight, but as a cutting edge PlayStation3 title, it just doesn't cut so much. Sure, the game looks great, but the collision detection is horrible. For example, you'll see the great looking arms of those great looking players go right through great looking walls, or worse another great looking player. And the "Road to the Show" mode, while hugely improved, takes waaaay too long if you try playing your way through the minors on your way to the pros -- not to mention the fact that your personal stats -- such as batting averages -- don't matter, so what's the point?
Still, considering the lack of quality baseball games available for PlayStation3, MLB 08: The Show is by far the best, though mostly by acclamation. It still has notable flaws, but it's worth playing if you're Jonesing for baseball. And hey, it's a major step up from last's year's MLB. But there's more step ups to be made, so here's to MLB 09.