Spring is really a great time of the year. You have March Madness for College Basketball, the regular season for the NBA is wrapping up, and of course the bats and gloves are starting to come out of the closet and back into the spotlight. Today we are checking out MLB 08: The Show, the latest baseball title from Sony which hopes to ride in on the momentum that last years first outing on the PS3 started. Can Sony manage to continue to improve their baseball franchise to become to the top game out on the market? Read our full review of MLB 08: The Show for the PS3 to find out.
Last year I gave MLB 07: The Show a 7 out of 10 score. One of the keywords I used throughout the review was "potential," something I was excited to see if the developers really expanded upon in this year’s game. A lot of what the game did right last year was getting the fundamentals down, and it looked as though this year the they were going to need to expand upon that experience. So how did the game end up?
I have to say that after giving this game a sincere run through, not only have the developers gone through and fixed some of the nagging issues of last years game, but they have really improved almost every area of gameplay you could imagine. Let’s start with some of the more notable - pitching, which is much improved by the ability to see how much movement your pitch is going to have. So when you lineup to throw a breaking ball you can get a better idea of how far your ball is going to break to try and keep it in or out of the strike zone. Speaking of the strike zone, the guys at Sony have expanded the statistics analysis of this game to the extreme. Tendencies is a big part of the hitting/pitching experience and you can get a good idea in this game of what the batters strengths and weaknesses are. The addition of these stats are actually something more for the player who wants to full experience and not necessarily a pick up and play game.
The best aspect out of a lot of very good features in MLB 08:The Show is the Road to the Show mode. Basically its a fancy name for a career mode, but this is really the first career mode done right in a sports game. The developers take a lot of what’s great about RPG’s and brings that to the baseball diamond. Just to give you an idea of how the mode works I created two different careers. My first career started as a pitcher for the Angels - I went through Spring Training as an Angel and then was sent down to AA ball where I started to build up my players stats, and before you know it I was sent to the AAA team. The progression of the career is actually fantastic and being a pitcher means that your not going to be playing every game which helps to have the season go by much quicker.
When playing with my second created player I went with the Angels again, but this time as a shortstop. The progression as a short stop was much slower. My slugging percentage struggled, and playing every game made this an even deeper mode to play. One of the things that struggled was base-running which was near impossible to try and figure out if you should run or not. Now the camera has been improved a great deal to help see where the ball is going and make better decisions around the bases.
The game also includes a full fledged franchise mode, which is by far the deepest franchise mode in a baseball game out right now. There are so many options, and things to customize that I am not even going to get into them. This is one of those experiences that if you’re going to want to really get a full fledged franchise experience, this game has what you want.
That is not all by the way, the online play for MLB 08: The Show is fantastic, a huge improvement over last years’ iteration. There are league and tournament modes that you can jump into, as well as a new Scout feature which is like a full fledged quick play with a bit more options. The connections were great, I played in a handful of games and really thought the lag which I found to be a bit "iffy" before to be a non-issue.
There is so much good in terms of gameplay in MLB 08: The Show. The Road to the Show I truly believe is the main attraction and offers up one of the best career experiences out there. The online play gives another solid experience with plenty of depth and yet also supporting quick play. The franchise mode, which now lets you save in the middle of a game, is as deep as they come. And the gameplay, although not 100% perfect, has been improved a great deal over last year’s experience.
Visually MLB 08: The Show is a stunning game to look at, it truly has been improved a great deal over last year’s game. I wasn’t really sure how much I liked the graphics in last year’s game, but this year they are really firing on all cylinders, especially on a HDTV set. I have to say that more then anything in the game, it captures the atmosphere of a baseball stadium tremendously. Going from a AA stadium to Yankee Stadium or Wrigley Field really is captured to the fullest extent. The character models aren’t necessarily all that spectacular, the big name players are done well but a lot of the second tier players are rather bland.
There is just a lot of content placed on this Blu-Ray disc. As you can see already this review is already longer then my normal review. After playing through what I would consider the majority of what MLB 08: The Show has to offer I have to say it is one of the best baseball games I have ever played. Right out of the gate you have so many different options of where you can take this game. Some may dislike the lack of change in control schemes, but I never have been sold on the transition to all analog stick gameplay, and I think this game shows that sometimes an older method can be a better method of gameplay.
MLB 08: The Show is the best baseball game on the market this year, hands down. Not only does this game have a lot of content but it also offers up a really well rounded game of baseball to go along with it. If you’re a fan of the great American past time then MLB 08: The Show is the best game on the market today.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.