|System: PS3, PS2, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: SCEA San Diego||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SCEA (SONY)||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 4, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
Another edition of Sony's MLB simulator is here just in time for Spring Training. The title released for the entire Sony family of consoles. As you might expect, the PS3 version stands head and shoulders above the other two, however, the PS2 and PSP versions are very compelling in their own right. All three games do a good job of using the available computing power of their respective consoles to bring the professional baseball experience to gamers everywhere. If you own a Sony and like hardball, stick with the home team; SCEA San Diego has created a near-perfect baseball simulator.
In MLB 08: The Show, players can select from a number of game modes, including Franchise, Season, Manager, Road to the Show, Mini-Games, and Online play. These modes are almost identical to last year's edition, but they do incorporate various improvements that make the game even better. Some enhancements include Road to the Show 2.0, Progressive Batting Performance, the Rob Home Run Indicator, Batter and Pitcher Analysis Tool, SCOUT (for PS3 only), Pitch Grips, and Three-Man Progressive Commentary. All of these features combine to make for smooth play and the most realistic baseball game ever made.
The Road to the Show 2.0 mode has seen quite a bit of fine tuning this time around. For those of you unfamiliar with the original Road to the Show, it allows you to create a Big Leaguer and mold him into a superstar by taking on in-game challenges that are pertinent to your player alone. Like last year, your created player will still be able to play both offense and defense, but now the goal system has been greatly expanded. Your player will earn points by meeting the challenges and achieving his goals or even lose points for failing to reach them. These points will then be applied toward the new career advancement system which will determine when your player is ready for a promotion. If you're playing as shortstop and can't consistently "turn two," you'll see your player's league rank steadily fall. The new challenges and improved goal advancement system make for a much more gripping experience.
The new Progressive Batting Performance feature is a great nuance too. This is only available on the extended career modes of play because the new system actually tracks your players' hitting streaks over time. If you've got a couple of guys that are hitting far above their averages, they will enjoy a nice boost in confidence. The opposite is also true. If you've got someone who's slumping badly, you'll have to become more disciplined by laying off pitches for a while in order to get him on base and back on track.
The new Rob Home Run Indicator is a fielding meter that is useful for both deep balls and pop fly foul balls that stay close to the field of play. The way the system works is as follows: if a fly ball is hit deep and looks to be going yard, you can rob the hitter by tracking back with the ball and timing your jump. You'll know the line you're supposed to take and when to leap because of the indicator. The indicator will use a series of fading rings that represent the path that the ball is taking. When the last ring of the bull's-eye fades, jump and you'll rob the batter of a home run or simply get him to take a seat.
There's also a really neat Batter and Pitcher Analysis tool which can be used during ABs (at bats). It allows you to analyze the tendencies of batters or where pitchers typically locate their pitches. This gives players an edge in tight situations. It also helps to more accurately capture the duel between pitcher and batter, and that's what baseball's all about. This tool changes with every pitcher and every batter that you use or encounter. If you make a habit of checking the analysis during every duel, over the course of a season you'll become uncannily familiar with the oppositions' players.