|System: PS2, Wii, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Konami||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: 2k Sports||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: July 28, 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 Pete Richards
Power Pros has been around in Japan since 1994, known as Jikkyo Powerful Pro Yakyu, and for those who slept on its North American debut last year, MLB Power Pros 2008 is your chance to find out why it has been so popular overseas for the past 14 years. With a great response to the debut, 2K has brought it back to the PS2 with a few new additions to attract newcomers to the franchise.
Those seeking a more fun and relaxed, less technical and time-consuming baseball game, Power Pros is one the whole family can enjoy. Graphically, from the get-go, you can presume this game was made with the Wii in mind. Cute, legless character models slightly resemble their real-life counterparts - Manny Ramirez has dreads sprouting from underneath his cap and David Ortiz has his chinstrap beard. Everything from the brightly colored, easy to read and navigate menus to the spirited party music makes this game family-friendly and geared towards those who probably don't spend every waking moment of spare time with a game controller in hand.
The pitching and batting mechanics work well for a simplistic game of this sort, and though it was designed for the Wii, PS2 owners will have just as much fun playing this as its debut last year. The way you hold the bat in position and swing it over the plate would make perfect use of the Wii-mote, though the Left Analog does a fine job on the PS2. Hitting the ball on time requires you to hit X just as the ball crosses the plate, though getting the ball to go where you want is the real trick, and it takes time to learn how to line them up well. In fact, strikes happen quite frequently whether you're playing on either the pitching or batting end.
Pitching is as simple as placing the ball where you want inside the strike zone and hitting X, and more experienced gamers will have no problem striking out the CPU. Seeing batters swing and come up with big whiffers is amusing, as the batter does a 180 and lands on his butt with his eyes swirled out of control. And it might be a good idea to keep a couple pitchers in the bullpen. They can tire easily or become dazed on the mound - with stars around their heads and all - and begin to throw wildly. There isn't a whole lot to fielding or base-running, and those used to more complex baseball titles may actually have a hard time simplifying their style to get used to the slow movements and basic controls of these little guys. Don't let the cuteness of MLB Power Pros fool you - winning an Exhibition match on even Normal setting has its difficulties at times.
Though not much has changed from last year to 2008, this title does offer some new features. The first noticeable improvement is the addition of MLB Life Mode. In it, you'll take an existing player or create a new one to work your way up to the majors and live out a 20-year career. If you're familiar with last year's title and Success Mode, it's the same idea. Instead of playing as a student in a college-based JRPG, you'll be managing car and house payments, building stats and relationships, and basically becoming the biggest superstar you can be.