For years, 2K Sports has had basketball, football and hockey on lockdown. No one could touch them. Every game they put out was better than the last. There was however, some strict competition in the baseball arena. No matter how much they put into their baseball games, the MLB series from Sony was always a step ahead. This year is no different. MLB08 is simply the greatest baseball game ever made.
Sony released versions of MLB08 for PSP, PS2 and PS3. All 3 versions are the best for each console. The PS3 version has custom soundtracks, custom character design, a replay vault, pitcher and batter analysis, online play, real stats and updates from the MLB and of course, some of the best graphics I’ve ever seen in a sports game.
I was completely blown away with MLB08’s graphics. I will go as far as saying that no other sports game looks as good as MLB08. NBA2K8 comes a real close second. They put so much detail into the players and the lighting system that you could easily be fooled into thinking this game is the real thing. The character editor alone is worth it’s weight in gold. It’s the most detailed character editor I’ve ever seen. You can modify just about anything and everything about your characters looks, from the skin tone all the way down to the shape of the eyes. You can put yourself into the game with about 30min of customization. The players that come with the game look exactly like their real life counterparts.
Other nice graphic features are the footprints in the dirt, broken bats and even the dirt that actually stays on your clothes after sliding on the ground. The stadiums are fully rendered to look exactly like the real life counterparts. Running around the bases kicks up small clouds of dirt and debris. Did they leave no stone unturned?
MLB08 has tons of options. You can add custom music, read headlines about your games and players, create players, play quick, exhibition, franchise, season and manager modes and even run your created players through and entire career in Road To The Show mode. There’s also an in-depth online mode.
Gameplay is smooth as silk. There’s awesome batting and pitching functions that allow even the greenest of MLB players to enjoy the game. Batting is handled using 3 swings; a regular swing, a power swing and a bunt. You can control which zone you swing for using the left analogue stick. There’s also a guess the pitch feature which enables you to try and guess the pitch type and zone the ball is being pitched in. If you guess correctly, you’ll get increased power and accuracy in your hits.
Pitching is also refined somewhat. It makes use of the standard colorbar swing meter. There’s also an assist function in which the catcher tells you what pitches to use and which zone to pitch them in. This all changes depending on who is hitting. You can also use the in-game pitching and hitting analysis tools to help you decide how to pitch.
One of the greatest features of the game for me was the ability to save a game and go back and finish it later. 9 inning games are really long and sometimes you just can’t play them out in one sitting. With the save feature you can save the game at any point and load it up later to play.
The one thing that was in the PS2 version that they left out of this version was the Eye Toy face capture utility. This would have saved much time on character creation. The Home Run Derby is non-existent in MLB08. This would be great for beginners because hitting the ball has somewhat of a learning curve. Other than that I cannot complain. I’m still playing my Spring Training games and will move on to do my full season soon.
MLB08 is a real gem and you’d be a fool not to pick this one up if you weren’t a fan of the game. This first MLB title for the PS3 truly shows what the system can do. I can only hope that the next version of MLB outdoes this one, but it will be a difficult task.