MLB '08: The Show - Video Game Review and Contest

 

I was recently forwarded a copy of Sony's MLB '08: The Show for review. I have to admit I was a bit giddy over getting a free copy since I grew up on baseball video games, starting with Hardball on the Commodore 64. Up until about three years ago, I would still pretty much play a full season out on EA's MVP Baseball 2005. This was my first games since then, so pardon me if I'm a little behind the times.

I requested a PS2 copy since I've yet to take the plunge for a PS3, and quickly popped in my copy when it arrived via FedEx. The intro montage that is common with all video games was as snazzy as ever, highlighting the milestones over the past year. Thome, Thomas and A-Rod hitting 500, Sosa hitting 600, Glavine's 300 and so forth. Noticeably missing was Craig Biggio's 3000th hit, something that gave me a smile. I imagine it had more to do with a contract with the players union which he is no longer a member of since his retirement, but I still appreciated the slight of a long-term Cubs nemesis.

The menu screen popped up and you have all your expected features, franchise and season modes, exhibition, home run derby, manager mode and so on. I went with the "Quick Game" just to get started and picked the Pirates versus the Cubs at Wrigley.

There's quite an extended intro if you want from the announcers as they set-up the game and go through the lineups. The ballpark render looked decent, albeit unspectacular. I do imagine they look better on PS3 version. I studied up on the basics and was ready to play.

Naturally I had Zambrano take the mound and I threw the first pitch - a 4-seam fastball that ended up about 5 feet outside. It was nice to see that they decided to make the game realistic. Of course, I just wasn't use to the pitching interface, but as the game went on I was actually impressed by the realism. One of my all-time favorite baseball video games was High Heat for the PC, and one of the main reasons I liked it was for how well it balanced simulation with arcade play. They did a great job of making it difficult for certain pitchers to throw strikes and as they got more tired over the course of the game, their control went with it. It was nice to see a game pick up on that feature. By the 6th inning I was already up to 100 pitches on Zambrano and I don't think you can get more realistic than that.

I won't bore you with the rest of the details of the games I played. I'll just outline what I feel are the pros and (very few) cons of the game. I didn't get into the season or franchise modes, but I imagine those are pretty standard by now. I do know it has online element where you can play a single game or join leagues. More importantly, you can download the latest rosters as the game was missing Kosuke Fukudome and featured a lineup of Mark DeRosa in right field and Mike Fontenot in second. That should be corrected right after Opening Day I believe.

I thought the game play was fantastic except for a few exceptions which I'll explain in a minute. The game felt pretty real. You really needed an eye at the plate and could work the count when you were batting. On the pitching side, they didn't make it too easy to throw a strike. It seems to me that most video games get that wrong and most AB's only last a couple of pitches. The player animations felt pretty natural, the baserunning was simple enough, although there were a lot of extra features that I didn't even get into on running the bases. They have some intuitive features to analyze your swing and timing as well, and some quick menus to help get the bullpen going, visit the mound or set your infield.

My two chief complaints were that the ballparks could have looked a little better and the pitchers were way too slow between pitches. There was nothing that glaringly stood out in the ballparks that I checked out, unlike EA's MVP 2005 which featured fireworks at Wrigley Field. But the scoreboard graphics on some of the parks looked a little off and the crowd animations were pretty weak. A minor detail, but the kind of stuff you'd like to have for the full experience.

The pitchers though took way too long between pitches, either when I was controlling them or waiting for a pitch. There was quite a delay between picking up the sign and the windup. Even worse, the pitching meter in the wind-up had a completely different timing than in the stretch. I imagine that was on purpose to further enhance the simulation experience, but I had a much harder time in the wind-up than the stretch...and it should be the opposite. There is a "Fast Mode" on the game, but that just seemed to cut-down on extraneous cutaways and waiting for the ball to get thrown back to the pitcher. The pitcher still took forever to get the sign, get into the windup and throw a pitch.

Not to end on a downer because I really did enjoy the game and will likely try to play a season this year (with lots of simulated games). This was probably the closest game I've seen to High Heat and there's a good chance that my memory of High Heat is better than it actually was. If you want a realistic feeling video game with some neat features, I don't think you can go wrong with MLB '08: The Show.

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I happened to receive 5 PS3 copies of the game as well and wanted to give them out in a contest that would wrap up around when the season started. If you'd like to enter, follow this link and answer the questions. Each question is weighted equally and the top 5 finishers will win. If you don't have a PS3 or just aren't interested in the games, you should still enter. You can always sell your copy on Ebay or a local video game store. And you still don't want it, I'll donate it to a local children's charity by my neck of the woods.

You have until Friday 11pm CST to enter and we should have the results by Opening Day. Of course, if you don't want to wait for that, consider buying it through us via amazon.com and we make a buck or two to help pay for things around here (PS3, PS2 and PSP from left to right).

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Comments

Rob G:
Naturally I had Zambrano take the mound and I threw the first pitch - a 4-seam fastball that ended up about 5 feet outside. It was nice to see that they decided to make the game realistic.

lol

got friends in the military as im sure many of you do as well, but jeez those guys play the SHIT out of mlb the show. for some it takes over their lives! (when theyre not playing madden or tiger woods golf that is..)

as you were.

oh and i forgot to mention something.

worst game ever has got to be tommy lasorda baseball for the sega genesis circa 1989. can anybody back me up here??

you gotta love "baseball" for the original nintento though.

My gaming experience pretty much stops at the Super NES.  For
Nintendo, I still have "baseball" and play it maybe once a year, when
I'm really, really bored.  And yeah, I love it.  The "Y" team
is the best!!!!

Sadly, I never owned either baseball stars or rbi baseball.  Ken Griffey Jr.s Winning Run for Super NES is ok.

 

Oh,
and nice review rob.  I also LOLed at the "realistic" line. 
How long would you say the pause between pitches was?  I'm so used
to being able to chuck a video game pitch like every 5 seconds, I
wonder if a "natural" pause of 15-20 makes it feel ridiculously
long....  Or are we talking something trachsel-esque? 

 

Not that a Mets fan's opinion is worth anything,  (~grin~)  but here's another review for anyone interested.

 

 

 

How long would you say the pause between pitches was?

I'm use to getting the pitch and firing it back within like 2 seconds. When your in the stretch and in "Fast Game" mode, it's maybe 3-5 seconds when your pitching. When your winding up, it feels like 5-7 seconds for the little power meter to go. When hitting, it's about 6-10 seconds for the pitcher to throw something. Felt like forever to me... 

Baseball Stars for the original NES was the best. It was the first game to track stats and let you pull manuevers that still werent available in some games for years to come.

I got the mlb 2k8 for my Wii.

My arm hurt for a day from the throwing and batting.

I can't find away to shut off the announcers...Jon Miller and Joe Morgan.

UGh.

jacos:
I can't find away to shut off ... Joe Morgan

lol... This isn't '08 The Show, right, or is it? Is it realistic? Fun?

Ryno,

This is different from the Show, but same idea.

Witht he Wii, you have to flick your wrist with a timed pitch. And when you bat you swing the remote like a bat.

I made Wood my closer, and he has the Bugs Bunny curve ball that he had 1998. Hopefully I don't blow my wrist out.

We'll know it was a bad idea if you end up under the knife for arthroscopic surgery in a couple months.

Really, though, I'm toying with the idea of getting one of those Wiis. I don't usually get the latest game consoles, but that looks like fun.

if you can find one I recommend it. I really love my Wii. Its great for when you have people over. The bowling game that comes with wii sports (included with the wii) is really fun. 4 people can play. The thing I love is you can literally hand it to someone and say lets play. They don't need any video game experience to jump in and play a round of bowling.

Other games I've found to be really fun.
Resident Evil 4 wii edition
Zelda
Zelda crossbow (comes with the gun like device. Very fun. My wife loves this game)
Zack & Wiki - another game my wife and I play together

There is another baseball game called MLB Power Pro. Stores in my area (dallas) don't carry it for some reason even though a few reviews I read said it was perhaps the best baseball game in years. I need to order it online i guess.

There are a handful of games I want to play that I haven't been able to buy yet. Mario Galaxy, medal of honor, no more heroes, bully, ea's playground, Battalion Wars 2. those just off the top of my head. all have had great reviews. And the Wii Fit that comes out i'm hoping in May.

There is also the very large library of nes, snes, n64, gamecube, genesis, turbo graphix 16, neogeo games you can download for around $5 a piece. (some go to 8-10) Baseball stars and Baseball Stars 2 are available. Of course, playing old sports games to me is fun at first and then you realize how nice the progression of games has been.

I have a Wii and love it. I mostly play Guitar Hero 3 but have played my share of bowling and Madden as well. Mario Galaxy is also very cool.

It also plays Gamecube games (with a regular controller) so there are a bunch more games to choose from (though without the cool interface).

Rock Band is the best. FYI. And I have all the GH's, too, which I love. But Rock Band is the greatest game ever!

I hear it's great, but it's not available for the Wii yet.

I miss some things about EA Sport's MVP baseball. I played it on PC so I could update rosters whenever I wanted, they had some really cool mods you could download. Also, you could play a whole season and manage the entire organization from single-A to MLB level. MVP wasn't nearly as realistic as the show, though.

http://chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/sports/bas...

Cubs may only go with Eyre in the pen, and Chad Fox not surprisingly will probably start the season at extended spring training.

"We don't really have to [have a second lefty]," he said. "We'll try to take the best pitching staff we can. If a second lefty wants to grab a spot, that's fine with me. But we're not necessarily looking for a second lefty."

I wish he thought the same thing about the offense and not being pigeonholed into a lefty.

This 2008 "The show" game is totally consuming. The Road to the Show mode is Much better this year than in previous years. You design a guy that can look spookily like yourself. You join an organizaton and participate in only the plays your guy is personally involved in. I created a SS and am currently toiling away in AA Knoxville. Only action I have to deal with are Batting and Various defensive situations (pickoff throws,Stolen base attempts,Pivoting on the DP).

Dr. aaron b:
You design a guy that can look spookily like yourself.

You mean a 30-year old, 5'6", nearly 200 lbs rookie in AA? Sounds like a promising career.

Any chance I could make myself taller, younger, and... uh... black?

Well, I did make myself 18. But other than than I made myself look like myself. 5'8 180 AA Shortstop. 29 wouldnt really make me a prospect.

BLACK!?!?!?! Make me Dominican!!!!

AZ Phil,

How are things looking at minor league camp? In particular I've been interested in 2 guys, Samardzija and Larry Suarez, the bonus baby we signed last year.

Has Samardzija been pitching well against the minor leaguers after starting out at MLB camp? Is he getting polished enough to the point that he could make an impact at the MLB level this year or next?

And, what's Larry Suarez looking like? I remember they made a decent deal about the bonus they gave the guy, but we haven't heard much about what he's actually like as a pitcher so far.

Thanks!

Fukudome apparently has to play one MLB game before they can put him in the video game.

However, in rivalry and season modes, you can add his surrogate in Tom Jung, who appears on the Cubs' minor league roster.

He's Kyle Furanato on MLB2k8

WTF?@#!?

Is it just me or is THIS suicidally not-funny.

Yeah, I didn't find it funny either, but I don't find a vast majority of these stupid "Onion" like comedy articles funny.

That's pretty terrible.

The Onion is generally funny. This was just stupid. I checked out some other articles on the website and they all suck. I think perhaps the key to their problem is their mantra: "The Serious Sports News Network is, generally, willing to accept contributions from anyone willing to submit them - as such, we have printed a variety."

Maybe Rob should start accepting "anything" and see what happens...

We do - it's called the comments section.  ~grin~

It's not you, it's not all that funny.

BTW -- The Onion staff put an inordinate amount of time into developing their satire. It's not something that's just thrown together as this piece appears to have been.

Of the many reasons that's not funny, the article has no context.

Now, a funny story could be written about Pie's, uh, problem, in theory.

How can they do an entire lame article on separation anxiety and not even mention Soriano? I was waiting for the punchline that never came. You're right, it's jokeless without context. That is so NOT Raven.

By the way, what do you guys think of our keeper league? Just kidding.

Harold "I Fucking hate you ESPN" Reynolds chats with Lou on the front of cubs.com

Are you guys telling me they've made a new video game and "Home Run" for the Atari 2600 is outdated? How have the graphics for the stick figures improved?

I've been doing the home run derby on Super Smash Bros. Brawl... 1250 feet with Lucario!

Yeah, it's a stretch to stay on topic. Awesome game, though.

I'm still throwing MLB Power Pros in from time to time. Amazingly fun and deep for a game featuring big head character models.

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