Thursday, May 8, 2008

MLB 08: Games Hit It Out of the Park

The congressional hearings on steroid use are over, and the boys of summer are prepared to play ball. For those who love America's pastime, video-game baseball proffers the big names and stadiums, as well as genuine gameplay, minus the debate. There are two new releases, and they're presented across all platforms.

MLB 08: The Demonstrate

When it appears to Sony's game consoles, no one does baseball enhanced. MLB 08: The Show excels on PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3 and PSP, creation it a must-buy baseball game. From the lifelike facial features (right down to Todd Helton's beard) and fluid on-field movement of the high-definition PS3 game to the intensity of the PS2 and PSP versions, this Show is absolutely worth the price of admittance.

Sony recognizes its audience and speeds up the sport with the perfect mix of arcade action and realistic simulation. In the simulation department, umpires have dissimilar personalities and call games another way. Unique animations for each player take such details as a batter's stance and his home-run celebration to life.

You'll also get every statistic conceivable as well as data showing players' propensities.

Sony has enhanced the "Road to the Show" mode, which lets gamers put an avatar into the game and work their technique up from the minor leagues by performing specific offensive and defensive feats in shortened, action-oriented games. This mode alone is addictive, but the game also includes "Franchise," "Season" and "Rivalry" modes (relive those Sox vs. Yankees series). Kudos for being competent to save a game at any point and come back later, which more sports games should recommend. In fact, the only thing holding this title back from pitching a perfect game is sloppy collision detection, which occasionally results in players running through each other.

Major League Baseball 2K8

The only way to play a simulation baseball game on Wii is with the Major League Baseball 2K franchise. 2K8, available across all platforms (including Sony's consoles), offers a varied bag of gameplay.

The Wii version, the first simulation present for Nintendo's popular console, hits one out of the park on the first try. Anyone who has played Nintendo's pack-in game Wii Sports Baseball recognizes that pitching and hitting is just simple fun with the motion-sensor controllers. 2K Sports brought this to life with its arcade game, The Bigs, and has additional physical play to the full baseball simulation. Pretty much everything from the next-generation versions of the fresh game are in the Wii version except online play, the new virtual 2K Cards, which let you to unlock All-Star teams, and the skill to play in the minor leagues (90 teams and 20 stadiums are in the next-gen editions).

When it appears to the other versions of MLB 2K8, the Xbox 360 game has the best visuals, but the game suffers from jerky camera movement, which is bad on the PS3. And even though player visuals are lifelike and the stadiums are stunning, the similar details aren't always in place for animations, and the crowds look terrible up close.

What's new are analog stick controls for pitching plus enhanced batting and fielding and base running. Although these controls work fine for pitching (a fastball is a slow down-to-up motion) and hitting (it's essentially a mini-game within the game), the fielding and base running takes time (and outs) to get used to. The old-school button options are still accessible, but it's nice to attach real skills to this virtual sport with the analog sticks.

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