While The Bigs and Power Pros have done their part to cure the baseball jones of Wii owners, until now 2K Sports' acclaimed sim franchise had been MIA from Nintendo's powerhouse console. To be frank, we were more than a little concerned with what awaited us in MLB 2K8. However, despite some rough edges, the result is a surprisingly enjoyable trip to the ballpark.
MLB 2K8 had us wondering for months - will we be hurling pitches and swinging for the fences a la Wii Sports? If so, could our bodies withstand a seven-game series, much less a full season? Thankfully, the fellas at 2K Sports went for a rather understated (and quite welcome) approach with the Wii's unique controls, and our worries about blown rotator cuffs went out the door within the first few innings.
Pitching and hitting are handled with a few deft turns of the wrists, and for the most part work fairly well. In particular, the pitching mechanics make smart use of the motion controls. Point the remote at the screen for location, tilt upwards to start the windup, then gently flick forward at the right spot to release. It doesn't take more than a couple of minutes to learn, yet is deep and situationally-responsive enough to keep you interested for the long haul.
Batting, on the other hand, is much more of an exercise in random success than execution of practiced timing. With no visual cues to discern the type of incoming pitch (come on, no one can copy MVP '05's subtle yet brilliant color-coded pitch indicators?), connecting bat to ball devolves into swinging at every single pitch and hoping for the best. Luckily, it's a somewhat forgiving process, as we quickly became the 2008 version of Pete Incaviglia - plenty of strikeouts interspersed with a few home runs.
Presentation is straight out of the last generation, sporting graphics that would look ordinary on early PS2 games as well as distressingly chuggy movement whenever you’re in the field (an attribute that seems to be affecting many of 2K's console efforts this spring). There was clearly no effort made at sprucing up the visuals even though we're pretty sure the Wii can kick out the graphical jams better than this. There's also the criminally negligent exclusion of online features; while we can marginally forgive a lack of internet multiplayer, not allowing roster downloads is inexcusable in this day and age. No Santana on the Mets or Bedard on the Mariners? That's a tough pill to swallow.
Even so, as the only big-league option on the Wii this season, MLB 2K8 is solid enough to draw us in. While we would've loved a smoother and more expansive experience, what is here is great for the casuals and tolerable for the hardcore. Let's hope it's the start of bigger things to come.
Mar 13, 2008