PS2-style baseball nirvana was achieved a few seasons ago (in our humble opinion, anyway) with EA’s major league swan song MVP ’05. While Sony has delivered quality each year since then with their iterations of The Show, we didn’t think anyone would come too close - or even try, for that matter - to matching that touchstone on Sony’s mega-million selling console. After all, it’s been crystal clear that most developers have been focused like a laser beam on next-generation games, even as they cranked out nothing but virtual roster updates for the bazillions of us who still call the PS2 our console of choice.
There’s no such mailing it in here from Sony, though, as the MLB 08 The Show for the PS2 is a lovingly crafted ode to America’s Pastime. Chock full of features, silky-smooth gameplay, and the best non-traditional career mode ever seen in a sports title, The Show deserves a spot on every baseball fan’s mantle. It’s the most complete and entertaining baseball experience the PS2 has seen since MVP’s last MLB-licensed go-round, and actually surpasses that previous benchmark in its online play and addictive career mode. While we’re not ready to crown 08 as the best baseball game ever for the PS2, it’s the only other title in the conversation.
One reason The Show excels is that it’s is not about introducing gobs of new features or controls; rather, Sony sought to optimize each aspect of its traditionally solid experience with just enough salt and pepper to create the perfect dish. You won’t see any new pitching or hitting mechanics, although both are enhanced from last year with additional catcher intelligence and a new hot-cold streak dynamic. The Road to The Show mode is left mostly intact, yet adjusted in all the right places to make goal achievements more realistic. Even online play returns with upgraded features. All in all, it’s the total package for PS2 owners who are looking to whip the horsehide around the diamond again this spring.