Fans have come to know and love the handheld versions of Sony’s baseball games for the past couple of years now, so no one should be surprised to hear that the 2008 version is yet another gem. However, even we were surprised by how much more the developers were able to squeeze into a single UMD this time around. MLB 08 The Show is the best-looking and most complete baseball experience the PSP has ever seen. Color us impressed – and, once again, hopelessly addicted.
One reason The Show excels is that it’s 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 many new pitching or hitting tools, although an avalanche of real-time stats and tendencies make every battle between batter and hurler that much more interesting – and intense.
The compelling Road To The Show mode is left mostly intact too, although it is adjusted in all the right places to make goal achievements more realistic. Creating your own personal heroes and bringing them up through the ranks of the bush leagues to the majors remains easily the most addictive and well-crafted sports experience available these days.
While the on-field gameplay remains familiar, we can’t help but notice that the developers seemed to have upped the difficulty ante just a little bit. We’re seasoned veterans of The Show, but were more than a little surprised at how we got lit up when playing as Johan Santana and Josh Beckett. We kinda like it – but a little warning would’ve been nice.
Online play returns with plenty of upgraded features too, sporting an ambitious set of features that shames all other mobile offerings (as well as most console sports titles). Naturally, head-to-head play is available, but online leagues also make an appearance (up to 30 players, although we’re betting against anyone being able to manage and maintain that kind of a group on a portable platform). Baseball fans will undoubtedly love the ability to regularly download up-to-date rosters, track real games online, and get hooked up to news feeds of their favorite teams. Talk about a heaping plate full of goodness.
Despite a handful of nagging issues – all cosmetic – we can easily say that MLB 08 is a handheld version of a five-tool player. Silky smooth gameplay, solid controls, a stellar single-player campaign, and a fully realized online component all combine to deliver a Hall of Fame experience. Even if you’re a veteran of the series, MLB 08 deserves to be your opening day starter this season.
Mar 12, 2008