MLB 08: The Show

Get Ready for The Show

We go hands-on with Sony's latest MLB effort and man is it good.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: February 5, 2008
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It's been quite a while since Sony's sports studio had the kind of across-the-board portfolio of titles that actually gave big names like EA a run for their money. Gretzky is MIA, the last NFL game, Road to Sunday was axed midway through development and the basketball games... Well, those are actually getting better every year. But there is one ace up the San Diego Studios' sleeve: the MLB franchise.

With 2K Sports locking up the 3rd party baseball license, it's all the more impressive that The Show is consistently good -- so good, some would say, that it's the best sports game (never mind baseball game) on the market. There is one chink in the armor, however: the PS3 version of the series made its next-gen debut last year more than a month late and barely more than a glorified port-up.

This year, however, the gloves are off. MLB 08: The Show is across the board improved, sure, but it's the PS3 version in particular that is seeking to seriously impress. The visuals have been given the proper PS3 treatment, eschewing the flat lighting and merely passable textures and animations for a true next-gen upgrade. The PSP and PS2 versions (yep, Sony's still giving their older systems love) are nothing to scoff at -- particularly with all the improvements that have been added -- but it's clear which version is the lead platform now.

Aside from the obvious bump to the online mode thanks to the PS3's online service, not to mention more hardcore stat tracking thanks to the PS3's ability to stuff everything onto the hard drive (another benefit: you can save at any time now, handy for full games), the three versions are more or less the same. The new Road to the Show mode that takes a created player (now spruced up with a ton of options for building a digital doppelganger thanks to some Fight Night-style analog adjustment and dozens of different face and body parts) from the minors into the big leagues now has more goals for earning training points. The insanely deep Manager Mode lets you quite literally micromanage an entire team or just simulate parts of the season, and all the one-off modes like single games, seasons or playoffs are of course here.

Given that nobody on staff here is a hardcore sports nut anymore, we've decided to just let Sony do most of the talking in this preview. It's not something we normally do (and may never do it again), but the sheer amount of stuff being poured into this year's games is just too numerous for us to touch on without some help. So yes, we're doing a cut/paste preview here because we're lazy and clueless, but at least we're honest about it. And now, for the absolutely massive list:

[Road to The Show 2.0]
To deliver the closest experience possible, next to actually trying to make it in the Majors, MLB 08: The Show introduces a more immersive Road to The Show mode. As gamers attempt to make a starting line-up in the Big Leagues, playing on both offense and defense from a custom-created player's perspective, a more robust dynamic goal system and a new career advancement system will determine when a player is eligible for a promotion. Now, advancement goals related to the player's attribute target level will be provided to get the player to that next level and those goals are based on the player's attribute level and statistical performance. Also, Road to The Show 2.0 adds a new statistics screen that will display a player's current seasons' statistics. Additionally, custom-created players are more interactive. As a position player, gamers will be able to further adjust that players positioning, catchers will occur more defense situations, and pitcher's will now experience mound visits with user interaction - all making Road to The Show mode even more realistic.
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