Feature Article
MLB 2K8 Franchises, Baseball Cards, and More

In last week’s Three Point Thursday, we examined the impact of Major League Baseball 2K8’s new control scheme. With the game’s release right around the corner, let’s take a look at the game’s new features.

MLB 2K8 adds more depth to its franchise mode this year with the addition of fully playable minor league systems. You can choose to play with any of the 90 available minor league teams in exhibition games as well as in your franchise. You’re able to play with all three of your organization’s minor league teams in franchise mode, and doing so will have a bigger impact on the development of your prospects. 15 authentic minor league stadiums will be at your disposal, as well as three generic ballparks, when the game releases. Another three authentic stadiums will follow as downloadable content over Xbox Live.

The roster gurus who seek full control over the rosters in franchise mode will find themselves mostly satisfied this year. You have the option to make trades and roster moves for all teams, even those controlled by the AI. If you don’t want to have to do all of the hard work to make sure star players don’t get traded too frequently, franchise mode now comes with an option to disable trades involving players rated an 80 overall or better. While you won’t be able to edit the lineups and pitching rotations for all computer controlled teams in your franchise, you can set your opponent’s lineup and starting pitcher at the pre-game setup screen. The improved AI roster logic should also help assuage your fears about unrealistic roster moves.

The new baseball cards serve as MLB 2K8’s chief new feature off the field. You earn a player’s baseball card by using that ballplayer to accomplish a specific feat, such as stealing a base or recording a save – or sometimes something much more difficult. Baseball cards are divided into three levels: black, gold, and platinum. As you’d expect, platinum cards are the rarest, and you’ll maximize your odds of earning one by playing on higher difficulties.

You can use these cards to create your own custom dream team, building a 25-man roster composed of players whose cards you earned. However, your team’s players each come with a salary of their own, based on their abilities and the level of the card. You have to pick 25 players who fit under the salary cap of $125 million, and this restriction is where the card levels come into play. Platinum cards have the cheapest salaries, which allow you to fit more of your best players under the cap. Once you’ve built your team, you can take them online to face off with other online players.

The first series of cards, included with the game when it releases, includes over 450 cards, with each major league team represented with at least 12 cards. More cards will be released for download through Xbox Live. The cards’ Xbox Live integration continues as you can set up wish lists and tradable lists, allowing you to exchange cards with other players online. If you find yourself with duplicates of a card, you also have the option of simply selling the duplicates for credits. Sell enough cards to earn 500 credits, and you can purchase a 10 pack of cards.

Other types of cards exist such as wild cards, which you earn by accomplishing spectacular plays, and unlockable cards. Fans will have the opportunity to take a trip back in time and play in ballparks such as Shibe Park, Forbes Field, Griffith Stadium, the Polo Grounds, and Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Special teams such as All-Star teams and rookie teams can also be unlocked.

The card system bears similarities with card systems in past games, but the twists this year should make these baseball cards interesting enough to have longevity. Basically, think of the baseball cards as those cards on ster- … what? I’m being informed that I’m not allowed to say that when discussing a baseball game. In any case, these cards serve as a reminder of our youth in the same way that the classic uniforms and ballparks will.

Online players will notice the addition of a lobby this year that serves gamers who prefer to play using only button presses rather than the new analog controls. Additionally, a separate strikes-only lobby obliges players who seek a more timing-based game. These changes help separate online players with conflicting styles of play. Online leagues and tournaments return this year, as well as the 2K Ticker which now displays the schedules and leaders in your league.

These additions look to give MLB 2K8 greater longevity for everyone. The minor league fans, general managers, baseball card collectors, and online players among us have all been attended to. Now all that’s left to do is … play ball!

Member Comments
# 1 Moses Shuttlesworth @ 03/04/08 09:54 AM
Finally. A strikes only lobby. YES!

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