MLB '08: The Show Review (PS2)
When God of War 2 was released for the PS2 the popular thing to say was, “God of War 2 is the PS2’s swan song.” Yet more than a year later the PS2 is still motoring along, and quality titles like Persona 3 and, most recently, MLB ’08: The Show continue to arrive on the console. And make no mistake MLB ’08: The Show IS a quality title.
Nonetheless, the PlayStation 3 version of The Show has become first priority for Sony, and thus many believed the PS2 version of The Show would become second fiddle to its next-gen brother. While that is true to some degree, the improvements found in the PS2 version of The Show may be enough to keep people from upgrading to a PS3 for at least one more year -- that is, assuming a solid baseball game is your top priority.
First let me get the bad news out of the way though. Certain things at this point in the life cycle need to be accepted as faults that probably won’t be corrected. I’ll keep my faults to simply on the diamond type things, but the point is certain things that were “broken” or “faulty” in the past will be that way most likely, forever. There aren’t many fielding errors for one. Even with some slider tweaks -- something I don’t like to touch much during reviews -- don’t really help correct a lack of errors. The other nagging issue is the overabundance of hits while batting. So any player with some skill will still hit for too high an average.
Even though there are too many hits, the hitting engine seems to be fine tuned this year. I’m seeing more extra base hits and hit variety. Also the batter/pitcher duels have been translated well across all versions of the game this year, so you will certainly see a fair share of lengthy at bats. And to me the best part of The Show is the 1-on-1 duels between pitcher and hitter.
Also one note of interest: the pitch speed in the PS2 version of this game seems to be faster than the PS3 version. This is due to the difference in technology I assume, but it makes incoming pitches a little harder to hit on the PS2 version because they come in a bit faster, and depending on the pitch, balls come in with more wicked movement.
The same amount of hitter vs. pitcher polish isn’t always found when fielding though. Specifically in the outfield, some CPU fielders will “dog it” and not make plays that they should. To explain further, the CPU player will sometimes trot to a liner and then won’t be able to make the play for an out, or in some cases the fielder allows a single to turn into a triple by not cutting off the ball in time. It doesn’t happen too often, but it occurs just enough to be considered an issue.
That negative aside, SCE Studios San Diego has also done a good job getting most every PS3 feature into the PS2 version. There’s no Replay Vault, but Road to the Show 2.0 and Pitcher/Batter Analysis have made it over intact. They’re nice additions that should please both stat freaks and people who love career modes.
There’s plenty more I could get into, but what it really comes down to is the whole PS2 vs. PS3 thing. So the question that needs to be asked is, what’s more important to you? If you can live without the Replay Vault, HD graphics, less impressive presentation, and slightly less reliable online play then you don’t need to upgrade to the PS3 version this year -- assuming you have the financial capabilities to do so in the first place. The PS3 version of The Show is certainly the superior version of the game, but the PS2 version isn’t some two-bit knockoff. And frankly if this is finally the PS2’s “swan song” then it’s a good note to go out on if you’re a sports game fan.
On The Diamond: The pitcher/batter duels in this game are unmatched in the baseball realm, and minus some bugs that seem to be in the engine for good (too many hits, lack of errors) The Show is fantastic on the diamond.
Graphics: The framerate is consistent this year and the graphics seem to be upgraded slightly from last year.
Sound: No custom soundtracks like the PS3 version. Besides that the commentary is still good, but the crowd audio isn’t as impressive after having played the PS3 version of the game.
Entertainment Value: Road to the Show 2.0 has made it over and there’s no reason hardcore baseball fans won’t enjoy the hell out of this game within Franchise mode or Road to the Show mode.
Learning Curve: If you’ve played the series in the past you should be just fine. Control wise there’s nothing new you really need to know about. If you’re new to the series you should pick up the core gameplay aspects within a game or so.
Online: The game online is somewhat sketchy. The lag is not horrendous but the framerate is inconsistent at times and thus does affect the experience to a degree. There’s still plenty here in terms of extras such as downloadable rosters and individual team news.