Major League Baseball 2K8 Review
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Essentially, MLB 2K8 does a lot of things right and enough things wrong. The game may be a huge improvement over last year’s title and give The Show a run for its money in the 2K9 installment, but it fails to clear the bar of respectable competition and will probably play second fiddle to MLB 08: The Show.
- Great pitching mechanics
- Trading Card feature
- Precision Throw Control
- Poor fluidity
- Some awkward visual effects
- Sometimes poor collision detection
It’s that time of year again, when sitting side-by-side some drunken lunatic is nothing but a pleasure while both of you ridiculously cheer on your losing team through another year of disappointment and false hope. You know the feeling we’re talking about, when you watch your team make it all the way to the ALCS/NLCS, only to get swept by the opposition and miss out on the big game completely. That’s probably the best way we can describe Major League Baseball 2K8, developed by 2K Sports Los Angeles, formerly known as Kush Games.
MLB 2K8 does an ample supply of things right, but the things they do wrong are almost at every turn, counteracting the good. After last year’s problem riddled installment, 2K Sports was looking to set the bar high for this year’s release and they didn’t fall very short of that, but they didn’t quite reach it either.
With MLB 2K7 resulting in a laundry list of issues that gamers had no problem letting be known on forums, 2K Sports has revamped the entire playing experience from the ground up. They’ve gone ahead and implemented not only their new Swing Stick 2.0 and ‘Precision Throw Control,’ but also a highly intuitive and innovative ‘Total Pitch Control’ system as well. Last year there was a huge concern regarding how easy it was to hit homeruns and this would always result in unrealistic scores and play in general. For a simulation sports title, that was a huge let down, but for the arcade gamer at heart, they enjoyed it fully.
The new Swing Stick 2.0 (don’t worry, you’ll still have the option to switch back to the two-button system if you so choose) has finally brought a bit of realism to the hitting side of the title. No longer will your games be filled with singles and homeruns throughout the game, but you’ll be greeted by a plethora of hit ranges. We noticed the variation between singles, doubles, triples, and homeruns were very evenly distributed. They felt right and they were happening with players who you’d expect to see them occur with more often. On top of this, you’ll also play witness to a lot of variety in your hits as well.
When Ben Brinkman discussed these new hitting elements in his conference call prior to release, we were skeptical about how they’d all come together in the title, but they came through just fine with only a minor hitch. Though you will see enough slow rollers, choppers, and chip shots that sail just over the infielder’s head; you’ll also notice that the way you come about performing each style is very tedious and unrealistic. What we’ve come to realize is that in order to lay the ball down on the ground, you’ll literally have to swing early or late by mistiming your swing. If you happen to swing through fully, which happens the majority of the time, you’ll notice an abundance of pop-fly balls that result in base hits, but also a ton of fly outs. The balance between the two needs a bit more work as there seems to be not enough ground balls put in play. For those of you wondering if the homerun problem has been addressed and fixed, then yes, homeruns are now more of a commodity than an expected occurrence.
The other new implementation is the Precision Throw Control. 2K Sports has completely walked away from utilizing face buttons to designate which base you’ll be throwing to. Now, all you have to do is direct the analog towards the base in question, right for first, and you’ll see a little meter come up that has a green zone in the middle with red zones on each side. If you allow the meter to land within the first red zone, your throw will take a higher arc and have the chance to be overthrown. If your meter lands in the last red zone, your throw will skip to the base, making you hope the baseman has good scooping ability, and finally, if you land right in the green zone, your throw will be spot on, as it should be.
Surprisingly, this works very well. It gives a lot more meaning ... (continued on next page)