The PopMatters review of Major League Baseball 2K8 is up today, a game that redefines (for better or for worse) the way that video game baseball can be played. But what if you want something a little bit less...revolutionary?
Platforms: PlayStation 2 (Reviewed), PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable
Multimedia: MLB 08: The Show
Display Artist: SCE San Diego / SCEA
Number of players: 1-2
ESRB rating: Everyone
US release date: 2008-03-04
This is actually the third season for the current generation of video baseball games, given the Xbox 360's head start with Major League Baseball 2K6 way back in '06. It's the second season for Sony's PlayStation 3 versions of their own baseball game. As such, it would be plenty understandable for Sony to choose to put all of their effort into the PlayStation 3 version of the game, leaving the PlayStation 2 version behind. They could have gone the EA route, putting out almost exactly the same game as last year with updated rosters, put it out at a budget price, and been done with it.
Of course, given the number of late adopters who still haven't hopped onto the PS3 bandwagon, it's also plenty understandable that they didn't quite go that route.
The reason MLB 08 works for the classic players is that its primary game mechanics will be extremely familiar to just about anyone. Sure, it's a little bit more advanced than "press 'A' to pitch", but not all that much. You're still swinging the bat with one button. Fielding feels as natural as it ever has, because you're doing it in ways that you recognize. There's no new paradigm, no new control ideal that must be learned; even without a look at the instruction book or an ounce of experience, you'll be able to step right in to MLB 08 for the PlayStation 2 and be able to play. You'll probably lose, yes, but you'll be able to play.
As such, it's obvious that Sony didn't put the full-on effort into the PlayStation 2 version of MLB 08: The Show, not like they did the PS3 version, anyway. What they came up with is entirely the polar opposite of the Major League Baseball 2K8 approach to baseball, subtle tweaks that improve the game rather than overhauling.
In short: it's the perfect baseball experience for the ex-core PlayStation 2 owner who just isn't quite ready to move to "next-gen".