Before we get started, you need to know my bias: I grew up on Intellivision and Atari 2600. As such, all else being equal, I prefer simplicity in my video games. Also, I don’t play nearly as many of them as I did, say, 20-25 years ago. My passion for them just isn’t what it once was.
Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first. Because I like things simple, I found certain aspects of MLB08: The Show a bit frustrating, at least in the beginning.
One thing that baffled me was the pitching, which involves several components that must be coordinated. The first time I played, Jake Peavy allowed nine runs in the first inning without the benefit of a single base hit. I simply couldn’t throw strikes. After some practice, I managed to figure it out, and now I actually like the pitching system. The multiple components simulate those required to throw a physical pitch, and I’ve come to appreciate the complexity. In mastering the skill required to execute pitches, I felt like I’d accomplished something more worthwhile than simply being able to push a button.
Thanks to the good folks at Sony, I have four copies of the PS3 version of MLB08: The Show to give away. If you’re interested, please leave a suggestion in the comments on how to improve Ducksnorts. The four best suggestions (as judged by yours truly) received no later than 11:59 p.m. PT, Sunday, April 20, will receive a copy of the game.
MLB08: The Show features several modes of play. Beyond the standard game, my favorite is “Road to the Show,” in which you create a player and attempt to develop him into a big leaguer, working on specific skills and completing various tasks (e.g., get a ground ball, strand the runner at second) along the way. As someone who played a goodly amount of Dungeons & Dragons back in the day, I love the idea of building a character and embarking on campaigns, which is sort of what this is. If I had the time, I almost certainly would immerse myself in this mode and forget about the rest.
Other modes include “Franchise” (which sounds intriguing, but which I haven’t tried yet), “Online” (which I’ll never try because it doesn’t interest me in the slightest), and “Home Run Derby” (which is mildly amusing, but not really my thing). The graphics are fantastic, as is the level of detail — pitch trackers, hot and cold zones for pitchers and hitters, beautifully rendered big-league ballparks (with a few minor-league parks thrown in for good measure). Padres fans will also appreciate that their own announcer (and friend of Ducksnorts) Matt Vasgersian calls the play-by-play.
Bottom line: I’ve found MLB08: The Show to be thoroughly enjoyable despite my own limitations. If I had more time and better hand-eye coordination, there’s a good chance I’d lose entire weekends to this game.