MLB08: The Show (Video Game Review)

Sony PlayStation 3, $59.99
Sony PlayStation 2, $39.99 (reviewed on this system)
Sony PSP, $39.99

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.

Free Stuff

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.

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24 Responses »

  1. Suggestion for improving the already rockin’ Ducksnorts blog:

    I’d like to see more opportunities for interactive chatting on the blog. The traditional blog format is great, but sometimes it’s a little unwieldy to follow all the comments, especially if I come in late in the game. I live in Mexico and I don’t have perpetual access to internet, but I would definitely make the effort to sit in on a chat, maybe once a week, or once a month. I envision something like a “State of the Padres” conversation. This is a much more fluid format than the hundreds of comments that come after a provocative post.

    Hope this is helpful!

  2. I’m currently lost in “Road To The Show”. I’ve created a pitcher, who is getting dicked around in AA. Several times I’ve been passed over for promotion to AAA. And then kept in the rotation only to pitch relief 3 days in a row and start a game on the 4th.

    Also, in Road To The Show. Don’t expect to ever make the big club out of Spring Training your first year – ain’t gonna happen. lol

  3. #1: Brian, I think that’s a great idea.

  4. Suggestions …

    – I like what GLB used to call “diaries” (and now calls “fanposts”) … it’s a way for one of your readers/commenters to post an off-topic comment

    – Widen the page … I gotta believe 99% of us see blue bars on the right 1″ and left 1″ of the web page …

    – Pregame prediction poll … that keeps track of poll results, individually and as a group

    In yesterday’s IGD, someone posted link to fangraphs that showed Hoffman is using splitter much more this year (15% vs 6%) … similarly, fangraphs shows Bell’s fastball has lost 3.5 mph …

    http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=1035&position=P

    … and scroll to bottom … ug.

  5. Thanks, LM; I wasn’t worried enough about Bell and now you have him down over 3 MPH. Just teasing you, of course, but I am seriously worried about him. I think he’s being abused rather than used, especially after last season. And, let’s face it, if he goes down, the pen is toast, regardless of whether Trevor returns to form or not. Let’s hope he’s just experiencing the classic “dead arm” phase “every pitcher goes through.”

  6. Couple of suggestions (as long as you solicited them):

    1. Spell Check. I am a terrible speller and often cut and paste my post to a word document, spell check, then repost. I know, that is dedication, but I would rather dedicate that time to other things like reading your book.

    2. Advanced search. Possibly search by poster or content within posts. I hate having to go through 5 or 6 different blog’s to find one post.

    3. During IGD’s, can we have a running score/situation mod? Not all of us are watching the game during IGD’s and it would be great to know what is going on.

    4. Add and “interview with a Padre” post…maybe once or twice a month, post up an interview with one of the players/front office people.

  7. 6: Firefox has spell check built in I am pretty sure… I use a Mac which has it built in to any program that you can type into, but I think I remember Firefox having spellcheck (if you aren’t using Firefox rather than Internet Explorer, you should be anyway).

    The Advanced search would be nice.

    Also, If you have PS3 buy the Show, if you happen to have an xbox 360 (like me) you are stuck with MLB 2k8. 2k8 is pretty good as far as gameplay goes. The controls are much more fun than the show. But the support, graphics and the game itself is poor. It is full of bugs and for the first month I owned it I could not even play a franchise with the Padres.

  8. Nice review Geoff. As far as improvements go, I personally think it would be cool to have some kind of avatar thing set up. Something that maybe displayed out name location and maybe a picture or “Ducksnorter Since ?” type of thing. Something that required some sort of sign in. Not that you get tons of “riff raff” here or anything but I do think it ads a little bit more credibility to each poster when they can’t just go ahead and post anything they want under any name or fake email they want. Just a thought, you really do a great job around here in terms of content and quality and any suggestion I could give you would be purely aesthetic.

    Great win last night. We can hit nothing but singles for the rest of the year for all I care as long as we can hit them with runners in scoring position and capitalize when we have the chances.

  9. Suggestions:
    Widen the page, but that’s allready been said.

    Instead of just putting the farm reports under Future Friars, maybe make a 2008 Farm Report category so all the reports are broken down by the season.

    Allow registration (but don’t require) and a way for registered users to search for their own posts.

  10. Oh yeah, a PM feature would be cool too.

  11. Midget go-go dancers. And maybe a ferris wheel. Also, I like those cages full of the little plastic balls, like they have at Chuck E. Cheese’s. Those are WAY fun to play in. Llamas are cool, too. I would live to read a blog with llamas.

  12. #11: Be careful what you wish for…

    Thanks, all, for the suggestions. Keep ‘em coming!

    On another note, I’ll be doing some site maintenance between noon and 1 p.m. PT today. Downtime shouldn’t be more than 20 minutes, and I’ll let you know when we’re back up and running.

  13. Totally off-topic, but I sat Rickie Weeks today in my Ducksnorts fantasy league, because Milwaukee is facing John (who is also on my team).

    So Weeks is 2 for three with a homer, and is currently on base again. Bastard.

  14. Gee, I guess AZ won yet again. Yikes. R they really that good?

  15. #14: Yeah, they are really good.

    Okay, we’re just about to go off-line. Be back asap.

  16. We’re back in business. With luck, nothing broke.

  17. I’d like to see the daily prospect review brought back….no idea who to write it though

  18. I have no clue how to use html, java or any other code so I’m not sure how hard this would be but is there anyway on the IGD’s that you can make the page refresh every 30 seconds or so? It would be really nice to look away from the game and see the latest comments with out having to hit the refresh button.

    Also being able to go back and edit your previous posts would be nice.

  19. Re: 17 G.Y. has been posting PpR’s every morning.

  20. Here’s a go at this:

    I’d love wider pages. I’ve got a good 2.5 inches of blue on both side of my screen.

    I’d love avatars or something of the like. They help a lot with really forming more of a community, because you start to recognize the avatars like you would someone’s face in conversation. (Can you tell I’m a visual rather than linguistic learner?)

    When you go into the comments section of a post I’d love to remove the coding that sends you to post 1. No matter how fast my internet connection is, I’m inevitably interrupted while I’m midsentence on post x and sent back to post 1.

    I like the idea of some type of off-topic chatter area. This would be good for more continuous conversations. Some days there’s an interesting discussion going on and then once the next post come up people start posting in there – usually not continuing the old discussion. If you go back and post in the old discussion no one will read it. So it’d be nice to just have a different area where longer term conversations could go on.

    I know I can press ctrl to get links to open in a new window, but it’d be cool to have programming save my pinky finger from all that work.

    Also, I’d very much appreciate “Home Run Now,” “Catch the #$&*@ ball” and “STRIKEOUT!” buttons to be used to effectively control the Padres and their opponents at appropriate moments in the IGD threads.

    I love your blog Geoff and as long as you get that last one working I’ll forgive you for not accomplishing the other ones.

  21. I would like for pop tarts to come of my disc drive. Yeah, I said disc drive.

  22. 22: Ouch on that line for LeBlanc. Not quite as good as his first start.

  23. I want to see the monthly roundtable back…

    and give my copy to someone else since I know I earned it in eight simple words :)