|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: 2K Sports||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Deep Fried Entertainment||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: April 14, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Tom Kelly
Summer of last year 2K Sports released one of the more inventive baseball titles in recent memory. By combining lightning fast gameplay with surprisingly deep mechanics, The BIGS had all the right ingredients for success. Now, one year removed, 2K has taken a similar approach to its baseball offering for the Nintendo DS. Similar to The BIGS, Major League Baseball 2K8 Fantasy All-Stars is an arcade-style title where off-the-wall wackiness is sure to come into play. Unlike The BIGS, All-Stars lacks any of the depth or staying power to create a truly memorable experience.
Cut and dry All-Stars is a game directed more towards kids. There is no real strategy or skill involved; it is baseball at its simplest. You use the stylus to throw pitches, swing the bat, direct baserunners, and throw to varying bases. If not for the need to control your fielders, this game could be played with one hand. Complex it is not, but then again it is not supposed to be. The simplicity of it is part of its overall charm; unfortunately, it is also what makes this a less then stellar game of bat and ball. Players will not find much to do here as there are only exhibition games and the all important Fantasy Pennant. Pennant is a tournament of sorts, where gamers choose a famous manager (why?), followed by their team of choice. From here, you battle your way through an NCAA like bracket to become the champion. Bing, bang, boom, and you are done. Rinse and repeat if you wish, but there is not much else to it. Additionally, players are given the option to create a team or enjoy some light hearted training to up their skills. For those multi-player savvy kids out there, Wi-Fi is available as well as DS wireless gameplay.
Once you get out on the diamond, you may forget about the limited options momentarily because you will be too busy testing out each of the unique power-ups. Although they are limited, they do add a little bit to the overall experience. With power-ups for pitching, fielding, and hitting, players will need to discover where and when such tools should be used to their advantage. Striking out a hitter by literally splitting a ball in half can be the difference between a win and a loss. Throwing a laser to home from center can swing the momentum in your favor; just as hitting a ball that hops around like a chicken can bust you out of a slump when your bats are cold. Sadly, the explanation of their potential delivers more than they actually do during play. Players randomly get power-ups with no rhyme or reason as to why. Also, they appear so frequently that they truly do not factor much into the overall outcome of games.
Now, on to more pressing issues, the graphics plain and simple are not very good. They are drab, dreary, and so poorly lit it is hard to see where the ball is going once it is in play. With the lack of light, the grainy textures can really wreak havoc on your eyes. The cartoony look of the players is more creepy than cool; players look gangly and strange as opposed to larger than life. Considering the type of game it is, you would expect a more vibrant feel to it. Lighten things up; make it look like it plays. As for the stadiums, they may just be the most puzzling choice of the whole package. Instead of offering up the real stomping grounds of all your favorite teams, All-Stars has a small selection of strange and oddly designed diamonds to play on. Sure, this may be aimed at kids, but come on, a barnyard?