|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Kush Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: 2K Sports||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 3, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
of the franchise
by Pete Richards
For those turned off by the 2K8 baseball series and who miss the days when one had an actual selection of different baseball simulations to choose from, 2K Games and developer Kush Games are attempting to restore the faith. This is probably the best in the entire 2K series. Part of the ways they've accomplished this is by adding a completely new method of pitching and by recreating an impressive baseball broadcast atmosphere unlike any game before it.
The most notable difference for 2K8 is the introduction to the Total Pitch Control scheme, which uses your right analog to hurl a ball the way you choose. Now, this may at first deter longtime baseball gamers, but the new pitching setup works pretty well - picking up where the Swing Stick left off for batting controls. Rather than simply hitting a face button to decide whether to go for a fastball or a slider, 2K8 requires you to flick the analog in a motion intended to simulate the pitcher's arm movement. If it's fastball you want, pulling the stick straight back and flicking it straight forward quickly will determine how fast you throw it. You can determine which side of the plate you want to throw it on by changing the angle to affect the right or left direction of the ball. If you want to throw a curveball, it gets a bit trickier, as you will have to hold the analog back and to the left and curl it quickly forward to the upper left. While the Total Pitch Control setup is tricky at first, it does get pretty fun once you get the hang of it. Sometimes it seems the pitcher may not be throwing in consistency with the way you move the stick, but stamina and fatigue do affect pitching ability.
The batting is the same as it has been, using the right analog Swing Stick mechanics to gauge the speed and direction you want to send the ball. Utilizing the Batter's Eye with the left analog to help find the location of the ball in the strike zone will be key to helping you hit the ball. I find it very hard, however, to pick spots where you want to land the ball. How you hit it and where it goes is often only determined by how late or early you swing at the pitch, so often you have no choice but to swing blindly at a pitch and send it where it may.
Kush has also introduced a new mechanic when fielding, dubbed the Precision Throw Control, which utilizes the right analog to throw the ball in any direction. It also takes some practice to for those familiar with using the face buttons to precisely choose which base you want to throw the ball to. This new setup requires you to flick the stick in the direction you want to throw the ball and gauge the speed by how long you hold it forward. It can be tricky and seem inaccurate at times, but like the Total Pitch Control, this also takes getting used to. And I suppose by re-inventing the pitch mechanisms and eliminating the use of face buttons, Kush decided they would have to do the same in the fielding department.
But the hitting and pitching is definitely the main focus of gameplay, as there really isn't much to do in the way of fielding or base-running. In fact, there are times when an opposing player will hit a line drive and one of my basemen will dive and catch the ball without me hitting anything. They have changed base-running as well, using the right analog to command your avatar around the bases, which adds to the strong analog focus of this game's button setup.