|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|
by Pete Richards
For fans of MLB 2K games who haven't been too impressed with installments of the baseball series in the past few years, 2K8 is definitely a step in the right direction. Unfortunately with competitors such as Sony's own MLB 08: The Show making strong impressions this year, a decent effort from 2K and developers Kush may not be enough to win over fans.
Where graphics and frame rate were definitely less than ideal in the past, this year's have been improved yet still fall short. MLB 2K8 for the PSP doesn't seem to have the same kind of fluidity as its console versions. There is something about it that just seems unpolished in comparison. There is some slowdown in players' motions as they glide and sputter their way to bases or off the field at the end of an inning. The PSP version also seems to use a lot of blurring effects. This may be able to distract some gamers from the slow framerate of the game, but it is definitely evident to the eye of a more seasoned gamer. But perhaps the biggest disappointment with 2K8 on the PSP is that the player models look edgy, jagged, and far less realistic than the console versions. And while the PSP version of MLB 2K8 really suffers in its presentation, it should be noted that Kush has still made improvements over previous MLB 2K titles.
In the case of gameplay, MLB 2K8 for the PSP is identical to the PS2 version. The pitch styles are determined by hitting a face button of choice and using the analog to select the location in and around the strike zone. Where the next-gen versions of MLB 2K8 feature a new all-analog pitching scheme known as Total Pitch Control, the PSP and PS2 feature the same pitching controls as in past installments. Batting is all done with the analog using the Swing Stick technology, and determining the location of the ball using the Batter's Eye is an important factor. However, like the PS2 version, I found it very hard to control the direction in which you want to hit the ball. As a ball is hurled towards you by the pitcher, you have little time to determine the location of the ball before it crosses the plate. Swinging at it usually sends it in any direction, and I found no control over whether it will be a foul, line drive or a home run. It seems it's anyone's guess where your ball will go.
As for fielding, there isn't much to it. Many times the opponent's ball is hit and one of my infield players will quickly catch it without me even doing anything. If it is hit a bit deeper, you will have to run your man over to the icon where, once you near it, the fielder slowly slides into it on his own. The only way you won't catch a ball is if you're back is turned to it, if you collide with another player or if you are out of position. In all, the gameplay mechanics of MLB 2K8 are pretty solid, though batting needs some work.
One of the best things about the PSP version is it comes equipped with a slew of game modes to keep you occupied including The Farm, Pennant Fever, Franchise, Season, General Manager, and the Home Run Derby Career. Along with the lack of commentating by Joe Morgan and Jon Miller in the Home Run Derby, some of the side modes seem a bit rushed and added on to give an impression that the game is packed with features. But extra modes are always a nice option, and there is lots to unlock including stadiums, classic teams, and jerseys; this keeps you occupied and gives you something to work for.
As for online functions, this PSP version also disappoints. It only allows you to partake in head-to-head matchups, whereas The Show allows you to go online and compete in 30-team leagues.
Unless you are some kind of a freak who needs to own every Major League Baseball title for your PSP, it may be a good idea to consider MLB 08: The Show as your first option. While the PSP version of MLB 2K8 is not a terrible game by any means, graphics and the inability to provide smooth animations in player movement and camera work just seems somewhat disappointing. And unfortunately, with Sony's solid baseball offering this year, comparing the two is inevitable: This is definitely not the best baseball experience on Sony's handheld. Unless you are an avid baseball gamer and like different options or a 2K diehard, you may want to play this game for yourself before purchasing it.
CCC Freelance Writer