|System: PS3, PS2, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: SCEA San Diego||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SCEA (SONY)||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 4, 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|
Online play is very good for all three systems, but drawn out games on the PSP can grow tiresome and both of the minor consoles don't support SCOUT. SCOUT (SportsConnect Online User Tracking) allows gamers to save their online gaming preferences and settings to the MLB server. Then the system will look for a Quick Match within the online community in order to find players that will be a good fit. The SCOUT option is available from almost any screen and can be easily changed or shut off. All in all, online play mirrors last year's 30 team Online League Play and MLB score ticker. I also really liked the ability to download up-to-date rosters via MLB Live Rosters. This function allows the game to stay current on your favorite team's acquisitions, player attributes, and player injury status. This definitely ups the overall authenticity level of the game.
The graphics are very good for both the PS2 and PSP. However, they are fantastic for the PS3 version. Players and stadiums look very good on the minor consoles and do a good job of bringing you into the game, but the quality of the player facial models on the PS3 and the eerily realistic animations are phenomenal. The PS3 supports up to 1080p, but it is optimized for outputting at 720p. In addition to the visual quality, the commentary is amazingly deep. The Three-Man Booth and Progressive Commentary by Rex Hudler, Matt Vasgersian, and Dave Campbell makes it feel as if you're actually listening to a game. Every team and every stadium will trigger specific dialogue that is both insightful and engaging. The comments do get repetitive after a while, but even still you'll want to crank up the volume because it adds so much to the overall feel of the game.
The PSP has some unique features that make the game very handheld friendly. You can now access MP3 tracks from your memory card. That means you can jam to your own tunes by making custom playlists. This doesn't have much bearing during play, but menu cruising and mini-games such as King of the Diamond will be a bit more aurally appealing. Also, and more importantly, you'll be able to save the game at anytime and return to it when you're ready. That means you can save between innings or even between pitches, whatever your situation dictates. The PSP's standby feature is nice, but now there's no more worrying about forgetting to finish before your battery runs out. This feature will come in handy time and again. The PS2 game is really just a scaled down version of the PS3's. That means the graphics and overall presentation suffers, but load times are much shorter, and the menu organization seems to be much more user-friendly. Also, the rumble function of the Dual-Shock 2 controller is a really nice touch when entering pressure situations. This feature is not available with the Sixaxis, which is unfortunate.
The controls are identical for the PS2 and PS3 versions. It is incredibly easy to access all of the in-game data, hit dingers, advance runners, steal bases, slide, field, throw, pitch, etc. There is a steep learning curve for the uninitiated, but savvy sports game aficionados will be satisfied with the deep and varied options available. The PSP on the other hand is not nearly as good. However, you will still be able perform most of the functions and will still admire the level of control to be found even on the handheld.
Bottom-line: As far as I'm concerned, Sony has made the best baseball game ever. Last year's version seemed tough to beat, but after playing all three versions I can safely say that MLB 08: The Show rocks. Is this a must-buy game for everyone? Definitely not. However, if you're looking for an authentic simulation of the national pastime, then look no further. No other franchise can match MLB 08: The Show. It's too bad it's only made for Sony products because the attention to detail and incredibly realistic gameplay to be found in the title, combined with some great new features make this the baseball game of the year.
CCC Lead Contributor / News Director