Friday, March 14, 2008

MLB 2008 The Show - Mini Review and Where it Ranks All-Time

MLB 2008 The Show - Mini Review and Where it Ranks All-Time

General Background

Before ranking MLB 2008 The Show (hereafter known as “The Show 08”), it is necessary to explain my gaming habits and the type of games that are played. In short about 95% of the games that I play are sports games (baseball, football and basketball), the other 5% are made up of racing games, arcade classics, Xbox 360 arcade titles (demos) and the occasional shooter (usually the 1st couple of levels because I am just not very good). The sports games that I play I either play a friend, actually one of two friends or play a dynasty. The dynasties that I play are simulation based I like these games to mimic there real sports as much as possible real rosters, similar stats, etc.

Baseball Gaming Background

The one thing that I may actually be a decent historian for is sports video games, at least for football, baseball and basketball even indoor soccer if you must (MISL soccer for my old Tandy 1000 rocked!), nearing 35 years old the last 25 have been filled by sports video games. My baseball video game journey started in 1983 (may be 1984) when I received a Colecovision for Christmas, soon thereafter came the Super Action Controller and Super Action Baseball. This equated to hobby number three of my young life one was playing with toy cars and trucks, two was sports and three became sports video games. Number one would later be replaced with girls then after marriage my children.

The summers of 1983-1988 would follow the same pattern for the summer months, wake up put on a baseball cap and jersey (matching the team of course) Texas Ranger jersey equaled Texas Rangers hat. I had 5 or six of these combos Cubs, Rangers, Yankees, Mariners maybe a few more. Then a pair of shorts and cleats, yep cleats the colored baseball kind (red or blue depending on what color my baseball team was that year), white was a no no I wish someone would fill the Oakland A’s in. Once being dressed in the official uniform of summer my friend and I would head to the baseball field (actually a friends side yard) that to this day seems like a classic ballpark to me. The house had an old open garage basement with two huge sliding garage doors this part of the house was not used by the family but rather by our little group it was our clubhouse. The clubhouse was complete with bathroom, a black and white TV, rakes, brooms, the cheap plastic batting helmets with the brown adjustable ring inside and baking flour. The baking flour was used to mark the lines of the field and the outfield wall was made of window screens and right field had a our own version of the green monster about a 20 foot high set of bushes. Hundreds of days starting and ended playing a version of baseball / wiffle ball and although we tried to install lights the nights left us very little to do but play baseball video games. The wee hours would approach and the baseball video games would still be going strong. The early years were just one on one grudge matches between my friend, who I still talk to several times a week, and I of ColecoVision Super Action Baseball. He won some and I won some and later I think I realized when I won it was because he let me (revenge would come).
In 1987 Earl Weaver Baseball, hereafter known as “Weaver”, was released, up until this point I think we played video games because it was to dark outside to do anything else, but with Weaver came stats, box scores, player ratings, a stadium editor, league play and in my 13 year old eyes pure baseball. Weaver made the nights longer and the games competitive. Weaver was played for four or five years it eventually ended up being the platform for a league of my high school buddies, we would play Weaver upstairs on the computer while another group played Baseball Stars on Nintendo downstairs.

My friends and I tried them all Hardball! I, II & III, Microleague Baseball, Bases Loaded, RBI Baseball, Star League Baseball,Tommy Lasorda Baseball, Tony LaRussa Baseball, High Heat, Triple Play, Front Page Sports Baseball, World Series Baseball, All-Star Baseball, MVP Baseball, MVP NCAA Baseball and others. The only game that I saw on a store shelf and did not at least rent would be Bo Jackson Baseball made by Data East. Data East also produced a football game called Monday Night Football and it was horrid so Bo’s baseball game did not get a shot.

MLB 2008 - The Show

Rating the show versus these games dating back to 1983 is going to win graphics, sound, depth of franchise and many other features that simply were not possible until recently. With that being said here is a mini review of The Show.

Visuals and Sounds 9.5

First of all this game looks incredible other than the collision detection and the ads not being the exact ads this game is dead on. The player models are very well done and the animations are as good as any I’ve seen. The sound both commentary and game sound again are very very good. The organ, chears and chants just make me want to grab a dog with mustard and relish and a cold beverage. The Show while not perfect is very close.

Gameplay 9.0

The Show plays very well out of the box, with better graphics and faster processors baseball games have become much more complex. The old games where 2D so seeing balls and strike in RBI baseball was much easier than in todays games. I never draw a walk, as a matter of fact I should set the controller down on the table until I get a strike, I still swing when I see a fastball no matter where it is. Fielding, base running and pitching are well tuned in todays games but until I can really tell balls and strikes with more effectiveness I will continue to have an on base percentage very close to my batting average. I am working on training my eye but in order for a game to be perfect I think there is work still to be done.
The sliders in todays sports games make them fun for anyone to play. There are a few things out of the box that I thing should be tweaked like outfielder speed and pitchers control. Sliders prolong the time that I can enjoy a game and The Show does a nice job of implementing them.

Road to The Show and Franchise 9.5

This category would be a 10 if there were the lower farm teams and the real minor league players as well as stadiums so lets hope for these in 2009.

Overall 9.5

This game is as close as it gets to the perfect baseball game by todays standards but me not being able to pick up on if a pitch is a ball or strike easier will keep it just south of perfect. This may be something that with 3D baseball can’t be done any better and I’m just going to have to get the 150 inch plasma and get in a zone before I play baseball.

One Mans Opinion

Now that you have the background I’ll rate them as far as features I liked then give the top 5 overall.

Personal Ranks
Most hours played: Earl Weaver Baseball (not any PC a Tandy)
- I think I have said enough on Weaver
Most hours played against Computer: World Series Baseball (Xbox)
Purchased an Xbox for this game played 162 game season with the Cubs every pitch
Most fun non gaming feature: Hardball! III create custom teams and logos (PC)
One summer in college two buddies and I made a college baseball league that had actual logos that you had to draw pixel by pixel, don’t know why but fun stuff
Most fun gaming feature: Road to the Show 2.0 - MLB 2K8 The Show (PS3)
Most fun game to pick up and play when you had a few minutes: (1) Wii Sports (Wii) 2) Baseball MVP Baseball 2005 (PC or Xbox)
Most fun co-op baseball game: MVP NCAA Baseball 2006 (Xbox)
*Best human league game: Tie 1) Earl Weaver (PC) 2) Tony LaRussa Baseball (PC)
Biggest Disappointment: MLB 2K6 & MLB 2K7
Worst sports game ever made: ...... hands down .... Mike Ditka Power Football (Sega Genesis)

#Top 5 Baseball Games of All-Time (Just one man’s rankings and I do reserve the right to change these as I reminisce further)

5) World Series Baseball (Xbox) - Solid
4) Front Page Sports Baseball (PC) - To bad Dynamix and Sierra stopped making the Front Page Sports series
3) High Heat (PC) - Great game play tons of hacks to make it very realistic
2) MLB 2008 The Show (PS3) - This is not far off
1) Earl Weaver Baseball (PC) - Still the King

High school and college leagues lots of time and no families
# Did not play “The Show” series until 2008

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Games that I can remember playing, I know there are more.

Atari Baseball
Colecovision baseball
Intelevision Baseball
Microleage Baseball (PC)
Star League Baseball (PC)
Baseball (Nintendo)
RBI Baseball
Baseball Stars 1989
Bases Loaded 1987
Tommy Lasorda Baseball
Earl Weaver Baseball
Hardball! 1985
Hardball! II 1989
Hardball! III 1992
Front Page Sports Baseball
Triple Play Baseball
All Star Baseball
Tony Larussa Baseball
High Heat Baseball
Front Page Sports Baseball
World Series Baseball
MVP Baseball
MVP NCAA Baseball