Play ball! MLB 08 showcases terrific gameplay and special features

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MLB 08: The Show has pretty much everything youd find at a real ball park except the smell of stale hotdogs.

MLB 08: The Show has pretty much everything youd find at a real ball park except the smell of stale hotdogs. This baseball sim provides a terrific blend of realism and gameplay - enough to make the game appealing for the hardcore fan but light enough for gamers to enjoy. The game looks slick, with realistic stadium and player details. The movements of the players are fluid and true to life and the gameplay, which can become repetitive in baseball games, is awesome. The most enjoyable feature of the game is the pitching meter, although it can be a bit difficult. The location, accuracy and speed of any pitch is crucial in baseball. And athletes become fatigued and get rattled in every sport. The Show uses this exceptionally well. Give up a home run or throw a lot of pitches, and the meter gets much harder to use. Its probably overdone - the best pitchers in the game dont come completely undone after giving up one home run - but its something Ive wanted to see more of in sports games. When playing Madden, I wish laying down borderline-late hits on the quarterback would pay off in the fourth quarter by making him skittish or tired. Or that pounding the running back would have an evident effect on fatigue late in the game. Id like to see the same in hockey games. This use of the pitching meter takes the gamer inside the pitchers psyche, and thats something I want more of in my sports games. Usually I dont pay a lot of attention to such frivolous details like commentary, but its bad in this game - repetitive, flat and boring. Thats only a minor annoyance, though. What matters is that the gameplay, whether youre playing a quick season or the franchise mode with all the bells and whistles, is great. So is the mode where you can create your own player and work your way up into the bigs. Theres enough here to keep the real fans playing until the fall. Three-and-a-half stars out of five.

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