Road to the Show still exhibit a few problems that are in last year's version. For starters it can still be hard to get a good bead on the ball on both offense and defense. On offense and when on base, it's sometimes hard to judge where the ball is hit and if it's safe to make a run. A lot of times the camera can't swing around fast enough to follow the action or the action takes place so quick it's off camera. When there are others on base, I look at what the runners are doing rather than watch the ball. On defense, quick grounders or line drives can be hard to judge. Something new that's popped up this year is a lead off problem. MLB 08 makes the pitcher and runner go through a sequence of animations and if the pitcher is quick to set up or the base runner's slow to get into position, you can't do any lead off commands to try and give the running a little advantage. When this comes up, you'll see the runner slide out away from the base and teleport to the ready position as the pitcher delivers. For those that like to steal bases this can be a little frustrating as you aren't even given a chance to extend your lead off position. With last year's version you can skip all the animation and go right to the set position with a little cushion to try to extend your lead. While annoying, these few issues aren't a deal breaker.
The same bugs still creep up every once in a while in this game. The one I experienced before and in MLB 08 The Show happens when I am on base. As I'm playing the part of the base runner, the batter fouls off a few pitches. The next thing I know the inning is over even though there was no resolution to the at-bat. It's a bad bug as you could be down by one or getting ready to take the lead and you have no control as the inning ends prematurely.I would have hoped the developers addressed this issue but it cropped up a few games in. AI has it's moments too as I've experienced some pretty unintelligent plays. One that I've seen a few times is a pop up near the catcher. You'd think the catcher would make a try for the ball each time as it's near him but more than a few times I'd see the catcher stand there as the ball dropped in front of him enabling me to get a base hit. I've also had infield hits which require the pitcher to cover the base result in the pitcher being slow to the bag and out of position turning a routine out into an infield single. One bug that really annoyed me last year appears again in this years version is the base throwing bug. X is used to throw to second base while triangle throws home. A few times when I'm trying to gun someone down at home, I would press triangle and it would inadvertently throw to second base. It's something that's burned me in a few games and I wish they would've fixed it for this year's version.
Graphics have been improved providing a cleaner look as well as some added animations. The players as I addressed earlier feature more variety with added faces. clothing options, and additional batter animations available. The stadiums are beautifully rendered in both the minor league and major league variations. There's some nice small touches thrown in to offer the illusion of a live field. During night games where stadiums have different direction of the light sources, you'll see multiple shadows of your players on the ground. While the crowd still features a lot of the same people scattered about running the same animation at the same time, it's actually a little bit improved over the previous year's version in terms of variety. In some games you'll even see a beach ball being bounced around in the crowd. With regards to animations, there's a good variety of them so the game never seems to get stale. There are some spectacular plays that are animated well giving a nice wow factor when they happen for or against you. The stabs at quick line drives by your infielders are also pretty cool to watch. Uniforms get dirt on them and stay on. As a base runner when you steal a base, the leg on which you slide on will be covered in dirt throughout the inning while you are on base.
A lot of improvements have been made to the presentation. You get a nice display of how you batted each inning and how far you went around the base path at the end of games. There's also some nice graphs to show your progress throughout the week. When showing league leaders, a bug where some names were duplicated in the previous game has been fixed in 08.
While the DualShock 3 was just released, I actually started playing this before its release in the US. Using the NYKO Zero controller which featured rumble and was surprised to feel the game take advantage of it. When guessing the correct pitch and location, the gamepad rumbles while the pitch is thrown to let you know you'll make good contact if the ball is in the strike zone. When there's a runner at third base and you are up to bat, the controller will pulsate like a heartbeat to add a little tension to the situation. While not really advertise, it's a nice to see it incorporated into the game.
MLB 08 The Show, while still exhibiting some annoying bugs, is still a solid baseball game. Great animation, good graphics, and solid game play highlight a good overall baseball package. The Road to the Show is always fun and a great way to play a lot of games without it being too long as well as offer a somewhat RPG element to the game. I enjoy firing up for a few games of Road to the Show and working towards getting him into the major leagues. When you are done playing by yourself, you can always hop online to challenge others. Overall, I really like the improvements done to MLB 08 The Show and hope to see more come in future installments.
More On:MLB 08 The Show
It's a solid baseball game for the PlayStation 3. The Road to the Show is still fun and there are some nice new additions. It's too bad some of the bugs in last year's version still show up.
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