Review: Major League Baseball 2K8 (Nintendo Wii)

Major League Baseball 2K8
Genre: Sports
Developer:Kush Games
Publisher: 2K Sports
Release Date: March 4th, 2008

I love spring time. It’s the time of year when things warm up, it gets a little less gray and miserable outside, and baseball starts up again after an offseason that seems to last forever. There’s nothing better than sitting outside, grilling some hot dogs, drinking a beer nice bottle of pop since I’m underage, and watching a game. It’s nice to see the Cubs are in midseason form as far as inducing heart attacks goes and the meaningless stats are emerging that try to predict the end of a 162 game season based on the first week of games. Now, what better way to ring in the season than with a brand new 2K Sports baseball offering, MLB 2K8. Since I’ve gotten my Wii I’ve been waiting for a serious baseball game. Wii Sports? Definitely un-serious. The Bigs? Too arcadeish. So after waiting and waiting and waiting for a realistic baseball game, will 2K hit one out of the park, or fizzle out worse than the Tigers (thus far)?

At first glance, MLB 2K8 on the Wii seems like what we’ve come to expect from 2K. You can pick up the game and play an exhibition game, run every aspect of your favorite franchise, play a season without the deeper franchise-running options, play a Home Run Derby, organize a tournament, or play in “Situation Mode”, in which you can customize how you start a game: pick an inning, how many outs, how many on, etc. It’s pretty extensive, but nothing we haven’t seen before. There are several new features that are getting praise in other versions of the game that aren’t present in the Wii version, most notably the trading card system, which gives you player’s cards based on performing certain actions with that player, ability to play as Minor League teams and online play. Not off to a great start.

Let’s get to the most important part of this game: the controls. MLB 2K8 brings new batting and pitching mechanics based on the Wii’s motion sensing control. You pick a pitch with the Nunchuk’s control stick, point the Wiimote at where you want the ball to go, raise it straight up to wind up and flick it down to pitch when the meter hits the right place. The catcher lets you know what pitch to throw, and if he wants it to be a strike or ball. You can also purchase scouting reports to let you know exactly where each batter is hot or cold. It’s rather boring as far as motion sensing is concerned, but it works well. And it’s easy for those of us that want to bean someone in the head to learn them a little respect. I like it.

Batting, on the other hand, is buggy, to say the least. Recall Wii Sports, in which the bat follows your every move with the Wiimote. The game says you should have the same control in MLB 2K8 but it just doesn’t work. A full swing with the Wiimote is supposed to translate to a full swing of the bat, but it’s way too sensitive. The slightest flick of the wrist will register as you swinging for the fences. I swear to God, one time I just thought “I should swing at this pitch” and the player swung without me moving the Wiimote the slightest bit. The nerve impulse to swing had barely traveled down my arm before it swung. You should also be able to stop your swinging motion, which would cause your player to check his swing in the game. The aforementioned sensitivity issues make this a near impossibility, and sometimes I take a full swing and the player checks anyway. It’s innovative and different, but it could have used a bit more development before the game was released. Baserunning and fielding are okay, though there are some issues. With baserunning, the placement of the buttons on the Wiimote and Nunchuk can get a bit confusing, as you can do quite a lot with a design that’s not conducive to maneuvering your hands around, but it’s playable. Sometimes I mean to sprint to first after hitting and end up telling the guy to go to second, and he ends up out, but that’s more a mistake on my end than their’s.

The A.I. is pretty consistent throughout the game. Good teams will be tough, and bad teams won’t. They fight back if you bean one of the opposing players and sometimes I could swear they were stealing my pitcher’s signals, though I can’t back that up.

Criticizing a Wii game for having poor graphics at this point feels like criticizing a handicapped person for not being able to walk straight, but the graphics in this game aren’t up to par. They’re pretty much that same as anything you’d find on the PS2. I hear the other next-gen systems have much better visuals, but they’re laggy to the max, so maybe it’s for the best that the graphics on the Wii are rather primitive. The sound is what you’d expect from a 2K game, as Jon Miller and Joe Morgan bring their blend of commentating to the next-gen. It’s not that great, as their commentary often times doesn’t match what happens onscreen, and their insights ordinarily don’t help you very much, but then again, they’re not real, so it’s hard to take what they say seriously no matter what it is. There’s also an extensive soundtrack to the game, including “Cleveland Rocks” from the Presidents of the United States of America, which almost makes up for the lackluster commentary by itself.

If you’re a baseball fan with a Wii, you should try out MLB 2K8. It’s not a great baseball game, but it’s not the worst. Most of the classic modes are all there for those that want to play a game or those that want to run a franchise from their living rooms, though the gameplay mechanics can use a bit of work. I don’t really mind that they left out some elements like online play and the trading cards, but if you’re looking for a deeper experience, you should look elsewhere. Like MLB “Ëœ08 The Show, for those of you with other next-gen systems.

The Scores
Story/Modes: Decent
Graphics: Below Average
Sound: Decent
Control/Gameplay: Decent
Replayability: Decent
Balance: Above Average
Originality: Poor
Addictiveness: Above Average
Appeal: Good
Miscellaneous: Mediocre

Final Score: Decent

Short Attention Span Summary:

MLB 2K8 is nothing revolutionary, but it’s still fun to play. It’s about as bare minimum as next-gen console baseball games can get, but if you can look past a few missing features and some gameplay issues, you have a good little baseball game. If you can’t look past it, look elsewhere or, in the spirit of my Chicago Cubs, there’s always next year.

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