Preview: MLB Power Pros 2008 (Wii, PS2, DS)

Last year, I was convinced that there was no baseball game better than MLB ’07: The Show. It had everything I could ask for in a baseball game, and just felt “right”, especially when compared to the dreck that was Major League Baseball 2K7. This year, that’s pretty much the case as well, but at least this year, I won’t be caught off guard like I did last year with a game that competed very well with MLB ’07.

I remember Alex reviewing MLB Power Pros, and scoffing at it; I felt, look at this game! How the hell can a game like this incorporate the hardcore strategy that I like? What is this goofy look? Yeah, OK, it’s cute, and so is Backyard Baseball, so run along and go play with the eight year olds now. And what does Alex “I Like Cute Yellow Rodents” Lucard know about Baseball!? However, I eventually saw it on a shelf for about $20, and figured hey, why not, and picked it up. I was immediately taken for a fool. What I got was a baseball game as deep as any game on the market, and with arguably easier control (not to be confused with “simple”) and tighter physics and less bugs than both MLB ’07 and MLB 2K7; the package that I picked up for $20 was so tight than I wondered aloud whether 2K should make this game – the first American version of the popular Jikkyō Powerful Pro YakyÅ« (Live Powerful Pro Baseball) series – their flagship baseball game. All this, and I scoffed at it because it looked goofy. And I call myself a damn gamer.

This year, I’m not making the same mistake, and I’ll be reviewing a the PS2 version to go with the Wii review being done by Alex “I Love Making Bowen Look Stupid” Lucard. I attended a conference call with 2K about the pending release of the game, and from what it sounds like, it’s shaping up nicely. Once again, we get full MLB teams and rosters (though we were unable to get the roster cut-off date from 2K) for standard Exhibition and Season modes, and on the Wii, you can take your Mii into Exhibition Mode. If Rosters are behind (as they surely will be, being released so close to the trading deadline), you can change things however you like with a surprisingly robust edit mode.

However, the meat of the game is in two separate modes: Success and My Life mode. Success Mode is virtually the same as last year, except now, you’re in the minors and are trying to make the Major Leagues. Last year’s game had you going from high school to the minors while building your statistics and playing through a storyline that might be a bit too over-the-top for some American gamers, but anyone comfortable with a little Japanese in their games will love it. The other new addition is My Life Mode, which allows you to essentially simulate the life of a Major League player, either taking an active player or creating one. From here, you have to play games, but also have to worry about leisure, packing for road trips, training, a social life, etc.; you have near total freedom with what you can do, whether you want to just concentrate on playing, or branch out more. Picture the Superstar mode that used to be in Madden, if Superstar mode didn’t suck.

Gameplay is going to be more or less the same across all three platforms (there is a DS version in addition to the PS2 and Wii versions), which can be a good or a bad thing depending on how much people want customized controls for the DS and Wii (though the Wii will have a separate exhibition mode that allows for custom Wii controls). Personally, this is fine by me; the regular Power Pro gameplay is just fine no matter what system you throw it on, and nothing can screw up a good game like tacking on gimmicky controls where there really is no need for them (Phantom Hourglass, white courtesy phone…).

The Wii version of Power Pros 2008 will retail for $40, the DS version will go for $30, and the PS2 version is $20. Again, I cannot stress this enough, and take this from the biggest “realism is good” geek on the staff: this is a solid baseball game that won’t disappoint, and deserves support for being a solid product. Give it at least a rental to see if you like it. I am confident that this year’s version will be just as solid as last year’s.

Check the images below for some screenshots from the game.

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