MLB 2K8 is full of new ideas; unfortunately, it's also filled with technical problems.
- Signature styles for pitchers and hitters look great
- 2K cards is a promising new feature
- No shortage of game modes.
- Bugs, glitches, and other technical problems mar nearly every aspect of the game
- Frame rate is extremely poor during fielding
- Online play lags
- Collecting cards is cumbersome.
2K Sports deserves credit for trying to deliver more than a roster update with MLB 2K8. There's a new pitching mechanic, fielding has been revamped, and you can now put together your own team using in-game baseball cards. There are also new bugs and poor design choices that come with every new feature, making MLB 2K8 as frustrating as it is enjoyable.
The most notable change to how 2K8 plays when compared to 2K7 is the new pitching mechanic. To throw a pitch, you pull the right analog stick in the direction shown in the pitch's diagram and then wait for the expanding ring to flash. This determines the effectiveness of the pitch. Then you release the stick when the ring has contracted into the release zone to throw the pitch. For example, to throw a curveball, you would move the stick diagonally to the lower left and then make a counterclockwise motion. If you time it all right, the pitch goes where you want it to, but if you're just a bit off, the ball will end up several inches from its intended target--a big problem if you're trying to paint the corners. Certainly, pitchers miss their spots in real life, but very seldom are they punished like in 2K8. If you're really off with your timing or stick movement, you'll throw a meatball, and if you throw a meatball, chances are pretty good that you're giving up a home run. The problem is that the game is extremely demanding when it comes to throwing a pitch properly, but how it determines what is and isn't a good pitch doesn't seem to be as precise. Sometimes you'll see the red flash that indicates you're getting ready to throw a meatball before you've completed the first gesture; at other times, the game will think you're throwing one pitch when you're trying to throw another. This is extremely frustrating and will likely cause you to switch to the traditional button-pressing method of pitching if you care at all about winning close games.
Pitching is just one of several mechanics that utilize the right analog stick. Once again, hitting is mapped to the right stick, though you can swing via buttons if you prefer. To swing, you pull the right stick back when the pitcher is getting ready to release the ball and then push forward to swing. The game manual says you release the stick after pulling it back to perform a contact swing, but this doesn't actually do anything. Although it may not work as described in the manual, this method of hitting generally works well. It certainly works better than last year, though it's still extremely difficult to judge a pitch's location and still have time to swing.
Fielding also eschews buttons for the right analog stick. You move your fielder with the left analog stick, and to throw the ball, you push the right analog stick in the direction of your desired base. As soon as you move the stick, a meter begins to fill. When it's filled to the center section, you release the stick and the player makes the throw. If you move the stick to the wrong spot or you release too late or early, you'll unleash an errant throw and either pull your man off base or the ball will go right past the base. For the most part, this new method works well, and it makes routine throws a little less routine, which in turn keeps them interesting. That's not to say fielding doesn't have its problems--because it has plenty. Players will fail to even attempt to pick up slow-rolling ground balls at least once a game, and they'll stay down on the ground as if they've been shot for what feels like an eternity if they miss a diving catch. Outfielders really have it rough. You have to call one of them off if they're anywhere near one another or they'll knock each other down, and they'll get in each other's way if they're both trying to pick up a ball in the outfield. While they make like Willie Mays on balls hit over their heads, they have a tough time getting to any ball hit in front of them.
The trend of new ideas that is almost really cool but has a fatal flaw continues with 2K8's 2K cards: in-game baseball cards you can earn by performing certain feats with specific players. For example: To unlock Randy Johnson, you need to strike out eight batters in a game; to earn David Ortiz, you must hit two homers in a game; and to unlock Derrek Lee, you need to get three hits in a single game. The cards aren't just for collecting; you can put a team together and then take that team online to play other users' card teams. There's quite a bit of strategy involved when putting together a team because each card has a monetary value assigned to it that counts against your team's $150 million cap. There are three different types of cards: black, gold, and platinum. Each player has one of each type, with the difference being that a black card counts the most against the cap and platinum the least. The higher the difficulty you play, the better your odds are of earning a gold or platinum card.
This is a really neat feature that's held back by a number of problems. For starters, it's incredibly time-consuming to put together a team because most of the feats required to unlock a player are rather difficult. You can't unlock player cards using a custom difficulty setting either. You can purchase packs, but they cost 500 credits, and the only way to earn credits is to sell cards you've already unlocked. These typically go for five to 20 credits apiece, so you're looking at playing quite a few games to earn enough just to buy one pack because you'll probably only unlock two to five cards a game. The game promises a legend player in every pack, but we won or purchased seven or eight new packs and never received one. You can unlock wild cards by hitting home runs, stealing bases, and striking out players, but unless you're playing on the punishing harder difficulties, you're not likely to earn very many; thus, you're not likely to earn any gold or platinum cards.
When you play online with your card team, the game randomly selects both teams' starting pitcher, thereby encouraging you to put together a proper five-man rotation, but as soon as the game starts, you can put in any starting pitcher you like, thereby negating the random selection process. That doesn't really matter though, because you're not likely to play online. It lags so much that it's nearly unplayable, and it's definitely not fun. 2K Sports is onto something with this card feature, but it needs another year in the minors before it's user-friendly enough for the show.
- Player Reviews: 12
- Game Universe:
- Major League Baseball 2K5 (XBOX, PS2, XBOX, PS2),
- Major League Baseball 2K6 (X360, XBOX, GC, PS2, PSP),
- Major League Baseball 2K7 (X360, PSP, XBOX, PS3, PS2, DS, GBA),
- Major League Baseball 2K8 (X360, PS3, PS2, PSP, WII),
- Major League Baseball 2K9 (WII, PS3, X360, PS2, PSP, PC),
- Major League Baseball 2K10 (WII, PS3, X360, PS2, PSP, DS, PC),
- Major League Baseball 2K11 (X360, PS3, PS2, PSP, WII, PC, DS),
- Major League Baseball 2K8 Fantasy All Stars (DS),
- Major League Baseball 2K12 (X360, WII, PC, PSP, PS3, DS, PS2),
- NBA 2K13/MLB 2K13 Combo Pack (PS3, X360)
- Offline Modes:
- Number of Players:
- Number of Online Players:
2 Players Online