E3 2008: MLB Power Pros 2008 Hands-On - Success Stories and Spicy Steak

We delve further into this sequel's role-playing modes.

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Last year's MLB Power Pros was a surprisingly deep and charming package, brimming with all sorts of weird and wonderful ways to experience America's favorite pastime. We spent a healthy chunk of time on the E3 2008 show floor with its upcoming sequel, MLB Power Pros 2008. John Dickerson with 2K Sports led us through some of its features, and we're here to report on the game--particularly on Success mode, a role-playing-game mode in which you rise through the minor leagues, playing for a team called the GreenApples.

In Success Mode, you choose various menu options to decide how you want to spend your time, which could mean making a trip to the park, training in various areas, or going to work in the local steak restaurant. Your character doesn't freely roam about; rather, you choose your activities from a menu, and then he automatically performs those actions. Activities, like visits to the hot dog stand, not only have positive effects on you, but also further the story and introduce you to a series of wacky characters, complete with bizzarro dialogue. In no other baseball game will a character named Isabela invite you to eat her habanero pepper steak and then invite you to work for her. And, as you would want in any Japanese RPG, the main character suffers from amnesia!

Training activities are also automated, but when you choose to train in a certain area--speed or fielding, for example--five cards are randomly drawn that determine the success of your training session. There are three types of cards that boil down to bad, good, and bonus. Being dealt five bonus cards will result in a terrific boost to your abilities. As you level up, you can then further develop your character by spending skill points.

You'll most likely end up benched for your first baseball game, but you will eventually play, though in this mode, it doesn't appear as though you'll be doing any fielding. Our at-bats went rather well because the controls are relatively simple. Before the pitch, you can see the strike zone, and as the pitcher winds up, you see where in the strike zone the pitch will land. To hit the ball, you use the Nunchuk to position your bat and press A on the Wii Remote to swing. There aren't any motion controls featured in Success mode or, indeed, in most of the modes. There is, however, a Wii Remote mode that functions essentially like the baseball game in Wii Sports and utilizes motion controls.

There are tons of other ways to play, however. We took on another team in Exhibition mode as the Cleveland Indians (gluttons for punishment that we are), where we had a chance to pitch and field, as well as hit. It was a breeze to select a pitch and throw using the Nunchuk's analog stick and the D pad. We could also attempt to pick off base runners if they tried to steal, though we were sadly never very successful at it. Maybe it was just a Cleveland thing, but no worries: You can play as any existing MLB team--and even tailor players' stats to your liking.

But wait: There's more! Another RPG mode, MLB Life, will let you hop into the shoes of a popular major leaguer (Dickerson mentioned David Ortiz as one option) and date women, buy bling, and generally live the high life. You can play an entire season, enter a home run derby, play a custom tournament, create a dream team, and purchase baseball cards. As you can see, there's a ton of options squeezed into this sequel. Not bad for a cartoony game that lets you import your own Miis!

If all of this sounds appealing, you won't need to wait long. MLB Power Pros 2008 is due on store shelves later this month, both on the Wii and on the PlayStation 2--and a DS version is coming in September.

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