Video Game Preview: MLB 2K8

Every calendar year sports titles roll out their latest entries, mostly consisting of updated rosters, one new gameplay feature (that gets nixed the following year) and slight tweaks in the graphic department (high-resolution goatees).

2K Sports, the company that handles MLB exclusively, is well aware of this, and has reevaluated their franchise, rebuilding it from the ground up.

I recently played a test demo of the upcoming Major League Baseball 2K8, scheduled for release next Tuesday – and the changes this year are more than cosmetic.

For starters, the gameplay that was marred with inconsistencies last year (shoddy errors and bugs galore) has been completely revamped. Most controls, whether pitching, fielding or batting, utilize the right analog stick this time around (I played the XBox 360 version; the PS3 uses the same control scheme).

For pitching, buttons have gone by the wayside, with different combinations of analog stick movement determining what pitch you throw and how accurate; batting controls require a back-and-forth upswing to make contact. Throwing to each base is also done with the analog control.

My first impression of the game is that it’s fairly difficult; not many sports sims make you work so hard for your win. But the learning curve is great, and the new controls allow hardcore gamers to hone their skills masterfully while 2K novices can ease into the gameplay without it going over their head.

The depth doesn’t stop there, as fully customizable team options and tradable player cards add a whole new dimension on baseball sims.

There’s still much to say about MLB 2K8; I’ll give it the full review treatment next week.

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