Swing and a miss: ‘MLB 2K8’ lowballs sports fans

Josh Rouse

The beginning of baseball season is exciting for numerous reasons. It offers a new beginning, a chance to start anew and become a contender.

For sports gamers, the beginning of the season also means a rush to stores to purchase the newest editions of our favorite baseball games. In the past, this could mean three or four different MLB franchises on a variety of platforms, such as “MVP Baseball,” “High Heat” and the 2K Sports franchise.

However, as an obvious counterstrike to EA Sports making a deal with the NFL for exclusive licensing rights, 2K Sports signed a similar deal giving them the rights to the MLB. As with any monopoly, the lack of competition lowers product quality. This is more than evident in “MLB 2K8.”

Poor graphic designing leads to several unrealistic motions by not only the players, but even their jerseys. An apparent glitch causes an uber-fake jersey motion, which is supposed to simulate the wind blowing the jersey as the batter takes the plate. To get a visualization of how the effect looks, imagine sticking a goose under your shirt.

The menu system is difficult to navigate, especially in the Franchise mode. Even more confusing than the menu maze is the pitching and hitting systems, which are the lovechildren of designers with too much free time and serious drug dependence. Honestly, it’s a good thing that the classic batting and pitching styles are available, or I don’t think I could make it to the end of a game. In addition, the rosters are way out of date. Unless you feel like printing off a list of every transaction since February and doing it yourself, prepare to be burned.

Fielding is also a step above useless in this game, as the settings and new controls make catching a pop fly or throwing to a cutoff man similar to playing a saxophone for the first time; there’s a lot of pushing random buttons, swearing out of frustration and blowing. From what I’ve gathered, the online experience isn’t much better.

There are some good things, though. The minor league system seems to be decent so far, and the soundtrack is at least enjoyable. I do find it hilarious that one of the songs on the soundtrack is “Cleveland Rocks” by Presidents of the United States of America, which was the theme song for “The Drew Carey Show.” I sometimes giggle to myself, imagining that song coming over the loud speakers of Kauffman Stadium as the Indians destroy the Royals on a rainy afternoon.

To sum up my incoherent ramblings, don’t buy this game unless the withdrawals are too strong to handle. Just wait until 2012, when the 2K Sports/MLB contract runs out and we can perhaps enjoy a little competition once again.