04/28/2008 2:48 PM ET
MLB 08 The Show has got game
Video game turns up technology to enhance reality
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
MLB 08 The Show came out March 4 for PlayStation3, PlayStation2 and PSP systems. (Courtesy of MLB 08 The Show)
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When asked how realistic the new video game MLB 08 The Show seems, Troy Mack, Sony Computer Entertainment America, Inc.'s product manager, puts it this way.
"If you're looking out of the corner of your eye while walking past a friend's television that's displaying the game, there's a good chance you might ask your buddy, 'What game are you watching?'"
This might be a scary thought to some, but for gamers, seamheads and technology geeks, it's heaven.
"It really is amazing," Mack adds. "These video games get so much more realistic and lifelike year in and year out. The goal for our development team with The Show is to create an experience for gamers where as they're playing it on TV, you can kind of get lost in thinking you're watching a real game.
"Basically, until the day comes when you can't tell a difference between a live game on TV and our video game, our guys always have something to strive for."
MLB 08 The Show, which came out March 4 and is available exclusively for the PlayStation3, PlayStation2 and PSP systems, is the latest and greatest in real-life baseball video gaming.
The new and improved features practically jump out of the box like the ball off the bat of Philadelphia Phillies slugger Ryan Howard, who graces the MLB 08 The Show cover.
The first feature Mack pointed out was the beefed-up "Road to The Show" mode, which allows a gamer to create a player and try to get him into the Major Leagues and be a success at that level.
You play your created player from the third-person perspective, with "everything based on player-centric cameras," according to Mack.
"If you're playing left field, you're looking over the left-fielder's shoulder. Everything that unfolds in the game is from your perspective as position player. And being able to enhance that is a big win. That role is more robust and much deeper."
Another improved element of the game is the goal system, which Mack says is much more dynamic and more informative for consumers.
"You have the ability now to where if you get sent down to the Minors or called up to the Majors, there's extensive dialogue and communication that goes on at all times," Mack says. "Any time you're called up or sent back down, you know why it happened.
"It could be because you're missing signs from the third-base coach. And if it continues to happen, you get sent back down."
That intense, intuitive kind of thinking carries on into all aspects of the game.
There's a brand-new in-game pitcher and batter analysis that allows you, at the push of a button, to find out a pitcher or hitter's hot or cold zones and how you should attack, lay off, protect or go after them.
There's a new feature called "My MLB Music," which houses the playlist of songs that have been built into the game but also allows you to download songs, load those into your game and create your own customizable soundtrack for up to 50 songs.
There's a replay vault that lets you go back through your own archive of played games and call up the highlight reel.
You can save a game in the middle of it without finishing all nine innings.
And there's also a progressive batting performance feature that Mack says the company is particularly proud of.
"Depending on how you're hitting or taking advantage of opportunities or missing them, so goes your hitting ability within the game," Mack explains. "Missing pitches in hot zones that you should be hitting leads to a decline in your batting ability.
"Likewise, if you're jumping on balls in cold zones or go on a little tear, that stuff will boost you up and increase morale and performance."
There are plenty of bells and whistles, too.
Mack says Sony went all-out to improve the atmosphere of the game, so throughout the play of MLB 08 The Show, you'll see fans in the stands hanging up K signs for strikeouts, kids reaching over railings to get foul balls and more typical displays of the Grand Old Game in action.
"The whole atmosphere has really been one-upped this year from where it was last year," Mack says. "I don't think there's any better solution to get your baseball fix than MLB 08 The Show."
And with positive review after positive review rolling in, Mack says the development team couldn't be happier.
"We're basking in it right now," Mack says. "But don't worry. The guys are already figuring out what to do to make a quantum leap next year."
Doug Miller is a Senior Writer for MLB.com/Entertainment. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.