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Graphics: There’s little to complain about visually if you keep your mind in the last generation while playing MLB Power Pros 2008. The cutesy, super-deformed ball players inherit some recognizable behaviors from their real-life counterparts, and they animate well (which is good considering their obvious lack of ankles). The stadiums look pretty good too, but are basically lifeless beyond the crowd’s sporadic hopping after a good hit. I could complain more about this, but for what it’s worth, Power Pros delivers an un-muddied style that’s easy to follow on the field.
Interface: Suffice to say that with all of the options and variables found for every mode in PP; there was no better way to display it other than jamming it all on the screen at once. This method, while functional, can seem a little confusing because of the extra windows clogging the screen at any given time, but it’s not quite as bad as it seems, and after slogging through the manual and paying attention to the info bars at the bottom of the screen, setting up a game mode becomes a bearable process. I think that navigating the menu selections could have been made easier with the help of the Wiimote. Some would say that the cursor inaccuracy might hurt more than help, yet every other game for the Wii uses this method, so why not make it work here?
Gameplay: Holy time sink, Batman! Each of the 10 modes of play can easily eat up hours, weeks or maybe even months of your life if you let them. Success mode and MLB Life are lengthy relatives to the RPG by themselves, but tack on all the extra stuff such as card collection, league play and Season mode and you’ll easily fall into extra innings in no time. I do wish that there were more opportunities to play more actual ball in Success and MLB Life, but those who become antsy can always fire up an exhibition game to swing out their frustrations. I know I did.
The mechanics of the on-field game are handled well. Despite some initial frustrations, a little time in Practice mode to work on batting and pitching smoothed these wrinkles out and allowed me to truly start enjoying the basics of the game.
Multiplayer: The Wii and online functionality is not a combination that is as widespread as most gamers would like. With that said, it almost hurts not to be able to take your ball player on “the intertube” and knuckleball a path to victory. Why can’t I pit my custom players or teams against the teeming masses? Where’s my option to brag about my card collection? With all the work I put into everything, why can’t I show it off!?
It’s not as solitary as I make it sound. Although there’s only room for two players, multiplayer mode works as flawlessly as you might expect, dishing out some great plays that you and your couch-buddy can celebrate or curse in the privacy of your own home.
Sound FX: This is baseball, and aside from the lack of peanut salesmen loudly hawking their wares up and down the bleachers, every traditional sound is crisp and accurate. From the “piff” of a ball hitting an oiled glove to a blistering centerfield knock out of the park; it’s all represented extremely well. The commentary is also on par, if a little repetitive at times, and aside from the crowd not mirroring the announcer’s enthusiasm, this could be considered one of the more impressive portions of the game.
Music: There’s nothing particularly notable in the rock-heavy soundtrack of MLB PP, and even though the tracks are varied, they end up looping too often and become a nuisance after a few minutes. I’d say just turn them down, but there doesn’t appear to be an option to adjust any volume levels except the stadium PA in an actual game.
Intelligence: The opposing team wants to win, just like you, yet success or failure rests entirely in your hand. The harder the difficulty setting, the harder the other team will try to stop you. Be it an impenetrable outfield that catches everything not put over the wall, or batters that exploit holes in your infield, there’s no doubt that the computer knows the game better than you do. Start at a lower level to get an idea of how the game works, then ramp it up and put the A.I. to the test.
Difficulty: Just about every facet of the game can be tweaked and altered to your taste, making MLB Power Pros 2008 any level of difficulty you want it to be. Your alterations can turn your opponent into a monster or a Little League analog who barely knows the sport at all. Success mode and MLB Life are basically decision-making processes that are based on the skills in which you choose to invest, so how your player performs is all down to actions you perform along the way. I love choice, and Power Pros gives me that and then some, making the difficulty anything I want it to be.
Overall: MLB Power Pros 2008 is much more than a baseball game with a big head; it is a host of diamond-centric game types wrapped in the shell of a stitched apple and filled to the rim with details, options and charm. There is a considerable amount of time that can be lost here, and a lot of the aforementioned details might scare away fans of simpler titles, yet I have to say that this is one of the better, if not the best sports title available for the Wii.
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