MLB Power Pros 2008 DS Review

DS is great for role-playing, puzzle games and even first person shooters, but it's far from a sports fan's system, in part because of weak efforts from Nintendo (Mario Hoops 3-on-3), Electronic Arts (Madden NFL) and even 2K Sports (MLB 2K7). Now 2K Sports returns to take another crack at America's pastime with a port of MLB Power Pros 2008, and we're proud to report that it's both fun and addictive. It's also about as deep as the average reality show.

Power Pros carries the official MLB license, allowing you to experience the rivalry between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, complete with all of the players and an announcer that mentions their names before they step up to the plate. Sure, there are only four nondescript ballparks to choose from (no Green Monster or the house the Ruth built) and all of the players are cute, 3-D characters with oversized heads, but none of that matters as you blast home runs or send fastballs zipping past a clueless batter. Besides, you can still perform most of the moves found in more realistic baseball games, such as bunting, stealing bases and subbing pitchers and hitters. Everything just looks, you know, adorable.

Although you can navigate the menus via touch screen, you'll maneuver your players, bat and pitch using the d-pad and face buttons (though you can control a runner by tapping him). To pitch, for example, you press a direction on the d-pad that corresponds with a type of pitch (curve ball, fastball, changeup, slider), adjust where you want the ball to go and tap B.

Batting is equally enjoyable, albeit a bit more complicated. Before the pitcher sends the heat, you'll see a yellow box highlighting the strike zone. You also have a Sweetspot Cursor that you can move at any time with the d-pad. The idea is to line up this cursor with a tiny red dot representing the ball's arrival point. Doing that and pressing B gives you the best opportunity to send the ball over the heads of your opponents, but it's not easy. You may need lots of practice and patience before getting the hang of it.

2K Sports uses the top screen for batting and the bottom one for displaying a map of the diamond. When the ball is in play, the top screen transitions to fielding, allowing you to catch the ball or throw it. Both screens work fine, but it's a bit odd seeing the 3-D batter and pitcher on the top screen and flat, 2-D sprites below; it's a strange contrast.

Like most baseball games, you have the option of switching your starting lineup and the number of innings. In addition, there's a Home Run Challenge (hit as many home runs as possible), an eight-team playoff mode (to see if you can reach the World Series) and the ability to edit a team by pulling in players from other clubs, which lets you create a super squad full of all-stars. There's even wireless multiplayer for players with one or two copies of the game. And yet, MLB Power Pros feels empty. Playoffs are cool, but we need a season mode. What about franchise and dynasty? Heck, where are the mini-games and online play? All of those features are available in Sony's PSP baseball games and that makes 2K Sports' effort less impressive. Exhibition games keep us busy, but not for long.

It's this lack of content that keeps MLB Power Pros 2008 from being a great video game. Enjoyable controls and decent graphics make it one of the DS' best sports games, but for $29.99, we expected a little more. However, this is a good start, and we hope 2K Sports builds on this release and publishes a more enhanced game next year.

What's Hot: Fun batting and hitting, decent 3-D graphics, easy to learn controls, has the MLB license.

What's Not: Not enough modes, no online play.

3/5