Just like most of our staff and readers, I'm a baseball junkie. The only sports games that I enjoy playing more than baseball games are football (soccer) games. I'm not one to double dip on games (buy the same game for multiple systems) but for The Show I felt I had to. I purchased it for both the PlayStation 3 and PSP to get the full experience.
SCEA San Diego cleaned up the graphics from last year and stopped quite a bit of the stuttering and slowdown. The player models are excellent and the stadiums look simply amazing for a handheld system.
Is there any company that puts out a baseball game that captures the ambiance and thrill of the sounds of a baseball game better than SCEA? The bat sounds and ambient ball park noise of The Show really make it seem as though you are there, and that's not even mentioning the commentary. SCEA has the best commentating team for any baseball team that's come out. Matt Vasgersian, Rex Hudler, and Dave Campbell make the game as lifelike as possible and touch on streaks, milestones, and even stats from the current game. I thought the commentary from last year would be hard to top, but SCEA topped it.
I love the new base running controls because it makes things so much easier on the base paths than in previous years. It seems there's been a movement in sports games the last few years to complicate the controls, and I'm so glad that SCEA has resisted that so far. The batting, fielding, and pitching controls are easy and intuitive to use.
Even though it's been years since the first MVP Baseball 2005 came out, I still love and use the pitching meter that is also used in The Show. I set my control way down with sliders and I get a good number of walks and errant pitches as well.
The Show for PSP doesn't have all the options that it's big brother on the PS3 does, but you find that you don't miss many of them. There is no franchise mode, but there is both a season mode as well as the great Road to the Show mode. The addition of those two modes made the loss of a franchise mode more bearable. There's also a home run derby mode, Manage Only Mode, and Exhibition game modes. One of the biggest disappointments for me is that there is no franchise swapping between the PS3 and PSP versions, but according to SCEA, they're trying their best to get it in for next year. The minor leagues aren't playable except in the Road to the Show mode, but you'll probably find that you don't miss them that much.
If you enjoy The Show on the PS3, then chances are you'll enjoy it on the PSP as well. It plays virtually the same game as it's big brother on the PS3. This is hands down the best baseball simulation for consoles on the market today, be it a handheld or home console. You'll see small things on the PSP version that amaze you as well.
I feel that our own Steve Semple did a great job in his review of The Show for PS3 and since the gameplay on the PSP mirrors that of the PS3 version, I'll skimp a bit on the gameplay impressions. To put it simply, the PSP is a smaller version of the PS3 version. If you enjoy the PS3 version, then you'll enjoy the PSP version. Got that? Good
I jumped into a quick game online and it was a bit laggy. I hope that SCEA can clean that up as baseball requires less lag than any other sport online due to the pitching. SCEA does provide weekly roster updates and you can even download news items about your favorite teams to read them later offline. Nice touch for your baseball news on the go.
In closing, if you own a PSP and are looking for a great baseball game to just pick up and play, The Show 08 is the game for you. It does almost everything as well as the PS3 version. It's missing a few of the bells and whistles, but it's understandable since UMD's can't hold the same amount of info as a Blu-ray disc. This game is well worth it's $39.99 price tag and I'm almost sure that I'll be playing it non stop until MLB 09 comes out.
Points taken off for the unreliable online play, but once the problems are fixed, I'll move the score to a 9/10.