Spring Training is in full swing and with Opening Day just around the corner, another edition of Major League Baseball 2k is on stores shelves. While last years edition was a big improvement from the year priors, this year it’s a case of two steps forward and two steps back. 2k Sports added some new features to help improve game play, but unfortunately it’s not enough to push the game into greatness.

Let’s take a look at the good first. The pitching system is all new and a lot more fun than anything that has come before. The right stick is the only thing used for all pitches now, with different pitches requiring you maneuver the stick in different directions. Mastering the fastball is easy, but breaking pitches and other off-speed pitches will take some time to master effectively. Another noticeable improvement is the base running system, now all you have to do is simply press the button to the corresponding base, and with the XBox controller it’s pretty easy to figure out which button represents which base. The last notable improvement is the games graphics which seem a bit crisper and more refined compared to previous seasons. The last noticeable improvement was the Swing Stick 2.0. It takes you a while to get the timing down, but once you do you have a lot more control at the plate. While the improvements are noticeable it’s important to note the game has its flaws.

The big addition to the franchise this year is the ability to play minor league games. It’s a nice feature that was available in EA’s MLB games prior to 2k buying the MLB exclusivity rights. You can choose from MLB, A, AA, AAA and all the teams in between.

The biggest issue with the game is the frame rate issue. It’s inexcusable and unprofessional to release a game on a console with this kind of problem. Far too often I found myself watching the screen freeze than resume at a different point, something that became quite irritating very quickly. At times it can get so bad that it makes it a bother to play. Also noticeable was the poor audio commentary. I’m usually a fan of Jon Miller and Joe Morgan, but the play by play became repetitive quickly and at times the commentary was completely contrarian to what was happening in the run of play. Perhaps the biggest flaw I found was it’s all too frequent tendency to freeze. I found myself rebooting the system on a number of occasions, having to restart games or in one case the franchise because nothing was saved.

The online feature hasn’t seen many improvements from last season, but there have been a number of times were lag during the game made it difficult. While MLB 2k8 might have some new enhancements, the flaws in the game are too numerous and more importantly hinder the game. Hopefully 2k Games can right their wrong and release a patch to fix the errors, if so it has the potential to be a very good game. If not, we’re stuck with mediocrity. For now I’d say stick with 2k7 or if you absolutely have to play this, rent it.