(Want to win a copy of “MLB 08: The Show” for Playstation 3? Check out the end of this review to see how you can get one for free.)

I have an admission to make.

I play video games.

No, I’m not a gamer; I’m not playing World of Warcraft with Leeroy Jenkins or anything. I do, however, play baseball video games and golf video games. I’ve been playing various baseball video games since Atari. When “Realsports Baseball” was released, I was astounded. I thought it was the greatest technological advancement in history.

I’ve grown up a little since then. I went to college and law school, got married and had two kids, was elected District Attorney, and then appointed by the legislature to be a state court judge. Yes, I’m an adult now. But just as I still have a passion for the Reds, I still enjoy baseball video games, and I’ve played a number of them.

I say, without question, “MLB 08: The Show” is the greatest baseball video game of all time.

For the rest of the review, and details on how to win a copy of the game, click below:

For those of you unfamiliar with the franchise, “MLB 08: The Show” is Sony’s long-running officially-licensed baseball title available exclusively on all PlayStation platforms: PLAYSTATION 3, PlayStation 2 and the portable PSP. I played last year’s version on the PS2, but this review is based on the PS3 version.

MLB 08: The Show

A couple of weeks ago, I downloaded the demo version of The Show after seeing some screenshots of the upcoming game. I was already a fan of the series after playing MLB 07, and the demo of the new game didn’t disappoint. Unbelievably realistic. Of course, the demo only included the RedSox and the Rockies, so I was eager to play with the Reds, obviously.

Well, “MLB 08: The Show” is now available in stores (all major retailers, evidently), and it took me approximately fifteen minutes to determine that this game is the most realistic baseball simulation available. There are a number of things that I always wanted to see in a baseball video game. “World Series Baseball” for Sega Genesis was the first game to hint at the possibilities of a baseball simulation. In terms of what has been available thus far, it’s safe to say that “MLB 08” has come closer to perfecting the simulation than anyone yet.

The first thing you notice when playing “MLB 08” on PS3 (in sparkling high definition) is how realistic everything looks. Players’ motions are indistinguishable from what you see during televised games. Batting stances are correct. Every detail about each stadium looks perfect. Even the fans act appropriately; when a foul ball goes into the stands, you see the spectators in the vicinity jumping and reaching for the souvenir. Occasionally, you’ll even see a beach ball bouncing around the crowd.

To me, however, what was astounding was how the players look like real life. Adam Dunn looks like Adam Dunn (and his actions in the field and at bat are just like Dunn). Bronson Arroyo looks like Bronson Arroyo (just ask my wife, who was amazed). Brandon Phillips got tossed out in one of my early games for arguing an out call at first base. Gary Majewski…well, I don’t know what Majewski looks like because I released him immediately upon taking control of the Reds in franchise mode. Anyway, “MLB 08” has done a better job on that front than any game I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen most of them).

I don’t have the space here to go into all the features of the game, but there are a ton. For example, almost any type of statistical information you could want is available at your fingertips, even during the game. The in-game batter/pitcher analysis tool is invaluable. There is a replay vault that allows players to access any play within any game, which turns out to be a pretty cool feature. You can actually save your game at any point during the game, which is a great feature for people like me who don’t always have time to play a full game before turning the system off.

Obviously, the Road To The Show mode is one of the primary features of the game, and it is greatly improved over last year’s version. Basically, you get to create a player, then take him on the path to the big leagues. You start in the minors and you are responsible for just that player in every game as you try to get the big club to call you up, then try to stay in the majors, then try to put together a Hall of Fame career. It’s a lot cooler than I’m able to put into words.

MLB 08 The Show for PlayStation delivers the closest experience possible next to actually playing in the Majors. I agree with GameSpot’s assessment: it’s “the baseball game to get if you’re a PlayStation 3 owner looking to play America’s Pastime.”

Okay, giveaway time!

So, want to own it? Well, here’s your chance. Redleg Nation has five copies to give away, absolutely free, to the winners of the contest I’m about to announce.

There are four different ways to win a copy. I’m going to ask you to make some predictions, and the first person to email me the correct answer will win a copy of the PS3 version of “MLB 08: The Show.” Email me your best guess as to the following questions:

1. What will be the lineup for Dusty Baker’s Reds on Opening Day?
2. Who will be the Reds’ first winning pitcher of the 2008 season?
3. Who will be the first relief pitcher to see action in the 2008 season?
4. Who will be the first pinch hitter of the 2008 season?

Okay, here are the rules:

1) You have until midnight on March 30 to submit your best guesses.
2) Entries must be emailed to me at [email protected]
3) You may submit only one entry per person, and anyone is welcome to participate.
4) Participants who fail to provide a valid email address are disqualified.
5) You may answer all the questions, but each person is eligible only to win one copy.
6) Questions should be emailed to me, as well.

The winner on each will be the first person to submit the answer that turns out to be correct. If no one answers correctly, the closest answer will win (first person to submit the second reliever or pinch hitter, etc). If the only person to answer correctly has already won a copy, the closest competitor will win.

We plan to give away four copies of the PS3 game at this time. Soon, we will have a caption contest for the final giveaway copy.

It’s a great game, and you are going to love it. Submit your entries as soon as possible.