The Bigs Review

The latest title to enter the video game baseball stadium is The Bigs, from 2K Sports. "Oh no!" I heard you say. "Not another baseball game?!" Well sports fans, and everybody else for that matter, this isn’t your father’s baseball game.

While many of these types of games are drawn out and more complicated then Paris Hilton’s weekly charge account, The Bigs plays like greased lightning and is simple to learn.

Gameplay draws you in right away. You’re not fussing and tweaking menus, statistics, and learning the minutia of how baseball works. Instead, you’re right in the heat of action from the get go. Yes, you didn’t misread that last statement. We’re talking about a baseball game that is action packed. One thing that helps the game along is the short innings — only three or five depending on what type of game you’re playing. (And in some rare instances, a full nine- inning game!) But even at nine innings, the game plays extremely quick.

Pitching and batting are as easy as can be. For pitching duties all you need to do is select from a menu of different pitches, pick an area in the strike zone you want to throw the ball at and fire when ready. Batting is no longer an exercise in rocket science and pulling out your hair, either. The main thing you have to concentrate on is timing the swing of your bat instead of guessing where the pitch is. In the harder modes of the game, the dynamics are changed for more of a challenge.

Base running and fielding are semiautomatic and you control the players with the designated controller buttons. Base running controls are still a little loosey-goosey and if you’re not careful, runners sometimes overshoot their bases and get thrown out unintentionally. (This probably happened to me more times than it should have. But hey, I’m just a rookie.)

To add some more spice into the game, there are the features Turbo and Power Up. You fill up the turbo meter by performing strikeouts or laying off on bad pitches if you are the batter. The power up meter goes up as you accumulate points for performing good defensive or offensive plays. Once this meter is filled, you have the ability to either throw pitches that rocket past the batters or hit flaming homeruns out of the park — a very satisfying experience with the bases loaded, I might add.

While there are the standard modes of Play Now and Exhibition, there is also the addition of Baseball Pinball and Home Run Derby. Baseball Pinball is a fun mini-game — the purpose is to slam hits into various neon signs and structures in Times Square. The night scene is really well done and colorful. I would’ve liked to see some different locations but maybe 2K Sports will take care of that the next time around. Home Run Derby was easily the weakest link in the game. Two opponents go head-to-head and slam as many out of the park as possible. As a party game, it might give you some laughs, but as a standalone game it’s pretty boring.

Match-ups during online play with other gamers is a little spotty. I definitely had the feeling that some of these guys had some "special powers" that allowed them to hit home runs at will. In one match there was substantial lag before the game really got going, and after this happened, the other guy transformed into Superman, hitting tall homeruns in a single bound… (I wonder why? Wink,wink.)

But the star of The Bigs is the Rookie Challenge mode. In this segment of the game you develop a rookie into a superstar baseball player. This is done by finishing different missions in the game. As each goal is completed, more unlockables appear, and you get a chance to improve your rookie’s abilities and skills.

The graphics and the sounds of this game are good. The players are buffed up and are slightly superhuman looking, but this isn’t a simulation baseball game so that’s okay, and given Barry Bonds’ chase of the record it’s ironically fitting. The baseball stadiums are true to their real-life counterparts and even the casual baseball fan will appreciate the detail. The animations and cutscenes are cool looking but never too long. The overall look of the graphics in this game should be a real eye-pleaser.

The sound of the crowd, the crack of the bat, and the general ambience of the game puts you right there in the middle of the ballpark. The soundtrack is an extra treat. Here, you’ll find a good selection of tunes from the Stone Temple Pilots, White Zombie, Fu Manchu and a host of others which will make your ears really happy.

2K Sports has really done their homework in making this baseball game entertaining — from the hardcore to the casual, everyone will find something to like about this game. If you can overlook some of the bugs (my outfielder disappeared right through a wall in center field, homeruns are labeled outs, and the announcer tends say the wrong things sometimes), you should be able to pull out quite a few hours of fun from The Bigs.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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