First off it should be known that I do not like baseball. Yes, I know that it is the “American Pastime” and I should be all about it but baseball is just so boring. I mean waiting for a pitcher to pitch, and then the batter has to pick the right pitch to swing too. ARGH! It is just too slow. So when I heard about The BIGS I was excited. I had always liked the Slugfest series that Midway had put out, with its “on fire” batters and punching outfielders it is no surprise as to why I liked it so much.
The BIGS takes what you know about baseball and adds in a little bit of arcade action to the mix. It doesn’t go way over the top like Slugfest did, so you won’t find any punching out fielders or what I will most certainly miss most, the batter storming the mound and pummeling the pitcher when he hits the batter with a fastball. What you will find is a very good balance of simulation and arcade.
First up is the graphics in this game. It may not be as beautiful as the MLB 2K series but it is good looking just the same. You will notice top notch character models, and uniforms. The stadiums are all also very true to life and done really well. Outside of the awesome job that was done in modeling each individual player, I thought the grass (or turf) depending on which stadium you are playing in look absolutely fabulous. If I had to say something negative about the graphics it would be that the game doesn’t “scream” next gen. I know I know not many games that are out right now really feel next gen anyway. Considering this one is also on the PS2 and Wii that might have something to do with it. Outside of that I missed the flowing jerseys that I have come to know and love from 2K Sports. I was really disappointed when I made my rookie, and didn’t see his jersey blowing in the wind.
Let’s move on to game play, as I said in the beginning of this review I am not fond of baseball games. I have played them, and I know the basics that you have to understand to play a game of baseball, but I can honestly say that the fielding in this game is not the friendliest of interfaces. First off when you are playing the outfield you will control the pitcher. Each pitcher has 4 different pitches in their repertoire, which is mapped to each face button. When you press the button for the pitch that tickles your fancy, you will see a green meter on the side of the screen once that meter has passed the line at the top release the button and you will throw a pitch.
When and if that pitch is hit, the game will automatically give you control of the outfielder closet to the ball. Sounds all well and good doesn’t it? Yea, well looks can be deceiving. What you will quickly find out is that the game gives you control of the fielder that is closest to where the ball is going land! So let’s say a ball is hit to right field, but the shortstop could easily just dive and grab it for an easy out. Well the game won’t give you control of the shortstop for the easy out, you will gain control of your right fielder and miss out on the chance to take your man down. There is a way to select a different fielder, if you hit the Left Trigger you will take control of a different fielder, trouble is you can only gain control of the nearest one to the ball. So if you need your shortstop, but the ball is headed to right chances are you can only switch between your right fielder and center fielder. You will become very frustrated with this especially in the multiplayer co-op!
On the flip side though the batting controls and playing offense is actually really well done. You have a power hit button, and a contact button, depending on if you just want to get a man on base, or swing for the fences. Once you hit the ball running is pretty easy. If you hold or tap the Left Bumper you can make all runners advance, if you want to control them individually you just need to press the corresponding button to the base they are on. (First is B, Second is Y Third is X) One really cool feature is when you are running for home plate, and the catcher gets the ball before you get there, when you get close enough time will slow down and a meter will appear. You have to hit A as hard and as fast as you can, so when you collide with the catcher you will knock the ball out of his hand.
Of course what arcade style baseball game wouldn’t have a turbo meter? Well The BIGS doesn’t disappoint. In this game on defense you earn turbo, by pitching strikes, getting outs, or completing amazing catches. For instance, when someone hits a ball to the fences, if you get into the marked area and press the A button, your outfielder will fun up the wall and jump and time will slow down, at this point you have to complete the button press in the right order and your player will perform an amazing catch. I must admit, it is pretty amazing to see! Pun intended. On the flip side, when it is your turn at bat you can earn turbo by hitting and homer, or getting on a base. Turbo helps out by making you faster and stronger of course. Unlike Slugfest though The Bigs implements the turbo in a slightly different way.
You can use turbo when you are at bat, but then you have to press it again when you are running bases. No longer can you just hold down the turbo button for a constant boost. This in this reviewer’s opinion adds a bit more strategy to the use of turbo. Do you use it just to get on base, or safe it for the outfield so you can quickly take down the other team? Once you earn enough points from doing the things listed above you will get Big Heat mode. Which when activated will let you hit an automatic homer, if you can make contact with the ball, and if you are pitcher it will allow you to throw super fast pitches. If for instance you and your opponent activate this feature at the same time dual mode will be activated. If you as the pitcher can strike out the batter you will automatically fill up your meter and have another go at Big Heat. Again this really adds to the strategy of the game.
Let’s talk Multiplayer, this game offers two ways to play. One is just Console vs. Console, the other is Co-op. I am here to tell you that the Co-Op is really fun, but if you are a really serious player might end a friendship if you make too many mistakes. Killer Wolverine almost stopped being my friend after I caused us to lose 3 games in a row with my sucky out fielding skills. How the Co-Op works is this, when you are on defense one of you will pitch and the other will field. For some strange reason though the game will let the pitcher take control of the fielders, and you will think you are controlling him, but it is actually your friend. That will cause some frustration. When on offense you both will take turns controlling batters. Once on a base though you will still control your runner, you have to make him and go and make him tag up when needed. If not, he will just stand there and look stupid. The nice thing is everything rotates after each inning so you won’t get bored pitching or fielding.
This game rocks, and should be picked up by sports fans, and baseball fans alike. It has just enough realism to keep the hardcore baseball fans entertained, but just enough arcadeness to keep us people that think baseball is boring coming back for more.