I happen to concur with Homer Simpson’s attitude on baseball. When he abstained from alcohol for a week, he showed up to the ballpark (sober) and exclaimed, “I never realized how boring this game is!”
2K Sports answers these critics with The Bigs. The game interjects excitement into America’s pastime with two separate power-ups. This was enough for me to actually take an interest in the sport. When pitching, strikes and taking balls while hitting will earn you turbo, which you can then use to power-up your character by hitting farther/more accurately, running faster, or throwing faster. You can also use this turbo to throw faster pitches.
There is also a second “power-up” bar which is filled by getting hits and making “big plays” such as diving catches and double plays. When this meter fills up, you can activate either a Power Blast or Big Heat. A Power Blast just requires you to connect with the ball for an automatic home run. Big Heat is pitching that batter with permanent turbo, with a successful strikeout resulting in stealing half of the opponents turbo.
Your pitchers get progressively easier to hit the longer they stay in the game. Every hit decreases the stamina of the individual pitch until you eventually can’t throw it anymore. Pitchers also have a separate personal stamina meter such that you will need to rotate your pitching staff much like IRL. You can also bean a hitter when the hitter isn’t using his turbo, although this seems to have no effect other than getting some turbo and taking first base. There is no intentional walk in the game.
This isn’t Mario baseball – hitting will take some practice. You have two types of swings, contact and power. A perfect contact hit will drop it between the in and outfield, while a power hit will aim for the fences. If you come close to the fences (but are short of a “perfect” hit, the outfielder will have the opportunity for a wall grab.
While you can steal bases, this becomes suicidal by the 2nd inning as the fielding team will have enough turbo in the bank to use a turbo-throw from the catcher to 2nd base. Because I was controlling the batter, the steal happened too quickly for me to switch to the runner and use my turbo to speed up the steal. So this was one negative in my book.
The single player campaign is entertaining. It consists of creating a rookie and picking a MLB team. With every win, you earn credit towards upgrading your rookie’s hitting, fielding, or running stats. Modding options were poor, in that I couldn’t modify the race or physical attributes of the player. An interesting twist is that with every triple-header you play, you can literally “steal” any one player from the opposite team upon completion. So by the time the “trade deadline passes,” your team resembles something like the All-Stars.
The game’s mechanics are twitchy enough so that when you finally buff your rookie’s statistics, you beam with pride when the commentator would say things like, “Uh oh, this is the last guy he wanted to see ….”
Overall, I thought this game was worth picking up. Originally, I was afraid that this was going to play like 5-card draw with too many jokers. Instead, I found that the turbos enhanced (or at least delay) what otherwise would have been rote gameplay.
The turbos do change the nature of the game. When playing, I noticed that instead of getting as many runs as possible, I was also focused on the other team’s power-up bar. Sometimes I would tank the play or just bunt to end the inning in order for my opponent to not earn points on the play for a full power bar.
The primary negative of this game is the repetitive nature of baseball. The MLB teams don’t seem to have any variety in the way they play. The NY Yankees play about the same as the KC Royals, except that one team has better pitchers/batters than the other. So for me, it tended to get a bit tedious playing game after game to slug my way to the World Series. For variety, the second game is usually a scenario (down by X in the X inning, win the game) or stat challenge (hit 5 RBI’s with your rookie). I liked the scenarios, but the stat challenges were sometimes annoying when limited to just your rookie.
If you want to play a baseball simulator, there are other games for that. But if you want baseball with a little extra BAM! thrown in, give The Bigs a chance.
Recommendation: Download the demo. If you like the gameplay, pick up the game.