THE GIST: THE BIGS is developer Blue Castle Games’ offering on the whole “extreme” take on sports in the vein of NFL Blitz, NBA JAM, and MLB Slugfest. Build up your respective POWER BLAST or BIG HEAT meters by performing certain in-game tasks and unleash some hurt on your opponent.
Pitching and batting all take place from the behind the plate perspective
THE GAMEPLAY: Normally with these kind of games the gameplay is rather bare bones and all pick-up-and-play, THE BIGS is no different in that regard. I felt right at home within minutes with the controls save for the always initially confusing base running. The title offers several modes, all with the depth and character as Keanu Reeves doing Shakespeare except for the compelling Rookie Challenge. In this mode you build a prospect from scratch, assign him some limited ability, and take to the minors to work on beefing up his ratings. This mode is akin to the 24/7 mode in NBA 2K7 and is quite fun.
Blue Castle also tossed in Home Run Pinball, a unique mini-game where you tee-off in downtown NY and earn points for taking out everything littering the city streets while the pitcher gradually throws more mixed pitches at you, this is mindless fun.
Standard games are stretched out over 5 innings though you can switch that to 9 if you’re a rawhide purest at heart. Much of the action in THE BIGS seems to be focused on the batting, you will see fly balls hit to the track in droves and you will see just as many fence-climbing catch attempts. Though the 5 innings may read like too little it isn’t. You will complete a game in about 20 minutes, perfect for quick gaming fixes.
Homerun Pinball rules. Just about everything seen here is hittable and breakable.
THE GRAPHICS: The stadiums all look very good, and there are some nice effects when you use your power-ups. The player models often look like their respective counterparts (best Jim Thome I’ve ever seen, he almost oozes hillbilly off of the screen when he steps into the box) though they have a somewhat doughy look to them. The framerate and camera angles are all spot-on as well.
Plays-at-the-plate are made all the more dramatic with a bullet-time buttonmashing fest to see who will win the most grand of jousts.
THE AMBIANCE: This is baseball, from the fans in the stands to the homer schlep in the booth you know you’re engaging in America’s pastime. Fan noise, ball-on-bat sounds, etc. are all what you’d expect in a game like this however the 2K beats soundtrack is awful. “Ace of Spades” by Motorhead in a baseball game? Lemmy and his facial tumors should not be involved with a title about baseball, period.
Fly-ball hit deep, he goes back, at the wall… Will you be Griffey or Canseco in the spotlight? You’ll have plently of chances to find out.
THE VERDICT: Blue Castle pulls off a… wait for it… homerun with THE BIGS. Though I can imagine a title like this losing much of it’s luster after a week or two the rather deep Rookie Challenge mode is enough to justify a purchase.
I can easily see this becoming a series that improves year after year. Not based off of what I see, but rather what I don’t. For as many opportunities as you get to rack up points there feels like there should be more like bonuses for back-to-back HR’s, home-run distance, and hits in clutch situations, expect to see things like this in future incarnations.
Still, as an initial offering you can’t go wrong with THE BIGS.
Photos courtesy of www.gamespot.com