With MLB license firmly in hand, 2K Sports has done something that was needed a long time ago: take a step back and make video game baseball fun again. Sim games are great for the die-hard fan that geeks out over stats and super-realistic player movements, but what is there for the rest of us? What about those of us that want to stroll out, pick up a bat, and belt one over left center field while the crowd roars? 2K heard us calling and did something about it.
The Bigs is a total departure from recent, formulaic baseball games. With its over-the-top characters and presentation, 2k combines its own flawless gameplay and mechanics with EA Big’s style of presentation and personality. Innovation here isn’t uncomparable to other baseball titles, but it’s certainly unmatched. From the get go, The Bigs has a variety of modes to keep you busy. From the standard-fare career mode called Rookie Challenge, to a straight up Exhibition game, you’ll be sure to get your standard baseball fix. Also making an appearance are Homerun Derby and a unique Homerun Pinball mode. The Bigs also has an online multiplayer mode.
The mode you will spend most of your time in is Rookie Challenge. Rookie creation is simple and quick: you can use a standard premade model, but if you’re meticulous, you can change your player’s build; skin tone; hair color; etc. After you pick your team and position and tweak your uniform, it’s off to the Bigs. Before you go, you’ll want to spend your available stat points wisely, because it’s difficult to earn more stat points. To improve, your rookie has to make some great defensive stops in the field and hits at bat. Even if you win the game, if your rookie doesn’t play well, he doesn’t get any extra stat points. You have a chance to improve before the season starts, during a 5-inning game and some training mini-games. After his training is complete, you must improve him during and between season games. During the season, you’ll have multiple options for where you’d like to go and who you’d like to play. Continuing to beat teams and complete mini-games opens up more and more options to play and helps you improve your rookie.
While Rookie mode is the bread and butter of The Bigs, you can’t ignore Homerun Derby or Pinball. Homerun Derby pits you against another player, or the cpu, in a race to 10 homeruns. Homerun Derby is best served as a competitive mini-game with your friends; you won’t play it alone more than a few times. Pinball on the other hand is an absolute blast to play. After selecting your batter of choice, you are engaged in a full scale pinball game set in Times Square in NYC. Much like standard pinball, you have 3 balls to get the maximum score. Missing a pitch loses a ball, but as long as you keep hitting, you are still in the game. Smashing the Square’s signs and lights runs up your score. I personally had a lot of fun playing pinball in The Bigs, but there is a slight learning curve to being able to hit pitch after pitch. Both Homerun Derby and Pinball are nice add-ons to an already stellar game.
While The Bigs is very easy to pick up and play, it is quite a complex game. Pitching is as simple as aiming the cursor, holding down a button for your selected pitch type and releasing as close to the top of the meter as possible. Perfect pitches have a little bit of extra sauce on them. Batting entails a simple contact swing or a power swing. Using your left joystick you can aim where you’d like the ball to go. No cursor is used for this part of the game, so you’ll have to experiment. One problem is that fielding can be a bit cumbersome as the game auto-selects your player based on the ball’s path, and it can be tough to assess where you are going and where the ball is in a split second. However, as you play more and become more familiar with the system, this aspect of the game gets easier.
The Bigs has some cool features for batters and pitchersA