Review by GBPackersfan89

Reviewed: 07/02/07 | Updated: 07/03/07

Finally, something else for your baseball fix.

Three months into the 2007 Major League Baseball season, and yet there was no official baseball game for the Nintendo Wii. A sad event indeed.

Alas, the wait for a licensed MLB game has come to an end, thanks to The BIGS. Though not a simulation, it offers a much needed alternative to the limited Wii Sports-rendition of baseball, and does so quite well.

-~-~GRAPHICS~-~-

The graphics are nothing revolutionary, but they are certainly eye-catching. The player models are spot on for the most part, looking eerily similar to their real-life counterparts, albeit a bit beefier to put an exclamation point on the arcade style. The game's stadiums are very well done, replicating all in meticulous detail and vibrant color. The player animations do run into the occasional snag, with clunkiness being a problem. This is usually only limited to fielders near one another, though, and isn't enough to detract from the game in any significant way.

-~-~SOUND~-~-

Spot on. That's really all there is to say about it. From the crack of the bat on a Ryan Howard homer and the resulting cheers from the home crowd to the whiff of the bat from a Pat Burrell swing-and-a-miss and the ensuing collective sighs from the audience, this game has the sound effects down. The crowds, the umpires, and the PA announcer are all well done, adding to the ambiance of a baseball stadium. San Francisco sports radio host Damon Bruce does a solid job of announcing the game, conducting what's to be expected from a modern sports game.

The game also features a very nice soundtrack, including personal favorites Primus and Stone Temple Pilots. The songs do get predictably repetitive, however, and that's where a custom soundtrack would have fit in quite nicely.

-~-~GAMEPLAY~-~-

Obviously, this is where the Wii version of The BIGS separates itself from its other versions.

Swinging the remote like a baseball bat is an obvious concept, and the developers do a decent job of pulling it off. Using the nunchuck, you can tilt forward, to the sides, or back, assisting you on where you want to hit the ball. I say assisting as timing and pitch location plays a heavier role in this.

The game is not 100% accurate at picking up player movements, therefore there is a tiny bit of lag in the swing. This problem can be remedied by simply swinging earlier, though I will admit that is still a bit of a detraction from the game. Of course, you can choose not to go all out like I do, as a simple flick of the wrist will also swing the bat. This can save you the player some energy, but where's the fun in that?

The game also picks up how powerful a swing is. Going all out on a swing will put a noticeable boost of power on a ball hit into play, greatly helping your odds of nailing that sought after home run. Idle bat motions are picked up quite well. Standing at the plate, one can waggle the remote a la Gary Sheffield and notice the on screen player performing the same movement, a nice touch to the game.

Pitching is executed very well. The player uses the control stick on the nunchuck to select where they want to throw the pitch. This is followed by the player flicking the remote up (simulating the pitcher's wind-up) and then by flicking the remote down. Tilting the remote on the way down (combined with a button press) is what taps into a hurler's arsenal of pitches. For instance, holding down A and tilting the remote clockwise during your "downswing" will produce a slider. This does a very effective job at simulating the grip on the baseball when pitching.

The fielding is easily the game's biggest flaw, becoming very frustrating at times to the point where one must take a break as to avoid throwing the remote through the television. Far too often, a seemingly easy throw from shortstop to first for an out will turn into a throw from shortstop to second base to first for an infield single. Not only are unintended throws a problem, but the game gives you very little time to react to a ball hit into play. When you do react, forgetting to hold down A to dive for an out-of-reach ball will result in your fielder sliding into the dirt.

Baserunning is done quite intuitively. In order to sprint, the player must drum the remote continuously. Though knowing which baserunner you're controlling is a little tough at first, it's quickly learned with practice. Collisions at home plate add a small competition between the runner and catcher to see who can drum the remote the fastest.

-~-~REPLAY VALUE~-~-

The game is shallow on the modes it offers. Exhibition, Rookie Challenge, and Home Run Derby are it. Exhibition is simply that, a single game between any two teams in any stadium. Home Run Derby is a simple mini game that pits two players against each other, seeing who can hit 10 homers first.

Rookie Challenge offers the bulk of the game. You create your own player and place him on the team of your choice. From there, you take him through a season in Major League Baseball, from Spring Training to the World Series. Along the way you partake in a number of different challenges, such as simply beating a team in a game, racking up a number of hits with your rookie, or participating in some batting practice. You also get some interesting rewards, such as bat decals and the option to steal a player from another team. All in all, it's a fun little mode that offers about 15-20 hours of gameplay.

The good news is that the game supports up to four players on one console in any mode (though limited to two in Rookie Challenge). If playing with two people on the same team, you alternate batting with guys in the lineup. The bad news is that the game does not support online play, greatly hindering the game's replay value. But for a baseball junkie such as myself, countless hours of playtime can be logged away.

-~-~CONCLUSION~-~-

Overall, the game offers a well executed, fast-paced alternative to the slower, in-depth simulations that most sports fans are accustomed to. And for Wii owners, it's pretty much all that's available right now. Though not perfection, it is clearly a very promising example of where the intuitiveness of the Wii console can be taken. Simply put, it is an entertaining game for all ages, and helps fill the void of sports titles on the Wii console.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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