Review by the_Bored23

Reviewed: 08/27/07

2K steps up to the plate.

If you’re like me, you played Wii Sports baseball, and while it was fun for a little while, 3 inning games with limited features can only entertain for so long. As such, we waited for the Wii to get a new baseball game. And we wondered how a different developer would adapt baseball to the Wii’s controls. That wait is over.

The Bigs, while fully licensed by the MLB and its Player’s association, is not your standard baseball affair. Rather, 2K decided to lead off the Wii’s baseball lineup with an arcade style game, something like the games Midway made not all that long ago. Fireball pitches, outfielders with superhuman leaping abilities, and the obligatory meter which unleashes unstoppable force when full are all here. And they have added up to create a pretty solid game, if you ask me.

First and foremost, as with many Wii games, are the controls. The controls for The Bigs could be described as being a far more fleshed out set of the controls used for Wii Sports. In Wii Sports, pitching was done by simply holding a button and flicking the Wiimote. In The Bigs, the location of pitches is chosen by directing the cursor with the Nunchuck’s control stick. Once this is done, you point the Wiimote straight up, and choose from the 4 pitches each pitcher has. The pitches are thrown by holding down A, B, or a combination of the two, bringing the Wiimote down, and depending on the pitch, you’ll have to twist your arm in a given direction while doing so. For example, a fastball is thrown by simply holding A and bringing your arm down, while a sinker requires that you hold down A, B and twist your arm counter-clockwise. You must also let go of the button while in the sweet spot of the on-screen meter, or risk telling your opponent where it will be. It sounds tedious, but after enough games, it has become second nature to me.

Then comes the baserunning. This is the one facet of the game 2K seriously screwed up on. While other games have you rapidly tap a a button to speed up, The Bigs has you rapidly flick your Wiimote up and down, as if you were playing the drums. Indeed, it is a pain in the ass, or, more accurately, the wrist. Compounding the problem is the fact that sprinting to steal a base will force the batter to swing, rather than take the pitch. In addition, moving from base to base was also poorly done, occasionally resulting in an unexpected out.

Batting is far simpler, and won’t cause your wrist as much strain. You can simply swing, as in Wii Sports, if you’re looking for a single, but going deep requires a little more effort than that. The direction of your hits can be guided by holding the Nunchuck’s analog stick down while swinging, and if you hold down A, you will take a power swing. Performing the perfect swing, which will result in a long, fiery fly ball to the wall, soon became very easy. However, I soon learned that swinging for the fences every time is not the key to success. For one, many of the leagues players simply don’t have enough power to hit homers. Secondly, 2K thought it would be cool if outfielders could jump 20 feet in to the air. In parks with low walls, this means they can at least knock down home runs, if not catch them for a boatload of points.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering what these points have to do gameplay. Well, remember that meter which unleashes unstoppable force I mentioned earlier? That takes 100,000 points to fill up. Wall catches are worth 20,000, strikeouts are good for 7,500 and Homeruns will net you 30,000. If you fill the so called “Big Play Meter” and use it on the mound, all your pitches become perfect pitches for that at-bat. Curveballs drop several feet out of the sky, fastballs top 100 MPH, and sliders are darn near unhittable. As to provide more incentive to use your big play meter on the mound, you steal a certain amount of points from your opponent’s meter for every strike you get. When used while batting, for one at-bat, any pitch you can make contact with is an automatic homerun, often resulting in damage to the scoreboard.
The main “meat” of The Bigs is found not in Exhibition mode, but Rookie Challenge. In this mode, you create a rookie, choose his team, and go through his rookie season completing challenges with the ultimate goal of winning World Series MVP. If you plan on creating yourself, think again. Sadly, the options for your rookie’s face are extremely limited, and the options for hair are even more so. You can edit your rookie’s equipment, size, and number, but a team made up of you and your friends will likely look exactly the same.

After creating the rookie which looks nothing like you, Rookie Challenge sends you off to spring training. Here, you compete in little mini-games and challenges, s to get some stats before embarking on the regular season. Luckily, 2K opted against a 162 game season. The regular season starts off by giving you 2 cities in which to play. You must complete all 3 challenges in a city before new ones will appear. The first 2 challenges involve tasks which range from hitting 2 home runs in a game, to striking out 7 batters in a game. The final challenge in a city is always the player steal game, a 5 inning game, which, if you win, allows you to take a player from your opponent’s team. In your home city, you can often find training mini-games to play, the same ones from spring training but harder.

As you compete in challenges, you earn points based your performance, and you can use these points to upgrade your stats, with a max of 5 stars in each of your 5 tools. The vast majority of your points will come from training, as hundreds of thousands of points can be amassed in these sessions, opposed to the thousand or so you might get from a game.

As you progress through Rookie Challenge, you will eventually be able to edit your attitude. “Attitude” consists of three things: Your nickname, which is chosen off a list, the song which plays when you get up to the plate, which is chosen out of the game’s licensed soundtrack, and the design of your bat. Bat designs range from one with snakes spiraling around it, to several based off the flags of countries. After completing 7 player steal games, your rookie heads off to San-Francisco, site of this year’s All-Star game. Here, you can compete in the home-run derby, and the All-Star game itself. I really don’t know why 2K decided to make it a full 9- inning game, as finishing a 20-3 game can seem tedious. Rookie challenge might not last as long as the franchise mode found in other baseball games, and it might be done using a player which bears no resemblance to you, but it is quite fun, and will last you a decent amount of time.

Rounding out the other modes of The Bigs are the game’s tutorial, and the aforementioned home-run derby, which sadly can only be played in San-Francisco. Unfortunately for us Wii owners, 2K, for whatever reason, didn’t add the home-run pinball mode in the Nintendo version of the game. If you weren’t keeping up with the game’s previews, you won’t know that it was there, but I was sorely disappointed that I couldn’t take batting practice in Times Square.

The Bigs differs from other baseball games in that it offers four player multiplayer, as opposed to just two. While hitting, the two players for a team will alternate at-bats, and out in the field, they alternate pitching, while the other player plays the field. Home-run derby is also multiplayer, but it is only two player.

All in all, The Bigs offers a solid baseball experience, albeit not one without flaws. Rather than confuse you with numbers and ratings, I’ll just say this. If you’re a baseball fan, you’ll like this game. If you don’t care for baseball, the game may bore you after a couple hours.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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