posted 7/24/2007 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: 360
I am not what you would call a traditional baseball fan. I root for my home team (the Seattle Mariners) when they are doing well and ignore them the rest of the time. It's not that I don't like baseball, but my interests are often pulled in other directions and I find that I don't have the time and energy needed to be a hardcore baseball fan. But despite my wishy-washy take on real baseball, I absolutely adore arcade-style baseball games.
Maybe it's the fast-paced action, the constant home runs or the way they loosely follow the rules of the sport, but I've always been a fan of arcade-y baseball games. While I can respect the depth that a traditional baseball simulator has, I find myself getting bored at the pacing long before the seventh inning stretch. Perhaps that's why I had such a good time with 2K Games' newest baseball game, The BIGS. With its huge characters, crazy plays and frenetic pace, The BIGS proves to be one of the most enjoyable baseball games I've played in a good long time.
While most baseball games are trying to be as realistic as possible, The BIGS focus is all about that visceral feeling you have when hit a massive home run. There is nothing complex and intimidating about this sports game, The BIGS feels like it was designed to attract everybody ... even those people who have never thought about playing a baseball game before. It's not especially deep and the single-player mode is a tad limited, but 2K Sports' newest baseball franchise is perfect for those of us who feel that the modern day simulators have become a bit too complex.
For the most part The BIGS uses the same set of rules that every other baseball game plays by. You play a nine inning game where the two teams take turn playing offense and defense. You can choose any one of the thirty MLB teams, each with their own set of well known players.   And you're rewarded for loading up the bases and hitting the ball out of the park. On paper this looks like your typical game of baseball.
What sets The BIGS apart from the rest of the crowd is its brisk pacing and focus on home runs and huge plays. In The BIGS you can play an entire nine inning game in five or ten minutes, it's the kind of game where you don't have to think too much about strategies and focus a lot of your time on your rosters. That's not to say that you can't bring some of your own strategies into the game, but The BIGS is to real baseball what speed dating is to a romantic night on the town.
You play The BIGS the same way you would any other baseball game. Pitching is boiled down to four different real-world pitches corresponding to one of the four face buttons on the Xbox 360's control. You use your left analog stick to aim in the strike zone and a golf-like swing meter that controls the accuracy and speed. If the player actually hits your pitch then it's up to you to field the ball and get it to the base as fast as possible. Like most baseball games, the bases are assigned to the different face buttons, so if you want to throw it to first base you would hit the B button, throwing it to second would be the Y button, and so on so forth.
Hitting the ball is also easy. Players have two different swings (a normal and power swing) and a button they can use to bunt the ball. Running the bases is as easy as pointing your analog stick in the direction of the base you're aiming for, and if you are afraid of being tagged out you can always slide by using the A button. For the most part this is all pretty standard stuff, quick and easy to learn and master.
Where The BIGS sets itself apart from the rest of the crowd is when you are introduced to the turbo meter. The BIGS gives you five turbo capsules to fill up and use at your discretion. Each time you throw a strike the turbo meter goes up, until ultimately you have all five of those capsules filled up and ready to use.
While the idea of turbo in a baseball game is far from innovative, The BIGS manages to do something original with it by making the turbo last for only one play. You can use it no matter what you're doing in the game, be it pitching, base running, fielding, or anything else. Since the turbo only lasts for one play you really have to figure out the most opportune time to use it. For example, you can use one of the turbo capsules to hit the ball a little further than you normally would, giving you enough time to easily make it to second (or even third). Or, as a fielder, you might use that short burst of turbo to get to the ball and throw that person out. You can even use the turbo one after another, so that you hit the ball farther and then run the bases faster. But remember, the turbo only lasts for one play so you have to use them wisely. The turbo adds a lot to the fast-paced nature of the game and it's fun to see how people combine the extra boost to make exciting plays you normally wouldn't be able to pull off.
Along with the turbo you also have a power meter that adds up as you strike people out, make huge plays, and load up the bases. When this power meter is filled up you are given one chance to use it to get an instant home run or an easy strike out. Unlike the turbo meter, the power meter will last more than one play. For example, if you're batting you can activate it (by pushing the two trigger buttons together) and use it the entire time that batter is at the plate. If you manage to hit the ball (no matter how lightly) you'll trigger a huge home run and neat looking animation. The batter and the pitcher can use it at the same time and trigger a duel, which comes with some great close-up graphics and an intense color scheme.
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