The real joy of The BIGS comes in how unrealistic everything is. At first the game looks like any other baseball game, but watch as you hit a ball at the first baseman and have it bounce off his head only to be caught by the second baseman. Watch as your outfielder is able to leap 25 feet into the air to catch what surely would be a home run. Watch as you slide into second and connect with the other team only to send them spiraling into the air. There are so many moments where you won't believe what just happened, you'll just sit there stunned and want to see it over and over and over again. It will only take a few innings before you see why The BIGS is different from all of those other sports simulators.
Unfortunately The BIGS does suffer from a few major gameplay hiccups. While the pitching and hitting is easy to pull off, the game falls apart when you have to field the ball. Like most baseball games, The BIGS will automatically select the player it thinks you should use to field the ball, but since the ball moves so fast the computer tends to give you control over the wrong person. That's not to say that you can't field the ball with that person (or even switch to another player), but by the time you've actually reached the ball you've give up an extra base to the other team. This is especially frustrating during those close games where a simple mistake could be the difference between winning and losing. As you play through the game you'll start to understand how the fielding works and make it work for you, but it's never as good as it should be. This is one of those problems 2K Sports will hopefully resolve by the time they enter their second year.
Also worth mentioning (although less pressing) is the difficulty in stealing bases. At no point in this game does it explain how to steal a base, not in the on-screen instructions and not in the instruction manual. You can look it up in the controls menu, but even then it's kind of vague and hard to decipher. To steal a base you actually have to push multiple buttons at the same time, while also pointing at a specific location ... all while you're trying to bat the ball. Thankfully these gameplay quirks don't ruin what is otherwise an exciting game of baseball.
For whatever reason The BIGS does not have a full season mode, so don't go into this game expecting to play through a full 162 game season. Instead you get the Rookie Challenge, which is a mode where you create your own character, insert him into a pre-existing team, and then go through a faux-season trying to take your major league team to the World Series. While this may not be the same as simulating a full 162 game season, it is a fairly interesting substitute that takes a lot of the tedium out of the normal sports campaign.
What's cool about the Rookie Challenge is that you aren't just playing a bunch of nine inning games; instead you are giving different tasks and scenarios. For a lot of the time you'll be playing five inning games, which is nice and short (and will only take you a few minutes to complete). As you progress you will be asked to play these games while making your rookie perform certain tasks. For example, they will want you to play a five inning game and have your rookie score three RBIs or hit two home runs. Some tasks will involve you stepping in late in the game and coming back from behind. You will also have the reverse scenario, where it will be late in the game and you'll be up by one run and need to keep the other team from scoring.
When you aren't playing against other teams you will be spending your time training in a bunch of mini-games. You'll have to run an obstacle course, hit a certain amount of points in a batting challenge, and field a lot of balls in a defensive challenge. Eventually these mini-games turn into one-on-one competitions between you and some of the best players in the major league.
While The BIGS does not attempt to simulate the entire season, it does take you through most of the major events of a ball club. You'll start out at spring training, hit the All-Star game, and eventually make your way to the playoffs. Unfortunately by the time you get the playoffs you will realize that you've already seen and done most of what this game has to offer. Thankfully the gameplay is exciting enough to hold your interest through some long and grueling games. All in all there's a lot of diversity, but this single player experience is a bit on the shallow side and may get old before you finally win the World Series.
Like most sports games, The BIGS is a better multiplayer game than it is a single player experience. The game supports up to four players at once, two on each team. You can also play with your friends (and strangers) online if you can't find anybody to pick up your second controller. Unfortunately some online problems (such as lag and the occasional dropped games) plague the Xbox Live experience. One can only hope that this is resolved so that those of us who love playing against other people will be able to do so without worry of our game freezing in the third inning.
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