|System: Wii, X360, PS3, PS2, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Blue Castle Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: 2K Sports||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 25, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
May 14, 2007 - The sports genre has been an undeniable staple of the video game market ever since it's inception. However, some may charge that with each Madden 0X and MLB 2KX release, the genre seems to get weaker. Games run together and lose any distinctiveness that one would expect from a medium so conducive to serial upgrades. Publisher 2K Sports, most notable for the above mentioned MLB 2K series, has identified this problem and is offering a brand new take on the baseball genre. Their extremely promising ambition involves blending the tried and true baseball sim formula, while adding elements of arcade-style play. What this hybridization hopes to produce is an all-new videogame baseball experience.
It sounds like a tall order, but 2K Sports, paired with the Blue Castle Games development team have made several strides towards making this all-new experience a reality. The BIGS begins by placing you in the shoes of a user-generated up-and-coming baseball player trying to make it into the BIG leagues (get it?). You'll have to prove your above average skills before you'll be able to play with the real-life MLB teams and stars imported into the game. Then, once you "make it," it'll be up to you to make your team the best it can be. As you get better and better, you'll have access to special "power-ups" that'll strengthen your team even more. You'll also have access to special accessories for your character like exclusive bats, sunglasses, and other customizable options
In addition to all this special content, the main focus of this game is still baseball. Sure, the approach is different, but the creators really stress that this game is still, at it's heart, based on the gameplay and athleticism of baseball. Sure, the powerup system takes away from the "Realism" of the game (unless you count steroids as powerups), but what the developers and publishers are really aiming at is to immerse the gamer in the career world of Major League Baseball. And adding incentives is something that occurs in real-life, so that had to be translated to gaming somehow.
Another less-than-realistic feature is the turbo feature. When you have the turbo feature enabled, it adds another level of strategy by giving you a "turbo meter" which can up your gameplay considerably. You can use this turbo meter to make any of the plays you make that much more excellent. For example, if you're pitching a curveball and you enable the turbo function, you will instead have a better chance of pitching a no-hitter. If you're playing outfield and trying to catch a ball that might be just out of your reach, you'll have better odds of catching it. It sounds like a simple concept, but it adds a fair amount of strategy into the game. Players must identify their weakest areas and utilize the turbo to their full advantage.
Visually, the game looks on-par with this type of wide release, obsessively multiplatform type of game. The trailer footage looks like it could have been taken from either the PlayStation 2 or Wii gameplay, but I wouldn't be surprised if they all ended up identical in terms of visuals. It would be nice if there were a graphical upgrade made for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game, but there are no expectations or information on this end.
However there are some console-specific features. For example, the Wii version will utilize the motion sensing remote in conjunction with the Nunchuk to make plays. The Xbox 360 version will feature online support via Xbox Live. Sadly, the game will not be a part of the PlayStation Home service this year, but the creators have hinted that it may be a possibility in the future.
Overall, the BIGS looks like it aims to take the sports genre to a new level. Although some might criticize it for being "unrealistic" or unfaithful to the sport, I believe that the changes they've made are very positive, will create a brand-new gaming experience, and deliver something distinctive into a genre that could really benefit from a change in formula.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Freelance Writer