|Developer: Blue Castle Games||Publisher: 2K Sports|
|Release Date: June 25, 2007||Also On: PS2, PS3, Wii and Xbox 360|
Baseball, America’s sport. Boy how things have changed in just the past quarter century. While the MLB is still followed by millions of fans and ranks behind only football in the ratings, the video games have always played second fiddle to the grid iron. The exclusivity that 2K Sports sought out with the MLB license was not for America’s biggest pastime, it was for America’s second favorite pastime. Apparently 2K Sports wants to make the best of the license that they can.
The whole idea behind The Bigs is to pay homage to the sport while at the same time extending its accessibility beyond the typical (and shrinking) baseball fan base. While the game may be categorized as an arcade game, 2K Sports insists that they don’t bend the rules of baseball. As they put it, it is just dramatization. “We don’t like SlugFest … We think it turned it (baseball) into a laughing stock … SlugFest was not baseball,” a member of The Bigs development team said.
In development for the past 20 months, The Bigs doesn’t share any assets from MLB 2K7. The game is bigger and faster than other baseball games on the market with a turbo and power-up system. Using reference data from previous 2K Sports baseball titles for ballparks, developers intentionally tried to exaggerate the unique features of each park. It is not just the stadiums. It is also the players, who will be more muscular than usual. Can Big Papi really get that much bigger though? I guess you will have to wait until the game gets released to find out.
There won’t be a season mode in the game. Instead, you start as a rookie and make your way into The Bigs. Go through spring training by playing mini-games, get points and apply attributes that you earn. The goal of the mode is to go from a rookie and become a star, winning MVP of the World Series. The mini-games that they include are based off of three different mechanics of baseball: fielding, running (an obstacle course) and batting (getting the bat on ball and hitting homeruns).
The gameplay and controls are meant to be accessible. The control scheme on the Wii version, as you can imagine, is the major differentiation between other versions. You can flick the controller to dive or jump, and motion controls for batting and pitching. They also give you the option of using the d-pad to throw. Both offline and online play will allow between one and four players (the Wii version, however, will not include online play this year).
During the conference call that I took, the developers made the point of saying that The Bigs was a different game from MLB 2K7 “We’re different from music on the front end to graphics on the back end.” You can see for yourself next week with the Xbox Live demo that will hit Marketplace. For everyone else, The Bigs comes out June 25, 2007. By the time the majority of people read this preview, it will likely already be in stores. Look out for our review in the near future.