This summer, gamers will have the chance to grab 2K's second iteration of its arcade baseball title, The Bigs. The sequel has been getting some media attention as of late, so here is how it is doing so far.
More "The Bigs"
2K’s first attempt at arcade baseball flew under the radar for many sports gamers -- for valid reasons. It was a summer release that was competing with the football juggernauts. And, while it was fun to play, a lack of modes made it feel relatively shallow. It also probably did not help that arcade baseball games seem to be a niche genre that is actually flooded with titles: Power Pros, Backyard Baseball, various DS and Wii exclusives, etc.
In any case, if you played The Bigs, you may have realized that it was a pretty polished, strategic and fun baseball game. It simply needed more modes, options and reasons to come back and play again. The Bigs 2 seems to be an extension of the first game, with an added full-length season mode, expanded career mode and some new mechanics that heighten the strategic elements.
Additionally, it still looks like the game contains the same great graphics and stellar presentation that were present in the first version. Even better, the player models look a little more toned down and less roidirific.
The players look a bit less roided, perhaps they learned their lesson?
This new mechanic adds depth to the process of creating your lineup and selecting players for your team. Essentially, players will get a boost depending on the situation and who is on their team.
For example, certain fielders may give a fielding or throwing boost to nearby player, while other players may "protect" an adjacent batter in the lineup by increasing that player's hitting ability. It has also been reported that Derek Jeter -- known for his "clutchness" -- will have better stats when his team is trailing.
These dynamic ratings will make you carefully choose where to position players in the field and in the lineup. I think this is a great complement to the already established five-star rating system, which is already perfectly suited for this type of game. In fact, look for certain players to earn a sixth "legendary" star in a specific category.
Speaking of legends, The Bigs 2 contains a number of them. Expect to see some of your favorite historical players serving as "bosses" in the career mode. Within the career mode itself, you will be trying to best the competition while rising through the ranks by completing mini-games and specific challenges.
Here are some legendary players that have been confirmed at this point: Ryne Sandberg, Brooks Robinson, Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson. Certainly they represent a good mix of glove, speed and power from multiple eras.
It wouldn't be a 2K baseball game without Pepsi. The locales look good.
Home Run Pinball
Look, I am not unhappy that this highly marketed mode is still included; it just did not do much for me the first time around, so I am really lukewarm about its inclusion here.
If you are one of the gamers who spent time with this mode the first time around, you will be excited for the new set of locales (other than Times Square). For me, it just was not and will not be where I want to spend my time.
The limited number of quick-time events in the first game worked well and were seamlessly incorporated in the core gameplay. But, now that I have read that the career mode will be filled with many more mini-games and button-pressing events, I worry that the focus will shift away from baseball and will instead shift towards "MLB Mario Party."
It remains to be seen if the various mini-games will fit together to make a singular experience that still feels like the original national pastime.
The BIGS certainly has some flair.
Finally, I hope that this game is a bit more accessible for the pick-up-and-play types because I would really like to see it become a regular -- if not annual -- series.
I remember playing the last version with my brother-in-law, an avid baseball fan and gamer. His first impression was not good; he did not like -- or maybe get -- the turbo system, thought the quick-time events felt cheap and struggled with some of the controls. Granted, baseball games are notorious for being a learned experience so I guess The Bigs was no exception. After all, compared to hockey or football, there are usually many more controls to keep track of during a baseball gaming session.
But an arcade baseball game should have some level of "jump in" ability. It does not need to be a watered-down kids affair, but I do not think it needs to be as intimidating for the uninitiated as MLB 2K or The Show. Perhaps a scalable control-set could ease in the new players.
Does it seem like I am nitpicking the "What’s Not?" category? Well, that is probably because I am. While information has been rather limited, everything I have read to this point has shown me that this should be a good game when it releases this summer.