We get an extended look at the Xbox 360 version of 2K Sports' upcoming arcade baseball game.
In 2K Sports' upcoming baseball game, The BIGS, everything is exaggerated for effect. The stadiums, while accurate to their real-world configurations, have embellishments such as larger landmarks and slightly different background layouts to create environments that have a distinctly larger-than-life quality to them. The players, too, are similarly buffed up; for example, cover star Albert Pujols is big in real life, but he's a monster in the game. It's all part of 2K Sports and development studio Blue Castle Games' approach to creating an arcade baseball game that's over the top while still staying true to America's pastime. We had a chance to get some time with a work-in-progress build of the Xbox 360 version of the game, and frankly, we're itching to play more.
Instead of "arcade" baseball game, producers behind The BIGS like to refer to it as a "heroic" baseball game--a term that emphasizes the stars of the sport and the big-play nature inherent in the game. As they put it, the goal is to make every play in The BIGS feel like something you'd see on a SportsCenter highlight reel. And while that goal, naturally, is impossible (you're going to foul the ball off sometimes, and not every routine grounder to the pitcher is going to be thrilling), there's no denying that the game has frequent moments of action that are unlike any other baseball game out there. And, unlike the longer, more drawn-out matches in a typical baseball game, the five-inning matchups in The BIGS were intentionally designed to help you quickly get through a game and move on (think 20 minutes for an average game length).
The essential pitching/batting duel is where The BIGS' unique gameplay elements start. Batting is handled with the A or B button, with the latter controlling your power swing. You can also move the left analog stick to "guide" the ball either left, right, up, or down; your player will twist his body accordingly to set himself up for the pitch. When at the mound, you'll have access to a number of pitches assigned to each of the face buttons (though, if you stink it up, your pitch arsenal will gradually decrease). To pitch, you press and hold the appropriate pitch button; as you hold down the button, a vertical pitching meter above the strike zone fills up (similar to the service/volley meter in the Top Spin tennis series). There's a line near the top of the meter, and you must stop the meter from filling above that line in order to toss an effective pitch. If you let go of the button below that line, the batter will get an icon showing the pitch location. If you top out the meter perfectly (like an ace serve in Top Spin), you'll get a blistering pitch that's a good deal more effective than your typical toss. Each pitch you make will affect your pitcher's confidence in that pitch--throw strikes and it will increase, but a batter putting the hurt on you will decrease your confidence. If your confidence meter bottoms out, that pitch will be removed from your pitcher's arsenal completely. At that point, you might think about warming up some relievers.
If you've played a baseball game before, fielding in The BIGS will feel similar, though there are some tweaks to the setup that keep it feeling fresh. You move your player with the analog stick and can take control of another player by pressing the left trigger. Throwing to different bases is handled with the face buttons. The A button acts as an all-purpose action button of sorts; when chasing down a fly ball, you can attempt a diving catch by pressing the A button. When approaching the wall, you can make a dramatic wall leap by pressing the A button, as well--here, a minigame pops up showing a sequence of buttons you have to press to make the catch, and the better your player's fielding rating is, the fewer buttons you'll have to go through to make the play. We tried the system once with the Chicago Cubs' Alfonso Soriano and completely screwed up the five-button sequence. Of course, rather than blaming ourselves for the gaffe, we blame Soriano, his cruddy fielding rating, and the Tribune Company for paying his salary.
Other minigames include running into other players to break up a double play (also controlled with the A button) and a fun button-mashing contest when rounding third and looking to knock the ball out of a catcher's hands. As you head for home, a meter pops up; whoever can press the A button quickest will win the matchup. Beyond some over-the-top animations for things like fielding (and the occasional trail of flames emanating from the ball during a hot pitch), so far this sounds like a fairly straightforward implementation of arcade baseball. However, the introduction of two meters--turbo and big play--adds depth and a whole lot of fun to the overall package. To explain the various aspects of the two meters, let's return back to the pitcher/batter duel.
Put simply, earning turbo is simply a matter of success. When at bat, you want to get hits, home runs, and RBIs; even smaller victories like taking balls and avoiding strikeouts will earn you small jumps on the turbo meter. On the mound, throwing consecutive strikes, earning outs, and getting those all-important Ks will fill up your turbo meter. Each player's turbo meter consists of "cells," and you can earn a maximum of five cells, which can be used at practically any point in the game, whether at bat, on the pitching mound, running the bases, or in the field. To use turbo, you simply pull the right trigger.
Whenever the pitcher or batter engages turbo, the screen changes slightly in hue and lighting, putting the focus squarely on the pitcher and hitter. For the batter, engaging turbo will force the pitcher's icon to stay visible and locked within the strike zone. It won't necessarily result in a guaranteed hit or home run, but odds are definitely in the batter's favor. If the pitcher uses the turbo, the pitches he throws are greatly enhanced--fastballs are faster, curves have a wicked break, and changeups, well, they're more infuriating than ever. Should both the pitcher and the batter engage turbo at the same time, both players will gain their respective benefit--batters will have a pitch locked into the strike zone, while pitchers will get much more effective pitches. When running, turbo will give you extra speed to chase down a fly ball or grab a stolen base.
its a kick to hear people say this is a disgrace to all baseball sims. they specificaly said this is over-blown and over the top. not a sim!!! its an exaggeration of the sport. heres a hint if you dont like the idea then stick with mlb 2k what ever the hell come out with and dont buy this one instead of making everyone listen to you cry about it not being enough of a sim.
im lookin foward to this, the games are short, and im lookin foward to hittin some bombs with the big sluggers, but i just can't wait to play that minigame where you break everything in site in NY now thats freakin awesome
I guess now that they have zero competition due to the license buy out, they can proceed to rip-off MLB SlugFest. And with a lame name like "The BIGS," wtf is that?
aside from the 5 inning game, this looks fun. i guess theyre just trying to appeal to this generation. where everyone seems to have attention defi... whos going to see transformers?
I wish they would make a 2k baseball game that utilized classic teams...kinda like a playable 'Baseball Mogul'....you could have a 'FIXED' mode where everything takes place as it did in real History and all you did was manage and play, or a 'FANTASY' mode that would obviously allow you to alter things.....it would sell a lot more than this.
sim baseball game are kinda boring. And they take to damn long to finish... I am definetly looking forward to this game...
Baseball games are floundering; the last baseball game I played and enjoyed was Super Mario baseball. Speaking of which, this game looks pretty freaking awesome...
I don't know, the five inning thing seems kind of lame. I traded in mlb 2k7 for c&c3 and I kind of regret it...
Hmm, looks like I'll have to rent this badboy. I'm generally a fan of simulation sports games only, but an arcade game could be a nice change of pace :)
- Release Date: Jun 25, 2007 (US)
- ESRB: ETitles rated E (Everyone) have content that may be suitable for ages 6 and older.