By Bryan Intihar 05/17/2007 One look at The Bigs' blistering fastballs, 'roided-up player models and gravity-defying wall grabs, and you might think that we've got another MLB Slugfest on our hands. Thankfully, that ain't the case with 2K's first arcade-based baseball entry. So don't expect to find any ridiculous antics like the BoSox's David "Big Papi" Ortiz catching on fire or the Yankees' Derek Jeter punching a baserunner's lights out after he reaches second. Now sure, The Bigs pushes the boundaries of realism (just as any quality arcade sports game should), but it doesn't toss out all the rules like Midway's franchise.
During a recent Sony press event, we got some hands-on time with this slugger on PS3. And even though our time was limited, The Bigs already feels like it's got the goods of a major leaguer. As you might expect, the controls have been simplified here, with batting duties being split between the X (contact swing) and Circle (power swing) buttons. Hurling from the mound also receives a nice twist, as the strength of each kind of pitch (fastball, slider, curveball, etc.) increases or decreases throughout the innings depending on your effectiveness. So if your opponent keeps rockin' Curt Schilling's heater, he'll eventually lose the ability to bring the gas and be stuck throwing his other pitches.
SCREENS: Click the image above to check out all The Bigs screens.
Performing well behind the plate or in the field also increases your turbo meter, which when maxed out gives you an extra edge (but not a guaranteed home run or strike out, which happens to be a nice change of pace for this style of game). While infield play remains relatively the same as the sim titles, at least those in the outfield receive one nifty new mechanic. Whenever a ball is hit close enough so you have a chance for a SportsCenter-worthy wall grab, you're treated to a God of War-esque quick-time event where pushing the correct button sequence equates into a catch. But here's the rub: The difficulty of the quick-time event is based upon the player's rating. So a guy like Manny Ramirez (who's better known for his bathroom habits in the outfield than his fielding ability) will have a much harder time than, say, a gold glover like the Twins' Torii Hunter.
Outside of the normal modes of play, The Bigs offers an entertaining minigame that's best characterized as "Home Run Derby meets Pinball." You'll find yourself up at the batter's box, with a pitcher and New York City's Times Square in the background. Everything in the environment -- taxi cabs, neon signs, even the New Year's Eve Ball -- can be smashed and earn you points. Visually, the setting is really impressive -- and the solid, addictive gameplay makes it even better.
Along with the PlayStation 3 version, The Bigs will land on Xbox 360, Wii, PS2, and PSP in June.