The Bigs (PSP) Review
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This is one of the better sports titles to grace any handheld in quite some time. If you are a sports fan or baseball fan and have a PSP, this game is great! Even those who dislike simulation sports may enjoy this experience.
- Good, arcadey controls.
- Animations and plays create excitement.
- Easy pickup game or deep simulation game with extra features.
- No cut-off button.
- Lopsided experience gains in Rookie mode.
- Baseball realists may not like the over-the-top showboating.
Roaring fans, incredible plays, smashing hits…of course we’re talking about baseball, America’s past time. Although the illustrious sport may have fallen to the wayside as far as recent projects are concerned, 2K Sports’ newest title, The Bigs, aims to bring baseball back into the spotlight.
The first thing veteran sports gamers will notice about The Bigs is that it is not your typical sports simulation game. The mechanics are largely unchanged, but innovative systems (such as the addition of a turbo button) make this a whole new ballgame. Also, the create a rookie mode adds new depth to a genre that has been relying too heavily on unchanging franchise modes. Finally, this is NOT your father's baseball game. Collisions do occur in The Bigs, and when two moving bodies meet each other at high velocity, involuntary wincing often follows. The hits in this game are brutal.
Let’s talk controls for a moment. After the mention of a turbo button, some of you may be thinking “Why the hell did they bring that back? It removes skill from the game!” I’m here to tell you that’s just not true this time ‘round. The turbo meter in The Bigs is masterfully done, and adequately rewards players for making skilled plays. Turbo is not some unending, constantly refilling meter. In The Bigs, players only fill their turbo bar when they complete major plays, or prove that they have a good eye in the batters box or on the mound. Fake out a batter with a nasty changeup? Get a little bonus to your turbo meter. Keep yourself from swinging at that low and away fastball? Fill up your meter just a little bit more. Field that laser straight infield shot and make the double play? Watch as your meter jumps!
These are all scenarios you will experience in every game you play. Turbo can be used at any time for numerous effects, such as increases to running speed, throw or pitch speed, and batting power just to name a few. The turbo meter consists of 5 cells. When turbo is activated, these cells drain depending on how long the button is held. A minimum of 1 cell is always deducted. Players must have at least 1 full cell to engage turbo mode.
Beyond the game's turbo mode, the controls are very similar to most of the other MLB titles from recent years. Pitches are handled with a charge meter and pitches correspond to unique buttons. Fielding is done with the control stick, and each button is associated with a base to throw to. Batting involves guessing the location of the pitch, and swinging with a power swing or contact swing button. The franchise does differ in one more way, however. When attempting to make that big play, be it a diving or jumping catch, turning a double or triple play, robbing the batter of a homer, or even charging down the third base line against a catcher, players must overcome an additional challenge. As their player attempts to make the play in question, a series of buttons appears on the screen. If the sequence is completed in a timely fashion, the play is made. Failure usually involves dropping the ball, taking a line drive to the face, or being trampled by an angry runner.
A few other unique handling abilities are present in The Bigs. If a team hits well, they can fill a bar which allows a “POWER BLAST” to be activated. When used, this turns the current batter into a home run hitting machine. Any hit will soar into the stratosphere to spark off the foul pole, or break the scoreboard. Either result constitutes a home run. Interesting mechanics also provide an extra challenge to pitchers. Their pitches are listed on screen, accompanied by colored bars. The color and length of the bar indicates how well that pitch has performed during the game. If performance for a particular pitch is sufficiently poor, the pitcher may actually lose access to the pitch if opposing players continue to hit it.
Although The Bigs has done fairly well with its control scheme, I did feel that one aspect was missing. The game designers did not create a “cut-off” button. Thus, if you throw the ball towards a ... (continued on next page)
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