Speed, power ups, turbo boosts, and pinball. Doesn't sound much like major league baseball, does it? Well, when it comes to 2K Sports' brand-new franchise The BIGS, everything you know and love about America's pastime is being celebrated…just in a completely different way than you've ever seen before. GotNext got a chance to chat with the developers of the game this week, a few days before it officially hits the streets on June 26th.
We know what you're thinking: "I played a game just like this before, called Slugfest." Before you dismiss The BIGS out of hand, though, consider what Blue Castle Games and 2K Sports General Manager Dan Brady said about that older arcade baseball title: "We don't like Slugfest". You won't find any sorts of crying pitchers, pointless brawls, or other decidedly unnecessary shenanigans in The BIGS. So there!
In reality, The BIGS is not just the opposite of Slugfest, but also of 2K Sports' other superb major league game MLB 2K7. You won't be knee-deep in a simulation-based affair measuring the most intricate details of hitting, pitching, and managing a nine-inning chess match (not that there's anything wrong with that). Games in The BIGS run around 15 minutes from start to finish, last 5 innings, feature all sorts of turbo boosts and power ups, and are presented in an over-the-top style built around fun, accessibility, and creativity. The recurring theme heard during the conference call was "heroic baseball" that dramatizes every moment - a celebration of big homers, blistering fastballs, and wall-climbing miracle catches that take place at the speed of light.
There's no traditional "season" for you to play through; rather, the main single-player mode focuses on a young player's quest to go from a green rookie to the MVP of the World Series. Along the way, all sorts of spring training minigames and in-season success will allow your created (and fully customizable) dude to build up attributes and establish of a cache of nifty accessories like sunglasses and tattoos.
While the lack of a standard 162-game campaign with stat-tracking and so on may seem sacrilegious to longtime sports gamers, The BIGS is definitely reaching out to a broader array of sports and gaming fans. In fact, the developers claim that there are no shared assets of any kind with MLB 2K7 - the game is built from the ground up, sports a brand new engine, and is completely written from scratch. Doing that has allowed them to create a different kind of baseball game that they feel (and hope) will allow a lot more folks to enjoy what it has to offer than perhaps the more intimidating fare of an in-depth statistical simulator.
Speaking of accessibility, the 2K Sports fellows seemed particularly excited about one of the minigame modes called "Home Run Pinball". Taking place in Times Square, New York City, it's a stand-alone game that features a lightning-fast batting practice scoring challenge. Between the flashing neon signs, exploding streetlights, and fiery, smoke-trailed baseballs, it looks to be one of those kinds of addictive asides that could wind up stealing many hours of time before you even realize it.
The BIGS is being released for virtually every platform - Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, PSP, and even the Wii. Each version will sport its own unique flavor, of course. The Xbox 360 version will support the uploading of Home Run Pinball scores and dozens of Achievements; the PS3 title will implement Sixaxis control features; the Wii game's controls will be based solely around its unique control scheme (even featuring "drumroll duels"); the PSP iteration will sport ad-hoc multiplayer. If you're a 360 owner who may be on the fence, a 3-inning demo will also be released soon in the Xbox Live Marketplace.
2K Sports has big plans for The BIGS as a franchise, as it could turn out to be a perfect annual complement to their MLB 2K games. It's just gone gold, and ships to retailers on June 25th. I'll be sure to let you know what I think of the final game shortly afterwards.