October 15, 2008

Play Ball!

It's October, and that means the best-of-the-best in baseball action. The playoffs are heating up and the World Series is around the corner. If that doesn't rev you up for baseball gaming, then nothing will.

First up is the XBLA's MLB Stickball, this one got up to the plate, scratched, then promptly struck out after looking pretty at the plate. Rest assured PS3 owner's, you're not missing a thing. And 360 owners, don't even bother with the trial version. This one looks good, and has promise, but it's boring as all get out and very repetitive. You're better off with The Bigs.

If you're looking to score a cheap baseball game that you can toss aside after the World Series. Your best bet is The Bigs. The focus of the game is on you, not player rosters, so playing a game that's a few years old doesn't matter much.

The Bigs is what baseball would be like if all players were juiced up and the baseballs were loaded with pyrotechnics. Career mode starts you off with a Rookie player. You build up attributes, including tattoos, customized bats, shades, your own theme song, etc. You play through spring training, perform training games, and then play through the season, which ultimately places you in the World Series.

The game is fast-paced as compared to the relatively slow-paced nature of baseball. It has special effects, like flames coming off the ball when you connect for a homer. And there are mini-games that slow the action down for catching balls heading over the fence or when you're bearing down on home plate for a collision with the catcher. These features make the game fun to play. 

The training scenarios are fun as well. Batting practice is the best, it allows you to tee off on the pitching coach. The fielding scenarios let you dive for grounders that look out of reach, but because you're such a phenom, it's no problem reaching the ball. The only training scenario that needs help is the running game. The running scenario has you run an obstacle course that's more frustrating than enjoyable. An excellent improvement is to replace the obstacle course with stealing bases. You can steal bases in the game, so why not practice for it?

The difficulty levels in The Bigs need fine tuning. The easy level is far too easy and allows you to run up the score; on the other hand, the harder levels have the opposing team running the score up on you. Fortunately, you can change the difficulty level midway through a game. So, if you're crushing, or getting crushed, you can change the tide of the game by changing the difficulty level.

For the PSP crowd, here's a review of MLB 2008: The Show from Thoughts of a Random Gamer.