The BIGS 2 Conference Call Recap

Posted June 26th, 2009 at 8:48 am


Yesterday I had the opportunity to sit in on a conference call with The BIGS 2 producer Rob Nelson along with being able to send in a few questions beforehand. Given that the original BIGS remains one of my favorite sports games this generation and with the demo out and well received I’m really looking forward to it. What I was most hoping to get out of the call was an idea of additional elements of strategy and details on the online co-op mode.

Given how well The BIGS was received it was discussed how they worked on the game and what their goals were with it. While they’ve attempted to improve on everything and provide a new experience they wanted to keep the core feeling familiar. So the controls are largely the same which means people don’t have to learn the game again. The BIGS series is all about accentuating the big moments and was likened to watching a highlight reel but at the same time it remains grounded in the sport.

That is the thing about The BIGS… it plays a good game of baseball. It was tongue in cheek when I said it two years ago but in many ways it is actually more sim than 2K’s sim franchise. There are the over the top moments but there is still a great deal of baseball strategy involved. It looks like that will be the case yet again. For The BIGS 2 even the player models have been scaled back a bit in order to provide a somewhat more realistic feel.

I really like the sound of the power-up system. Certain MLB players will have power-ups which were given to them based on their real life play. Some examples are Derek Jeter receiving an attribute boost when his team is losing, David Ortiz hitting home runs that can’t be robbed, and Joe Mauer providing an attribute boost to his pitchers. This adds another element of strategy by utilizing or attempting to avoid players in certain situations as well as in the career mode offering another consideration for what player to “steal”.

The career mode has been improved and expanded on. Even though it was relatively thin and at sometimes frustrating based on the specific tasks in the original it was genuinely fun. Maybe most because as you progressed you opened up new accessories and customization for your player.  This time around instead of just one year it is the full career. The storyline is that your guy from The BIGS suffered a catostrophic injury and has been sent to the Mexican league to rehabilitate. He has to work his way back up to the majors. There will be more variation in the challenges and more customization options such as home run celebrations, walk-ups, stances, tattoos, bats, and other accessories. Again this mode is only done as a position player, a career can’t be done as a pitcher.

Added this year due to popular demand is a 162 game season mode. Now I’m not sure how many people playing The BIGS have the patience to run through a full season. However it will be a streamlined mode in that outside of trades there isn’t much else to worry about. Don’t have to deal with injuries or contracts.

Along with the season mode there are a couple other additions that help to separate this offering from the original. The legendary ratings for fielders and the “wheelhouse”. Both of these contribute to new strategy. You’ll want to avoid hitting towards those legendary fielders for sure. With the “wheelhouse” a batter will be more successful in that zone but there is incentive for pitchers to challenge them. If they get it by them in the “wheelhouse” there is a larger turbo increase.

There are several new mini-games and all can be played cooperatively offline. Those include games for speed, fielding, and contact hitting. Of course the Home Run Pinball is back with a few new venues. That also can be played co-op now both offline and online.

Though it didn’t seem to get credit for it anywhere but on my site, the co-op online play was really enjoyable and smartly done. The two users alternate from inning to inning as the pitcher or first fielder and then alternate at the plate when batting. It didn’t work exactly as advertised though since there was only two users vs the CPU. This time around they say it will be either the two vs CPU or two users against two users.

In other online news the lobby system was worked on after it had been deemed too confusing. It should be much simpler to create and challenge in the different online modes. There is also more stat tracking being done and there will be roster updates.

After playing the demo there is little doubt that The BIGS 2 will be better than the original. Outside of the closer camera which a lot of people including myself dislike, the game has added new strategical elements and expanded on the modes being offered. However it won’t be a surprise this time and the low expectations of the first is part of why everyone liked it so much. So it’ll be interesting to see if it feels like it provides the same or more value. Regardless after two terrible 2K baseball offerings earlier this year The BIGS 2 looks like it will deliver.