Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Bigs

The Bigs' steroids-puffed players—they're all bulked, mind you, not just big boppers like Barry Bonds—might suggest that 2K Sports' brand-new complement to its MLB 2K7 is all mindless mighty clouts and andro-enhanced fastball. But here's the curveball: The Bigs is a startlingly cerebral affair.

The entire game is designed around turbo, which you'll earn during the pitcher/batter interface. (If the hurler tosses a called strike, he gets a boost; if he misses the strike zone, the batter does.) So you have to outplay and outsmart your opponents. Cunning use of turbo in key situations is a must. Trigger it to beat out a ground-ball base-hit, and you won't have it to execute an ankle-snapping take-out slide to break up a double play. Use it to make a laser throw from the warning track to third base, and you won't have it to toss a nearly unhittable curveball that buckles the batter's knees. The multiplayer cat-and-mouse game causes constant drama—nothing's worse than being in desperate need and finding your turbo tank empty, and since the game defaults to five innings, you can be on and off the diamond in 15 minutes with your nerves fully frayed, without any need for your daily dose of Brain Age.

Beyond the game: The excellent, time-killing "Homerun Pinball" mode lets you tee off in NYC's Times Square, where you'll take aim at everything from cab windshields to blinking signs.

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Worth playing for: Robbing homers by quickly entering a button sequence is thrilling, but plays at the plate that turn into Track & Field-style button-mashing competitions between the catcher and baserunner are sublime.

Frustration sets in when: The unintuitive baserunning will cost you plenty of extra bases, and the defense is often spotty—especially on tough-to-judge high-choppers.

Final judgment: NBA Street Homecourt set the next-gen standard for arcade sports games. The Bigs is just as fun, at least. It amps up all baseball's best bits in a hurried, joyous affair.

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