Developer: Hothead Games
Price: Free
Version: 3.2
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

IMG_0410Oh baseball, how we have missed you so. With the kick-off of a new season comes the inevitable licensed titles hoping to cash in on the sudden influx of attention. One such title is Hothead’s most recent permutation of their Big Win sports brand, Big Win MLB. Does the franchise’s core mechanics make a seamless transition to the diamond, or should it have remained confined to the gridiron, hardwood and rink?

Looking back through the prior entries in the Big Win series, it is hard to neglect that there was a previous entry entitled Big Win Baseball. For all intents and purposes this is virtually the exact same game as Big Win MLB, minus the Major League Baseball licensing and familiar player likenesses. For the uninitiated, the player is cast in the role of general manager of a baseball team, with the express purpose of improving the squad’s performance. This is attained through the acquisition of new personnel and effective use of power-ups.

Following the model established by previous iterations in the franchise, players, power-ups, and stat enhancements are all acquired through purchasing packs of cards. Depending upon the quality of the pack purchased (and amount of in-game currency spent), aspiring managers can expect to receive a more talented breed of player or enhancement. The trick becomes spending the coinage in the wisest way possible, without dipping into a real-life wallet.

IMG_0416Though these aspects to the game’s design are understandable, there is still no way for the player to interact with a game in progress. All that can be done during an actual game is passively watch from the dugout, while praying to whatever deity will provide the most beneficial outcome. Rubbing in the lack of interaction a little further is the necessity to wait ten minutes to earn the right to take to the diamond again, once a day’s initial batch of ten games have been exhausted.

For all of the odd choices that continue to be made in the Big Win Sports series, including the decision to blatantly re-skin their existing baseball title, Big Win MLB still has a core nugget of micromanagement that should appeal to fantasy baseball fanatics. It is far from the end-all, be-all, but it certainly has more than enough free gameplay options to validate a small cross-section of the Major League Baseball audience.

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