|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Blue Castle Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: 2K Sports||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: July 8, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Tony Capri
2K Sports brings Major League baseball to gaming consoles once again, and all the latest, greatest names are on the roster of The Bigs 2. Does the next installment of this growing franchise make the MVP list, or should it be sent back to the Minors?
With its lingering legion of fans, it's nice to see the PS2 has not been forgotten. 2K Sports has seen fit to bring this latest trip to the ballpark to last generation's console champion, so let's have a look at what you can expect from this particular version of the game.
The Bigs 2 comes with a seemingly robust variety of options, but the main attraction certainly has to be the Legends Challenge. You begin your journey into the Majors by creating a rookie character - everything from skin tone and build, to various elements of your uniform can be customized - and as you play through challenges, you'll earn points you can then spend on performance stats, such as power, speed, etc.
Though your rookie (referred to throughout the game as "Rookie" by the game announcer) is the focus of the career mode, you'll take control of your entire team during actual play. Home games put you up at bat, while away games pit you first in the outfield. Regardless of which end of an inning you're playing, the view is always the same - seen from the catcher's angle. The perspective works well, though it also means less variety in terms of gameplay.
Regardless of whether you're pitching or hitting, your focus will be on a bounding box located above home plate. When pitching, you'll aim your pitches with the left analog stick and select from various types of pitches using the face buttons. In theory, this is a great system - simple and strategic. However, for whatever reason, the game will require you to hold the pitch position into place as you charge up your pitch, which forces you to concentrate on the wobbly motion of the pitching reticule, rather than the charge meter. To make matters worse, when you push one of the face buttons to charge your pitch, the aiming reticule disappears, though your pitch position is still reliant upon placement of the analog stick. Essentially, you're throwing blind for that second or so when making the wind-up. Not a great mechanic when so much is at stake.
In spite of this fairly major flaw, pitching can be quite satisfying. Each pitcher has a star rating for certain types of pitches, and likewise, each hitter has a star rating for power, connection, and speed. So, if you get a power hitter up to bat, you might want to opt for a curveball or slider, lest he connect with the heat and land one out of the ballpark. Conversely, if you're up against a hitter with high marks for connecting with the ball, you can opt for a fastball somewhere outside of his optimal range. Speed is the last major element you'll want to take into consideration when on the pitching mound, as the A.I. will attempt to steal bases when you least expect it. By holding the L1 button, you can send the ball to a base in an attempt to keep runners honest.
The Bigs 2 is full of such strategy, and it is, without a doubt, the game's best feature. Batting poses its own set of unique challenges, and it will often be in your best interest to have weaker hitters bunt a ball, or have your power hitters go for the long shot. A "turbo" mechanic adds an admittedly arcade feel to the game, but it's also another great strategic element that is fun to execute. Your performance during a game is rewarded with points, which in turn fills two gauges. The bottom gauge is your regular turbo, and you can utilize this extra power to speed up a runner, put power behind a hit, or enhance an outfielder's defensive-play abilities. The top bar, however, fills up slower, but once you unleash its power, it's devastating, guaranteeing a homerun for any hitter who connects with the ball.