|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|
Game modes in TB2 are varied. Most players will likely want to try their hand at the Become a Legend mode. Similar to last year's Rookie Challenge, this serves as the game's career mode for single-player action. Starting out in the Mexican league after a near career-ending injury, players will have to complete challenges and improve their skills via mini-games in order to rise up the baseball food chain, eventually becoming a legendary player. Become a Legend provides hours of complex fun for individuals, though it does get quite tedious and repetitive after awhile (what baseball career mode doesn't?).
In addition to Become a Legend, players can also join up with friends (or play against the A.I.) in several other game options, which are little more than slight variations on the standard baseball format. This is one of the areas where the game really shines. The arcade nature of the title makes sharing the experience with friends truly compelling. There are also a host of mini-games that help you hone your skills. My two favorites were the power and contact challenges, as they not only helped my skill set, but they were both challenging and addictive. The glove and speed mini-games, on the other hand, are more of a chore than enjoyable. The wildly successful Home Run Pinball is back this year, but it has been expanded to include a couple more venues for your enjoyment. If you haven't played the original, Home Run Pinball simply has you select a hitter and try to take out lighted targets (and groups of targets) in order to accrue points and set high scores. As was the case last year, this game mode is a real highlight for the title.
Last and probably least is that of online play. It's nice that you can take the experience online to play in relatively lag-free ranked and player matches, but the experience is far more absorbing with a friend on the couch. Due to the game's arcade elements, human players aren't any better than the A.I. on a high difficulty setting - essentially, playing online is the same as challenging the computer. This game is best when played with a friend at home, because jawing is where it's at! Still, if you demand a quality online experience, The Bigs 2 offers one that's fairly barebones yet should still satisfy you.
On the presentation front, the graphics are quite solid in terms of facial and stadium detail, where the game slips up in the visual department concerns player animations. For starters, there are a very limited number of swing, pitch, and celebration animations. This also holds true for ball flight paths. Perhaps most disconcerting was that of fielding animations - players regularly contort and glitch as they throw the ball. Aurally, the commentary is quite funny and professional yet extremely repetitive. What really dogs this title's sounds, however, are the highly obtrusive 2K Beats - the music is a collection of grating, heavy pop-rock - I've heard alley cats get it on with more harmony!
The Bigs 2 is a solid baseball arcade title that should scratch the summer itch. Though the game does feel a bit unpolished and unbalanced, there's still a lot to enjoy. This franchise has a ton of potential, and we'll be interested to see how it evolves in the coming years.
CCC Editor / News Director