|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|
Unfortunately, the pitcher isn't the only position that suffers from less-than-stellar mechanics, and though the game of baseball can be really exciting at times in The Bigs 2, the experience always feels like it's missing something. You can aim your hits while up at bat, but without an indicator, it's akin to nudging in a game of pinball, which is to say there's plenty of guesswork. Additionally, player control when working the outfield is clunky and somewhat unresponsive, and the A.I. doesn't always do the greatest job of choosing the closest player to retrieve the ball.
In addition to playing straight-up baseball, the career mode presents you with a host of other challenges, ranging from batting practice to running obstacle courses. It's here where you'll earn the bulk of your skill points, and many of the challenges make for a nice diversion from the main game. The requirements for successfully completing some of these challenges can be quite steep, but they're designed to prepare you for "The Show."
Rounding out the package are four multiplayer options, though they likely could have been rolled into two. Topping the bill is Play Ball, which is your typical quick-play option; you and up to three other players can hop onto opposing teams for a quick five innings. Next is Exhibition, and it's more of the same, though you're afforded the option of choosing your starting pitcher and batting line-up, as well as the stadium you'll be playing in and whether it's day or night. The last option is Pick-up, and again, it's just straight-up baseball, with the catch being you take turns beforehand picking players for your roster.
Unfortunately, though there are ample options to choose from, the basic multiplayer game is virtually broken. In Legends Challenge (single-player), your pitching reticule only disappears for a second when charging your pitch; in multiplayer, it disappears completely after moving the analog stick. Pitching in multiplayer is pure luck of the draw.
The only multiplayer option that sets itself apart at all is the Home Run Derby. Players simply lob as many balls out of the park as they can; the first player to reach 10 homeruns wins. It's a fun option for a short burst of multiplayer batting practice, but it's little more than a single mini-game.
Keeping in mind we're reviewing a PS2 game, The Bigs 2 has a lot going for it. Though the crowds are static and the ballparks themselves lack detail, the player animations look really good, mimicking some of the typical behavior we've become accustomed to seeing in professional baseball. As is the case with many games on this system, however, there's ample shimmer and screen-tearing. The 2K logo also makes far too many appearances throughout innings, but overall, it's an exciting game of ball on this aging console. The announcer does a great job, though certain lines are repeated excessively. The music, on the other hand, is a grotesque mishmash of lame heavy metal and grunge that sounds and feels completely out of place with this good 'ole American pastime.
If you're looking to hook up with a few friends for some solid multiplayer baseball, this isn't the game for you. You might be able to muddle through poor mechanics, but why would you want to when there are better options out there? On the other hand, at $20, The Bigs 2 offers a solid though flawed single-player experience that will be especially appealing to players with a more strategic gaming bent.
CCC Freelance Writer