The BIGS 2 Review for PlayStation 2 (PS2)

The BIGS 2 Review for PlayStation 2 (PS2)

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

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?

The BIGS 2 screenshot

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.

The BIGS 2 screenshot

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 screenshot

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.

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.

The BIGS 2 screenshot

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.

Character animations look good and work well toward making this a convincing game of baseball. Shimmer, ultra-bland textures, and lifeless facial expressions, on the other hand, do little to enhance the experience. 3.0 Control
There are significant flaws with the controls – especially when it comes to pitching – though they’re not impossible to overcome in single-player. Multiplayer, however, is a no-go. 3.4 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The announcer does a fine job of adding a traditional feel to the game, though his lines get a tad repetitive. The in-game sounds and tunes get the job done, but the menu music is simply atrocious. 3.4 Play Value
In spite of some major-league issues, the single-player package is compelling; it’s also very approachable, though explanations of various gameplay elements could be clearer. The multiplayer, however, is a bust. 3.3 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Epic Arcade Baseball Action: Larger-than-life gameplay, stadiums and player models provide a truly heroic baseball experience.
  • Batter ‘s Wheelhouse: Pitches thrown into the Batter’s Wheelhouse are more likely to be launched into the next time zone, but sneaking a pitch past the hitter will shrink his wheelhouse for the rest of the game. Do you have the guts to pitch into the Batter’s Wheelhouse?
  • Legend Challenge: Unique story mode allows users to pit their created player against MLB legends past and present as they strive for a World Series™ championship and MVP trophy.

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