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Video Game Review: Head to the Majors With Fun ‘The Bigs 2’

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CHICAGO – Would you rather watch the fine detail of a pitcher’s duel (or a gem-for-the-ages like Mark Buerhle’s recent perfect game for the Chicago White Sox) or the fireworks of an event like home run derby? “The Bigs 2” is far more akin to the latter - a display of the “fun” of baseball that plays much more like an arcade experience than a sports simulation and should appeal more to fans of the long ball than the slider.

HollywoodChicago.com Video Game Rating: 4.0/5.0
Video Game Rating: 4.0/5.0

Baseball games have moved much closer to the simulation game in the last few years, going for realism over fun with titles like “MLB 09: The Show” and “MLB 2K9”. Both of those game offer detailed franchise experiences that attempt to recreate the fine detail of America’s pastime.

The Bigs 2
The Bigs 2
Photo credit: Take 2 Interactive

“The Bigs 2” is far less concerned with detail. This is a title where fielders regularly jump dozens of feet in the air to make amazing catches and players rack up points with each hit or play to try and hit a “Big Blast” or throw some “Big Heat”. It is an addictive and incredibly fun title that forsakes realism in the name of having a good time.

The Bigs 2
The Bigs 2
Photo credit: Take 2 Interactive

With some vast improvements over the first release including a new & improved story mode, a season mode, mini-games, and Home Run Pinball, “The Bigs 2” delivers exactly what a big sports sequel should - it takes what works about the first title and expands on it. It’s almost too easy to write, but “The Bigs 2” is definitely bigger.

The highlight of “The Bigs 2” is the “Become a Legend” mode, a premise similar to but far better than the “Rookie Challenge” from the first game. You create a very customizable player who needs to make his way back to the major leagues. You start in the Mexican league, working on your skills and then moving back to the team of your choice in the majors. (B. Tallerico plays Shortstop for the Cubs with Theriot moving to 2B in my “Legend” experience.)

Your “Bigs 2” alter ego has to play through several, standard 5-inning games in cities around the world (including a trip to Japan) along with in-game challenges. For example, not only will you have to beat the San Diego Padres, but your player will have to throw out a baserunner in that game before you can move on. Some of the requirements can be a bit annoying - baseball, even an arcade version, is still a team sport and it can be frustrating to win a game by 8 runs but not have the ‘X’ RBIs by your individual player to win the challenge.

The Bigs 2
The Bigs 2
Photo credit: Take 2 Interactive

As much as I enjoyed the “Become a Legend” mode, I recognize that it’s not really the strength of the title. This is an arcade game and, as such, it’s meant to be played in brief installments, usually with a friend. The actual exhibition gameplay is enjoyable, well-designed, and varied. The entire game experience has several mini-games within it. For example, to execute a tough catch, you’ll have to hit a series of buttons or time the release of one. It’s a clever gameplay design that keeps each at-bat fresh.

As for pitching, the mechanics are simple and easy to get used to, even if they are a bit too imprecise. Each batter has a wheelhouse, their “hot spot” in the strike zone, although if you time your pitch right, you’ll actually be rewarded with extra “turbo” by throwing a strike within it. If a batter hits your pitch too often, you’ll lose it. Throw a fastball that’s turned into a home run and you won’t be able to throw a fastball again (at least without turbo). It adds a bit of strategy to the arcade experience. Go after a big batter in his wheelhouse and get a greater reward by taking a greater risk.

The most annoying element of “The Bigs 2” is the most “arcade-esque”. Players rack up points for accomplishments - a single is 7,500, a double is 10,000, etc. - and when they get to 100,000 and the line-up is just right, they can use the “Big Slam”. With four swings, you can load the bases and hit a grand slam. And guess what? If you’re the pitcher, you’re pretty much just out of luck. You throw the first pitch, but the next three are automatic and it’s a shame there’s no way combat a chance for your opponent to land four runs.

The Bigs 2
The Bigs 2
Photo credit: Take 2 Interactive

As for gameplay, there’s a bit too much repetition to the batting. I’ve hit the same foul ball down the third base line a hundred times. There should be more variety to all of the graphics including hits, plays in the infield, and ridiculous, climbing-the-wall catches in the outfield. Kosuke Fukodome will pull off more impressive, game-saving grabs in one game than he actually does in an entire season.

But, of course, “big play repetition” is the point of a fun-driven title like “The Bigs 2”. And the game is, ultimately, undeniably fun. With a wide variety of gameplay, you’ll be playing with your friends for hours. Only when you look deeply or experience the same gameplay over and over again does the title start to get frustrating. Ultimately, fans of the original or arcades sports games in general will have very little to complain about with this explosive, enjoyable title.

‘The Bigs 2’ was released by Take 2 Interactive and developed by Blue Castle Games. It is rated E (Everyone). The version reviewed was for the PS3 but the title is also available for the Xbox 360, Wii, DS, PC, and PS2. It was released on July 7th, 2009.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

AldenJ's picture

I am a big fan of baseball.

I am a big fan of baseball. That is why I am glad to hear that Pete Rose is under consideration to be reinstated to Major League Baseball. Pete Rose was busted for gambling on games, though he never bet against his team, and agreed to completely withdraw from baseball voluntarily, reaching an agreement to do so with then MLB Commissioner Bart Giamatti. Incumbent Commissioner Bud Selig has reportedly been seriously considering reinstating Rose so that he may be submitted for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. None other deserves it as much – Rose held a batting average of .300 every year he played, and is one of the only two members of the 4,000 hits club. (The other is Ty Cobb.)

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