With MLB The Show taking top honors as the baseball game to play a few years back, it took some changes to the formula to make a new game stand out, and The Bigs did just that when it was released in 2007. Rather than force people to play through the same exact game just with a different coat of paint, 2K Sports added an arcade twist to the sport and really did themselves a favor. With heavily stylized stadiums that are based on their real-world counterparts with exaggerated features and players who can crank out massive hits and perform spectacular catches, The Bigs made the game world a little brighter for fans of faster-paced baseball titles.
Two years later, the first update to the game makes it way to gamers in the form of The Bigs 2. Still heavily arcade influenced — which shouldn’t surprise anyone — it works very well. But the changes made to this version were somewhat few, though the addition of a Season Mode really should help round out the gameplay for people clamoring for a new game.
The Rookie Challenge from the original The Bigs is gone in favor of a “rebranded” version called Become A Legend. In this mode, you take control of a seasoned player who, due to an injury, has started his rehab playing in Mexican leagues. As you complete challenges and mini-games, you move back to the big leagues and proceed to do the same thing across America. Venture back to Mexico and head to Japan to help round out your skills, and you may eventually find yourself in the Hall of Fame. The oddly entertaining Home Run Pinball mode is back in full effect, with not one but four locations for you to destroy with your skills. And as mentioned, a new Season Mode is here in which you can take a team on a standard-length trek through the American or National League. While not as deep of a season as some may want, the option to take a team through all the games is sure to keep stat junkies happy.
The always-beneficial turbo is back in The Bigs 2, and that’s earned by making big plays, getting hits and throwing strikes though the strike zone. Bonus turbo can also be awarded for making a batter whiff when the ball goes through his wheelhouse, or hot zone. Points are awarded in addition to the turbo, and once you reach certain plateaus, you can unlock Big Heat (killer pitches) or Big Slams (pretty much guaranteed homerun if you can make contact with the ball). A Big Slam is also available, which essentially loads up your bases and then gets you a grand slam — again, providing you have the skill to make contact with the ball.
The visuals for The Bigs 2 are fairly decent, but I did notice some rough jagged edges on the PS3 version (compared to the demo on XBL). The players are not perfectly rendered, as it’s not a simulation, so there are some allowances made to meld the players into the arcade style of the game. The hyperactive stadiums and pinball venues are a joy to look at, however, so the knocks on the graphics aren’t as bad as they might sound. The sound, however, leaves a lot to be desired. I will give props for using a Japanese announcer for the Home Run Pinball in Shibuya, but otherwise the voice work is a little “too arcade,” if that makes sense. The musical selections are OK but nothing stellar, with bands ranging from POD to Soul Coughing, but nothing really to get excited about.
Again, in a game like this the multiplayer is where the bulk of your time will be spent, but to be honest, it’s going to be a lot more fun if you have someone locally to play with. Why people feel the need to quit out of games as soon as they start losing is beyond me. Even if I’m getting pummeled 10-1 in the second inning, I am going to stick it out and take that loss and maybe learn a thing or two. But to quit is poor sportsmanship, and I really wish developers would add in some punishment or crippling to quitters. At the very least, include the quits as a statistic so I can choose if I want to even start a game with that poor sport. At best, make it a three strikes policy: if they quit three times, make it impossible for them to outside of pulling a plug. Then publicly flag (or flog) them.
Overall, The Bigs 2 is a very enjoyable arcade style romp on the diamond. Not as heavily arcade=based as the still-awesome Baseball Simulator 1.000, but just enough to keep the game pace moving and interesting with the plethora of button-press mini-games that come up during the course of a match.
- Score: 8
- Enjoyable arcade-style baseball that is just deep enough to keep you interested and not overwhelmed in the minutia of management.
— Jeff Paramchuk