The Bigs 2 Review
So here I am, trying to setup my new audio setup with the supplied Optical Cable. The booklet that came with my Sony system is showing me a diagram telling me to route the cable from my TV's Optical Out, to any Optical channel on the audio unit. That doesn't work. So I decide to see if it'll work if it's routed from the PS3. Ah, voila! I'm all excited to see if I can hear a difference in quality between the HDMI setup to this Optical setup. So I figured, "well, I'm practically done with these hands-on previews, and I have a few reviews left to cover." MLB The Bigs 2 was first up on the list...and as soon as it boots up, I'm greeted with P.O.D.'s "Boom". Ugh. This isn't what I wanted to hear the moment I started the game.
Someone at 2K Sports and Blue Castle must've missed the memo that reads: "Most overused, overplayed songs in entertainment history that depict an extreme sport, action, and/or event: P.O.D's "Boom" and Saliva's "Click, Click, Boom." Seriously. Enough already. The songs absolutely suck. They've both been featured in countless games and adverts over the past seven years. Stop. I'll get to the remainder of the soundtrack later on. On to the gameplay...
The general basics of The Bigs 2 are much like the first game. And if you've never played the first game, then just picture a much more simplified game of baseball where precision isn't very important at all, but rather your swings are more based on luck and good timing. Yes, pitching your analog stick towards a certain diretion will influence the path of the ball, but otherwise, if you time your swing just right, you'll get a hit. And that's not a bad thing, because it's really the point of the game, and higher scores are encouraged here.
I do have a beef with the pitching mechanics, as loading the gauge and timing a release perfectly, or even well, is extremely difficult to do. More often than not, my release falls just below the line on the gauge, which, in turn, exposes me to a tip-off...and that can often lead to a massive hit or a homerun. When playing the field, there is a mini-game mechanic you can perform to make Legendary Catches. These catches are occasionally difficult to perform/react to when it's a fast moving ground ball, or a fast slicer that's just above your team's heads. When the ball is flying high and is close enough to the wall to be picked off, you'll see the X-button prompted below your player. Hitting the button engages a QTE mini-game where you'll need to complete a series of timed button presses (think God of War) in order to perform the catch. If you screw up, it's a homerun. I actually quite like the feature, even if it's a bit gimmicky.
The batting, like I explained, is more timing than precision and comes complete with very simple two swing types: power and contact. There is a point system that rewards plays based on their quality, so obviously the better you play, the more points you'll earn. These points will build up turbo, which then allows a team to gain momentum over their rivals -- the standard stuff, really. Some other standard stuff includes the Season mode, which many felt was needed in the first game. And Become a Legend mode is available, as well, for you to sink your teeth into, by creating a character to take through the ranks. The not so standard is the game's Home Run Pinball, which is a points based mini-game about how many illuminated signs and advertisements you can destroy with a hit in places like Tokyo, New York City, Las Vegas, and others. The game is actually quite a load of fun, and the online leaderboards are filled to the brim with thousands competing for first place.
Visually, The Bigs 2 isn't the most realistic representation of the MLB players, featuring exaggerated builds, but it does a decent job, overall, with smooth looking models and acceptable textures. The player faces look like their respective counterparts for the most part, but there quite a number of players that don't resemble themselves or just look downright zombie-ish. Stadium details are okay, and the crowds could really look better. The grass is fine, but at closer angles it can look odd and at times in need of a trimming. The animation isn't superb, since there is little-to-no motion capturing going on, so you're going to see all of the players share the same animation sequences all the time. At least the framerate is decent.
Now, back to the audio, the soundtrack consists of a mix of good, average, and terrible bands. The good stuff comes by way of Pantera, Fu Manchu, Korn, The Subways, and Disturbed. The terrible being Daughtry, P.O.D., and Red. Everything else I felt indifferent to. Onto the more important aspects of audio...the commentary is generic, as the game often refers to players by their position when you're fielding. The commentary also has a tendency to get repetitive after numerous plays. Miscellaneous effects such as hits, crashes, and such sound pretty good and punchy. But I do wish that the crowd was louder and more dynamic, they seem a bit bored.
The Bigs 2 is not what I'd call a bad game. For fans of arcade-sports games, they'll likely find enjoyment out of this title. For others that are looking for a bit more out of their money, may find themselves disappointed with The Bigs 2. It's not that the game isn't abundant with extras, it's fine in that regard. It's just that for $60, it'd have been nice to get a game with A.I. that doesn't rob you every chance it gets, a better pitching system, better visuals, and decent commentary. If you can find this one at half the cost, get it. But for $60, this one's hard to swallow.
8/13/2009 Arnold Katayev