With sports games it's a constant struggle to innovate on a yearly basis. You hear it all the time from those who pick up Madden or NBA Live every year and are disappointed by the familiarity of the product. With The Bigs, 2K Sports seems to be going with a two-year development cycle which, you'd assume, would afford them plenty of time to add cool, new features and gameplay mechanics. While that is true on PS3 and Xbox 360, the same cannot be said on PS2. That's not to say that The Bigs 2 doesn't present a solid game of arcade baseball, but those who dropped their cash on the first game should let this one pass by.
The basics have unsurprisingly stayed the same. You still pitch by holding the appropriate button, charge a meter and release the button at the appropriate time. You still have the big heat ability while on the mound (provided you've maxed out your points) and big blast while at the plate. Unlike the console versions, though, there are no legendary abilities on the PS2. Instead you'll see the same star ratings that were in the last version of The Bigs.
Really the only change that has been made to the core gameplay is the addition of the wheelhouse. The wheelhouse is a power zone for hitters that can be diminished if pitchers can sneak the ball by. You'll also get a significant turbo boost for venturing into the zone. Still, that isn't enough to truly change the game in a substantial way. I would have liked to see improvements made to the fielding mechanic as it's still a little too difficult to make your way under a routine fly ball and throwing to a base seemed sluggish at times. Again, none of these refinements are present. Baserunning can also be problematic. I found rounding bases to be an annoyance. All too often my player would hold at a base even though I was clearly telling him to make a mad dash elsewhere.
Sadly, there are no legendary catches, no legendary abilities and no new mini-games to be had. Not only that, but there's also no Big Slam ability present on PS2. Again, this all leads up to my main point that not enough has been added to warrant the sticker price on The Bigs 2.
The Rookie Challenge that was in the first Bigs has been renamed Legend Challenge but that's really the only change that has been made. Sure, this time you'll have the opportunity to eventually take on legendary baseball players but the structure of the mode hasn't budged an inch and feels almost identical to the previous rendition. You still earn experience points which you can assign to your player's attributes and you'll still need to complete a number of challenges to play different teams and move locations on the map.
Another of my biggest issues with The Bigs 2 is the total lack of online play. The first Bigs at least had ad hoc play. Not ideal by any means, but it was something. The Bigs 2 has nothing in the way of online support which is a massive letdown.
The visuals have stayed largely the same from last year. Everything looks decent for a PS2 game, but nothing has improved all that much from last year. The big blast and turbo effects are still a little cheesy being that they're only color filters placed over the screen. The slowdown that hurt the first Bigs has also been remedied for the most part.
The audio performs well enough, though comments are regurgitated fairly often and are never very specific to what's happening on the field. Sound effects are solid with nice bat cracks and sounds on the field. The overall audio package hasn't changed much from last year, but it's still serviceable this time around.
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