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 PSP. 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 PSP. 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. Again, there are none to be found. Baserunning can also be problematic. I found rounding bases, namely third to home, to be an annoyance. All too often my player would hold at third even though I was clearly telling him to make a mad dash for the plate.
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 PSP. 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 ad hoc or online support which is a massive letdown.
Thankfully the visuals have been pumped up just a bit since last year's game. Players look sharper than they did the first time around and feature none of the wireframe issues that we saw on the Wii version. 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 sound is just as solid as you remember and has actually seen a slight improvement in UMD load times. Commentary keeps up with the on-field action better than before but the comments aren't super-insightful as to who's doing what on the field. The soundtrack is serviceable – featuring plenty of rock tunes from yesteryear.
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