The BIGS 2

Two Times the BIGness

The BIGS 2 arrives deeper, more varied and, yes, more entertaining than the already awesome original.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: August 14, 2009
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I suck at sports games. No, wait, scratch that. I am a massive, all-consuming vortex of suck, completely unable to do even the most simple tasks or properly analyze a game that most players will have no issues with. Thus, I hate most sports games (roommates absolutely destroying me in games they've played for years probably doesn't help this), but there's one very important caveat: I rock when those sports games are turned into simple, over-the-top arcade versions of themselves. NBA Jam, NBA Street, NFL Blitz... for some reason I'm infinitely better at them than the "real" thing, and I'm okay with that.

The problem is, the XTREEM take on sports games is all but dead now; Midway is bankrupt and the Blitz franchise is a shell of its former self, EA has killed their NBA and NFL Street games (either officially or by way of what they've become) and there's hardly anything else on the horizon that promises to be accessible, light-hearted and interesting enough for me to get excited about -- except when it comes to The BIGS 2. The original BIGS was an incredibly pleasant surprise, easing the act of fielding and making both batting and pitching simple enough that I actually felt like I could do both without turning into a complete moron. Better still, the one-off Homerun Pinball mode was so relentlessly addictive that I spent more time with it than the rest of the "proper" games combined.

It shouldn't come as a huge surprise, then, that I was overjoyed when our copies of the sequel finally showed up, and after far more time than I probably should have spent on the game, I can happily say that it does its predecessor one better in every possible way; it's prettier (even on the PSP, which is surprisingly complete), deeper, offers more moves, more variety, better online play and, best of all, expands on Homerun Pinball with new maps and some seriously awesome Big Hit moments.

The bulk of the game's single-player offerings come from the new Become a Legend mode, where you start as an injured player in Mexico struggling to recover and rejoin the big leagues. Though the mode is fairly similar on the PSP and PS3, the former takes the original game's Rookie Challenge tack of using points to power-up your player rather than the next-gen version's discipline-specific challenges. Both handle it by way of simple little mini-games like running an on-field obstacle course, hitting as many balls with contact swings or launching long balls with power swings, but in general the PSP version feels like less of an upgrade over the previous incarnation.

After graduating from Mexico (at least on the PS3 version; the PSP one has you jumping right in) and picking a team, you're essentially tasked with playing a handful of games, some that offer specific challenges in addition to winning a la Sony's MLB: The Show series. Normally, though, you'll play just five innings of a game and enjoy a handful of mini-games while fielding balls. Players that have "Legendary" status skills can perform utterly ridiculous catches by playing a quick mini-game (everything from tapping all the buttons that appear in the column to hitting a timed series of presses to keeping a meter balanced), thus soaring a few stories into the air and robbing a would-be homer of its destination over the wall. Runners trying to challenge the catcher at home plate with also have to content with a button mashing mini-game where moving the needle to the proper side will result the charging runner either barreling through the catcher or meeting a brick wall.

The addition of these mini-games, and their variety gives The BIGS 2 exactly what the original needed, adding in little flourishes that turn the incredibly quick innings into something a little more than racing to pick up hits that slip through the holes and keeping the intense, over-the-top feel of things in full effect. There's no shortage of slo-mo throws, hits and pitches, but it's still nice to have more flair packed into things, and it definitely serves to make the game even more stylish than before.
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