The Bigs 2 Review

With baseball games it's always feast or famine, or famine or feast, depending on which side of the arcade vs. sim divide you prefer to reside. The Bigs 2 may appear to be trying to strike a balance between the two with its modeling of each MLB player's stats and hitting hot zones, but this is a game that is thoroughly arcade all the way.

First let's talk mechanics, and with a baseball game that always starts with the pitcher vs. batter duel. The batter controls are simple - you have a button for each of three types of swings, contact, power, and bunt, and you can direct your swing to an area of the strike zone with the left stick. Pitching controls are correspondingly simple. You select the desired pitch location with the left stick, one of the pitcher's four pitch types with one of the face buttons, and then hold the pitch button down. As you hold the button down a meter will quickly fill and drain, and the object is to release the button when the meter is 100% full. Nail the 100% mark and you'll fire off a powerful pitch, miss it by a little and your pitch will still make its way to your targeted spot, but if the meter is below the minimum mark, a marker will appear letting the batter know exactly where the pitch is going.

Each batter has his own hot zone within the strike zone called the wheelhouse. When a batter swings at a pitch in his wheelhouse he has a higher chance of hitting it, and when he does hit it he'll hit it with some extra power. So why would a pitcher ever thrown the ball into a batter's wheelhouse? If a pitcher manages to slip a pitch passed a batter through his wheelhouse, then the pitcher gains some turbo power and the batter will have the size of his wheelhouse reduced.

Pitcher fatigue is handled in an unusual manner for a baseball game. Rather than having an overall fatigue level, the strength of each of a pitcher's four pitches is tracked separately. As batters hit a particular pitch its effectiveness is reduced. If the effectiveness drops to zero or a batter gets a big hit off of a pitch, the pitch is no longer available. Pitchers will be able to record some strikeouts in the game, but in The Bigs 2 the advantage falls firmly to the hitter.

The Bigs 2 is all about big hits and will have nothing to do with small ball. Walks are a decided rarity and the game thinks that it's so unlikely that you'll try to make a sacrifice bunt that it doesn't even display the bunt button on screen with the contact and power buttons. Why sacrifice when you have a pretty decent chance of knocking the ball into the gaps or over the wall? And runs come in batches of 5, 6, 7, or more, so what's the point of playing for one? Games routinely end with both teams in the double digits, and The Bigs 2 likes to play three and five inning games. Doubles and triples are routine hits and fielders are slow and take horrible angles on the ball. If it weren't for the fact that the base-running AI in the game is so wonky, teams would routinely score into the twenties.

Another thing keeping the scores, ahem, down, is the "legendary" fielding feature. With a burst of the turbo button players can make lightning fast throws or diving catches, but if a fielder is rated highly enough some fielding opportunities will cause an A-button icon to appear. Press the button at the right moment and you'll initiate a quick button-pushing, timing-based mini game. Win the mini game and the player will make a "legendary catch", rewarding you with bonus turbo and a nice point boost.