The Nintendo Wii and American Baseball collide again in the return of The Bigs series in its follow up sequel - The Bigs 2. For a NZ audience the prospect of a baseball sports title probably isn't the most interesting game to most, though there seems to be a lot of baseball played on Sky’s ESPN. So perhaps the popularity of the US of A’s longest running sport is more significant in New Zealand than we give it credit for.
At first glance The Bigs 2 looks like a tried and true sports sim with the usual staples: exhibition mode, team rosters, season mode, create a player and various mini games. Expectations were rather high from the game's previous outing with The Bigs. The folks at 2K Games could essentially build on the previous formula to create a more immersive sports title this time round.
Sadly, however, at times The Bigs 2 feels like it’s a step back in design and gameplay. Graphics and sound in The Bigs 2 can look and sound a little Gamecube-ish, with the athlete’s virtual counterparts looking a little jaggy and not realistic at all. Having said this, it’s important to note its $50 price tag. On the other hand, a good number of Xbox Live and Playstation Network titles can be found for a fraction of the price, yet still have more polish than The Bigs 2.
Gameplay-wise, with the Wii remote and Nunchuck, batting feels flawless, with the notable ability to be able to direct your hits either left or right (for hitting the ball around the corners of the park), or up and under for the all-important home run. The pitching is a completely different story: in The Bigs 2 it's more complicated than its predecessor. Instead of motioning and holding a button when pitching; to deliver a curveball, fastball or change-up like in The Bigs, it’s a case of selecting a pitch and then making a generic pitching motion. This kind of takes the realism out of pitching and the game suffers due to this. It also favors the batter quite considerably - you’ll find yourself pitching poorly and getting involved in numerous slugfests. Effectively the game becomes about who can hit the most home runs; we had 20-30-run blowouts for many of the games we played.
The Become a Legend mode is hands down the best mode within the game. You create a likeness of yourself and head to minor leagues in Mexico. Here you will apply your trade in hopes to be signed to the Major Leagues and returning to US to play on the big stage. The season mode is a little watered down on what you’d come to expect from a FIFA or Madden. You’ll play through the season and - if successful - make it through to the playoffs and then play for Major League Baseball’s ultimate prize – The World Series.
Outside of the exhibition mode and season modes there are several mini games which add a bit of longevity to The Bigs 2. You can play a Home Run Derby, Fielding drills, Catching drills and a gimmicky race mode, which has you doing a series of Quick Time Events (QTE's) and pressing an A button here, B button there and jerking the Wiimote left and right to race around the outside of Chicago’s Rigley Field.
The Bigs 2 is fun Wii title that utilises the Nintendo Wii, and while it doesn’t look as pretty as a next gen title, and can be a little awkward, this is reflected in the RRP of $50. It’s a great party game and a lot of fun with friends, and would be a great deal of fun for a baseball-savvy gamer or someone looking to dip their toes into an arcade-style sports title.
Those who aren’t mentioned in the previous paragraph may want to take a walk and give it a miss.