Your typical baseball game doesn’t come packed with fireballs, explosions, power-ups, and character-building, but chances are you already knew The Bigs 2 isn’t your average hardballer. In fact, it celebrates not being a staid old sim; yes, it sports MLB licensed-players, stadiums, and teams, but in reality it’s got more in common with a good ol’ action RPG than anything else. While the language is spoken in fastballs and double plays, games are won and lost with strategic usage of scarce resources and tactical decision-making. It’s also the most fun we’ve had playing just about any sports title in this generation.
Much of what we love about The Bigs 2 on the next-gen consoles makes it onto the Wii version, including the highly stylized gameplay and the tense back-and-forth between pitcher and hitter that highlights each at-bat. Choosing when to use hard-earned turbo boosts at the right time – not to mention executing even tougher-to-get Big Heat pitches or Big Blast at-bats – will have you scheming and planning from the get-go. All of the major game modes and mini-games are here too, with the major exception of online play, an unfortunate casualty.
Naturally, the biggest difference is the controls. There are a few options, including standard Wii Remote, Remote/Nunchuk combo, and Classic controller (but no Wii Motion Plus support). The waggle controls feel pretty imprecise, as successful hitting and pitching seems more random than we would like. Even though some key in-game moments are built for the motion sensing device (such as legendary catches), it’s obvious that the controls were shoehorned onto the platform. Everything works well enough to have a good time, but there’s no doubt it’s clumsier than it could be.
While the game will be familiar to vets of the series, just about every aspect of on-field gameplay has been tweaked or upgraded; there are boatloads of new additions that add a lot more flavor to the mix. The most prevalent of these is the batter’s wheelhouse, which can work in both players’ favor. Hitters can cause major damage if they get ahold of a ball in their hot zone, but pitchers get more turbo boost if they’re able to blow one through the spot. This immediately adds more drama to each at-bat, as a healthy store of turbo is a key to victory.
A meaty single-player campaign and an all-new 162-game season combine to provide a compelling amount of single-player content, along with a raft of new and returning mini-games. Even so, The Bigs 2 is always at its best when two players square off against each other – which is why the lack of online play is so disappointing.
Complaints aside, though, The Bigs 2 on the Wii is still a big-time winner. In fact, it’s our favorite baseball game of the season, even if it’s really just an action game dressed up in pinstripes.
Jul 16, 2009