A couple of years ago, The Bigs rekindled our love affair with arcade sports games by breathing new life into the rather conservative world of baseball. From the simple-to-play, tough-to-master gameplay to the elegant use of strategic planning (not to mention gorgeous visuals), it established itself as the best of the best when it comes to non-traditional sporting affairs. Unfortunately, while its successor shines on consoles this season, a bit of that awesomeness has been lost in the translation to the PSP.
Say what you will about Sony%26rsquo;s handheld, it%26rsquo;s normally a powerhouse for sports games. That%26rsquo;s what%26rsquo;s really so disappointing about The BIGS 2; while the inherent on-field action retains much of the charm and intensity of its console cousins, there%26rsquo;s a lack of spit-n-polish and variety that detracts from the overall package much more than we expected. Inexplicably blurry transition screens and a disjointed, so awkward-it%26rsquo;s-distracting play-by-play commentary conspire to ratchet down the experience a couple of notches. What%26rsquo;s worse is the lack of any multiplayer options; no matter how well the developers craft the single-player campaign, a game like The BIGS is always better against a buddy. Not having that option wounds our soul.
To be fair, the on-field action is solid. It won%26rsquo;t take long to nail down the basics of hitting, pitching, and fielding; yet mastering these baseball arts takes time and practice. It%26rsquo;s not all about your athletic skills, either; each game is a tense back-and-forth chess match that ebbs and flows with each at-bat. Choosing when to use hard-earned turbo boosts at the right time %26ndash; not to mention executing even tougher-to-get Big Heat pitches or Big Blast at-bats %26ndash; will have you scheming and planning from the get-go.
The single-player Legends Challenge is mostly a copy-paste from the original title. You create a character and build him up over the course of a series of challenges in regular games and minigames, with the goal of becoming a World Series champion. It%26rsquo;s certainly enjoyable and chock full of variety; however, other than a couple of tacit modifications, it%26rsquo;s basically the same thing we played last time. The remaining modes are standard exhibitions, a %26ldquo;pick-up%26rdquo; game allowing you to quickly match up lineups created on the fly, and a Home Run derby. Nothing inspiring, to say the least.
We%26rsquo;re absolutely in love with The BIGS 2 on consoles, but just don%26rsquo;t feel it on the PSP. It could%26rsquo;ve and should%26rsquo;ve had more to do, especially in the multiplayer arena. When it comes to baseball on the small screen, you%26rsquo;re better off sticking with the sublime Show.
Jul 31, 2009