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’s handheld, it’s normally a powerhouse for sports games. That’s what’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’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’s-distracting play-by-play commentary conspire to ratchet down the experience a couple of notches. What’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’t take long to nail down the basics of hitting, pitching, and fielding; yet mastering these baseball arts takes time and practice. It’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 – 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.
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’s certainly enjoyable and chock full of variety; however, other than a couple of tacit modifications, it’s basically the same thing we played last time. The remaining modes are standard exhibitions, a “pick-up” game allowing you to quickly match up lineups created on the fly, and a Home Run derby. Nothing inspiring, to say the least.
We’re absolutely in love with The BIGS 2 on consoles, but just don’t feel it on the PSP. It could’ve and should’ve had more to do, especially in the multiplayer arena. When it comes to baseball on the small screen, you’re better off sticking with the sublime Show.
Jul 31, 2009