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The Bigs 2 (PSP) artwork

The Bigs 2 (PSP) review

"If you havenít played the original game, you should find The Bigs 2 highly enjoyable. If you've already experienced its predecessor, though, be sure that you approach it expecting an extension rather than a true sequel. Otherwise, you'll most likely wind up disappointed with what it has to offer."

Arcade-style baseball has returned to consoles and the PSP with the release of The Bigs 2. Since an in-depth review of the game's Xbox 360 version is already posted on-site, I wonít go into extreme detail. All you really need to know is that as far as gameplay elements go, the portable and console versions share pretty much everything. Diving catches, flaming pitches, big hits and bigger home-runs, Big Blast and Big Heat... itís all here. Instead of going over all of that again, then, I'll focus primarily on what makes the portable version different from its console brethren.

While "Become a Legend" is the main mode of the console version, the "Legends Challenge" is the PSP version's main event. In this mode, you create a player, select the team for which he will play and then watch him go from being a rookie to one of the corresponding team's greatest players. The Legends Challenge mode sees you traveling all over the US and taking on teams from the various states. Each of those states features three challenge types for you to tackle. You'll be able to travel to a new destination once you complete the lot of them. In almost every instance, you must complete an additional task besides just winning a match. For example, one challenge requires that you get three RBIs with your player. Another dictates that you must get 10 strikeouts in a 9-inning game. The different tasks ensure that the Legends Challenge mode remains fresh.

At the end of each game, you'll be awarded points based on your performance. Stealing bases, hitting home runs, getting RBIs and similar actions will boost your score. You also earn points by completing three different types of mini-game: hitting, running and catching. Surprisingly, the console mini-game called "Home Run Pinball" is missing from this PSP version.

Once you have earned enough points by doing well in the mini-games, you'll be able to upgrade one of five player attributes. Among them are glove and arm proficiency, which determine how often you will be able to catch the ball and how fast you can throw, respectively. Such attributes are useless if you position your player on first base, though, since those two skills won't come into play at all. And since you can't change playing position mid-career, you'll find yourself focusing exclusively on the three remaining attributes (speed, power and contact).

When you actually start playing, you'll find that the three-inning matches barely take more than 10 minutes to reach a conclusion. The result is that this is the perfect baseball game if youíre on the move. The light strategy and stats also bring strategy to the overall package without slowing things down too much, which makes for a good experience overall. There are just two problems that hold The Bigs 2 back from true greatness.

The first of those is that The Bigs 2 doesn't really seem to deserve the '2' in its title. "The Bigs 1.5" would have been a more appropriate title for what the game offers, since there's not really enough new content to be called a proper sequel. 95% of the game is recycled, including player animations, celebrations, frustrations, face types in the player creation mode, commentary, sound effects and so forth. The list can go on and on, plus something else remains the same: The Bigs 2 features one of the worst crowd animation effects to be found in a sports title.

The second problem is the lack of multi-player. If you were planning to kick your friend's butt in a "friendly" game of baseball, you'll have to find a different title.

Despite the recycled content and the lack of innovation (about the only other changes I noticed to gameplay besides the ones I've mentioned were the batter's wheelhouse and a reworked rock soundtrack), it felt great to step onto the virtual field once more thanks to the high-speed plays and over-the-top action that the franchise always provides. If you havenít played the original game, you should find The Bigs 2 highly enjoyable. If you've already experienced its predecessor, though, be sure that you approach it expecting an extension rather than a true sequel. Otherwise, you'll most likely wind up disappointed with what it has to offer.


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Freelance review by Sohail Saleem (September 02, 2009)

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