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Welcome to the Bigs
Arcade-style baseball is back on the Nintendo Wii with MLB the Bigs 2. The sequel, while not by leaps and bounds, does improve on its predecessor. This game includes an enhanced season mode, a host of bonus games – though most are repetitive and irritating – and good use of the Wii controls.
While the game boasts these improvements, the game's graphics and mechanics are sorely lacking. The game also fails to take advantage of online gaming - a great feature of the console. Despite some weaknesses, the game represents one of the few complete baseball games on the Wii – which isn't saying much given all the sports-themed shovelware out there. Even other recongizable titles such as the 2k series have largely failed on the console. Bigs 2, on the other hand, represents a step in right direction.
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Fortunately, the game can be fully played using the Wii remote - using the nunchuk while batting was something that made gameplay difficult and cumbersome in the original game. Though the controls are decent, I would have been interested in seeing how this game would play if it supported Wii MotionPlus.
Batting is all about timing and the controls are properly responsive, though somewhat simple. In other, more realistic simulations, players often can guess where pitchers will throw in order to maximize a swing. The Bigs 2 only features a batter's “wheelhouse" - essentially a hot spot pitchers would be wise to avoid.
The pitching is obviously a bit more complicated, but fairly easy to pick up when compared to other baseball simulations. Fielding is a bit more frustrating; the controls seem to be a bit too sensitive and players often will needlessly dive for balls, allowing the opponent to turn a single into a double, a double into a triple and so on.
What makes the gameplay so interesting, as was true of its predecessor, were the turbo functions - which all but guarantee a big strikeout for a pitcher or inevitable home run blast for the batter.
The only downside to gameplay is the ability of fielders to dive or jump unrealistically to catch fly balls – even for an arcade-style game, it was a bit over the top.
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The major improvement of the Bigs 2 is the inclusion of multiple game modes, including a more in-depth season mode known as “Become a Legend" - you begin as a injured star making a rehab start, hoping to return to the big leagues. You return and maintain your professional status by winning games and completing specific tasks within those games as well as succeeding in the various mini games.
Unfortunately the mini games themselves are unbearable. They aren't even worth mentioning besides the fact that they tend to be, at best, briefly amusing (albeit repetitive), and at worst, pointless and not even remotely entertaining.
The game would have been better served with a more straightforward season mode which focused more on regular games and less so on tasks and mini games.
Pinball mode is easily the best of the other modes and one that wasn't in the original Wii version. The mode is entertaining; essentially a combination of home run derby and juvenile delinquency as you hit balls into cars, buildings and other public property. The sites of destruction include Times Square, New York City; Las Vegas, Nevada and Shibuya, Tokyo. This mode also boasts the best graphics (the lights of Las Vegas and Time Square really pop).
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Graphics and Sound
Frankly, even by Wii standards, the graphics in this game are poor. MLB the Show surely looks better – on the PS2, that is. Graphics aren't the Wii's greatest strengths (obviously), but there have been several other games released on the console that have boasted fairly impressive visuals; players, parks and just about everything else in this game look almost unfinished. The sound is sufficient, sound effects are decent and game commentary manages to be relatively fresh as opposed to the typical stagnant commentary of most sports games.
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The Wii Difference/ Final Thoughts
The main difference between this game and the 360/PS3 versions are graphics and controls. While the graphics on the other consoles knock this game out of the park, the controls are what make the Wii version more enjoyable (though be sure to use the wrist strap to avoid accidents.) The original game was released, the edge clearly went to the 360/PS3 counterparts, but now that sequel features similar game modes, the Wii version may now have the edge. MLB the Bigs 2 is the best baseball experience on the Wii thus far (partly thanks to the shortcomings of MLB 2k9,) though if you're looking for a realistic baseball simulation, that game does not exist yet on the Nintendo Wii.