It's difficult to think of bowling as a sport. Whereas most sports demand you be in excellent physical condition, bowling usually consists of older, heavier players who spend at least half of the game sitting down. But that's neither here nor there.
The biggest selling point of Brunswick Circuit Pro Bowling 2 for the PlayStation is just how many options are packed into the game. The game sports nine play modes, each with its own feel and style. You can opt for a basic game, tournament play, teamplay, a skins game, and a skins challenge, as well as start a career, practice, or play a game of the uber-groovy cosmic bowling - which is bowling in the dark with lots of neon and black lights that make everything look crazy. To do the actual rolling you can either select from one of the 11 Brunswick pro bowlers in the game, or you can create your own bowler. The create-a-bowler mode is a simplified version of the create-a-wrestler mode found in THQ's wrestling games. You can choose from several different body styles, customize your bowler's features, and then set attribute points (it should be noted that our attempts at re-creating the cast of The Big Lebowski failed). Before you start rolling, you can select an actual Brunswick ball for your bowler to use for his strike and spare throws that conforms to his personal bowling style. All these options make Brunswick Circuit Pro Bowling 2 almost infinitely customizable, and they greatly enhance the replay value.
Once out on the lane, you'll spend your time in one of two different control screens. The first shows your bowler's stance and lets you line up your feet and your shot, as well as tweak your spin and even control your power. Once you've lined up your shot, you switch to the actual throw, where you use a meter to control actual power and accuracy. For non-analog controllers, this means using a power meter and hitting a button to stop the moving line in two correct spots along the meter. But for analog controllers, a clever pull-and-push method has been implemented that seems much more realistic. Pull the analog stick back to start your power meter, and push it forward at the right time to stop it and judge accuracy. If the analog stick hits exactly forward, your shot will be right on, while a slight deviation to the left or right will cause the ball to travel in that direction. While this isn't the first time a meter like this has been used in a sports game, it's definitely a great addition.
The graphics however are a real letdown. Most of the bowlers look pretty blocky, and the throwing animations look extremely unrealistic. The lane backgrounds are nice, but the crowd looks extremely out of place, almost laughably so. Once you roll, the camera randomly switches around, showing your shot from all sorts of dramatic angles before finally settling on a top-down view of the pins as the ball plows through them. This is a neat feature, and it helps break up the monotony of bowling with a little dramatic flair. Throw a particularly excellent shot and you may get treated with a replay or an animation of your bowler celebrating. While some of the celebrations are pretty funny, some of them take a good while to load and simply aren't worth the wait. Surprisingly, the audio is pretty good. You can choose from two types of music - cosmic jams or Brunswick groove - or surfer rock and hip-hopish house, respectively. The original music is pretty spiffy, especially in the cosmic-bowling mode, where it's notably louder than in other modes. The sound effects are pretty generic - a ball-rolling noise during your roll and a crashing sound when the ball smacks into the pins. If you're playing on TV or in a tournament, the crowd will cheer when you throw rocks and show concern when you split pins. This helps you get into the game and ups the drama on a critical shot.
Unfortunately, the hilarious smack-talking-bowler intro movies found in the first game have been left out of this one. But, given the amount of extras packed into Brunswick Circuit Pro Bowling 2, you can easily see why the space-sucking movies had to be taken out. But even without Parker Bohn III talking about how he wipes the lane with the competition, this game is a solid bowling title. With plenty of modes and extras, Brunswick Circuit Pro Bowling 2 is accurate enough to keep die-hard rollers happy, yet simple enough to be a game even a casual bowling fan would enjoy.