KOF’s resistance to any grand story arc defies the pressure being applied by its rivals. Minimal solo options and routine online duels don’t reinvent anything either. This isn’t laziness on SNK’s part, however. It feels more like a focus on maintaining the design philosophy that the player base has loved all along: potent character design, instantly identifiable team play, and off-the-wall plotlines.
Of course, it's no surprise that NBA 2K18 looks good; the series has looked the part since its advent on the Dreamcast, staying relevant visually and staking out its own part of basketball culture. NBA 2K18 continues the trend, capturing the feel of basketball's urban centers in The Neighborhood.
Although EA Vancouver planned a three-year rejuvenation of their hockey series, NHL 18 seems like it's on the downside of generational sports games. While Threes adds some zest and significant features, that's the only notable addition to the game. When the introduction menu pops up and “What's New” offers only three choices (one being a tutorial), 2017 is not a good year. NHL 18 is (as always for this series) more than competent, but for the first time in a while, it's a “wait for next year” revision.
In the end, Yonder isn't inventive, exactly, as the multitude of ideas and cross-media inspirations converge somehow into something infinitely familiar. Missions are cut down to absolute basics to fulfill an open world quota, but it's possible to forgive this when traipsing through this aesthetically pleasing land and helping these delighted folk. And as importantly, there's bravery in eliminating things like combat and leveling, allowing Yonder a rare, distinctive brevity.
With its inconsequential story and addiction to inane splatter kills, Rebellion's Sniper Elite 4 doesn't subvert expectations. It doesn't have to necessarily: The appeal of shooting digital Nazis may never stagnate, and increasing the scale of each stage means more Nazis to kill and an increased potential for strategy. But a bigger scope makes the inherent problems more visible.