Operation Sports's Reviews
Effectively harnessing the strengths of virtual reality technology, NFL Pro Era II mostly delivers on its promise of testing how you would fare as an NFL quarterback. The locker room serves as perfect menu hub for a respectable swath of games modes. Mini-Camps Tour and 2-Minute Drill are ideal bite-sized modes where you can constantly try to beat your high scores. Season mode adds some structure and stats to your NFL journey while multiplayer's head-to-head games are a savvy addition, even if finding opponents can be next to impossible. A host of bugs threaten to derail your enjoyment at every turn though, some of which can be overlooked more than others. Running the ball is rare and ineffective by and large, leaving passing as the only dependable option. The graphics don't exactly pop off the screen and aren't helped by some clunky animations that wear out their welcome fast.
Football Manager 2024 is a wonderful simulation, something we have come to expect from Sports Interactive after continuously putting out top quality products. Even with some of the early bugs that accompany newly released games, the game represents the best of what is the beautiful game at its highest level. The only downside to this title is the amount of sleep you'll put off when you're trying to just get through the transfer window so you can finalize your squad to meet the demands of the business end of the season.
Wild Card Football makes a play at zagging where Madden is zigging by offering a zany arcade-style take on the sport, but it doesn’t quite live up to its potential. Its NFLPA license adds some authenticity by including real NFL players (but not their real NFL teams). A plethora of modes gives you an opportunity to experience the game in a variety of ways, with the card-collecting Dream Squad being a standout for its extensive customization.
With UFC not being a yearly release like Madden or NHL, I would expect a little bit more polish by now. Sure there a plethora of modes that I briefly touched upon earlier, but there doesn't seem to be any freshness to the game. Simply put, everything seems a bit…familiar. That might not be a bad thing for those who put in serious hours with UFC 4, but if you're looking for innovation, UFC 5 misses the mark in that regard.
Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged is an incredibly fun arcade racer that taps into childhood memories. While the Creature Rampage story and the game itself might be catered towards kids, adults will have a blast boosting across the unique tracks. Elimination Mode should be a party-pleaser, and when crazy challenging tracks are bountifully available then full online lobbies battling it out seems like it will be a great time. Completing the entire story portion of the game took me roughly 12 hours and that was without completing every Unleashed Goal or even every race. If you attempt to completed all Unleashed goals as well as the challenges, it looks like you can easily sink 15-20 total hours into the offline story mode. No matter how you play, Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 is a blast and worth a look if you're a fan of the genre or just want something different in your rotation.
This new feature fares better than the introduction of a total control configuration that dumbs down how to execute fancy maneuvers and complicates the business of body checking your opponent. HUT Moments provide some added depth to the single-player experience within the game's card-collecting modes. It's a shame though that offline modes like Be A Pro and Franchise have received little attention during this development cycle. The looming prospect of a battle pass within the World of Chel that you will be required to purchase in order to receive certain rewards taints an otherwise stellar online mode.
It's almost as if the only noticeable difference between FIFA 23 and EA Sports FC 24 is the actual name change. While everything away from the pitch mostly shines (apart from the aforementioned bugs), the action on the pitch does its best to remind us that EA is not serious about making a football simulation. Instead, EA just wants to monetize their cash cow. If there's one thing we know, it's that EA will patch this game to smithereens, but this year's game is going to have the slider makers working overtime to squeeze something out of EA Sports FC 24.
As good as the basketball can be when you're in the thick of the action, the pervasive presence of microtransactions threatens to ruin the entire appeal of the game's flagship modes. In MyCareer, you're not only all but required to purchase virtual currency to improve your attributes as in the past but now will need to buy a season pass or else run the risk of having your trusty badges regress to the point where they're almost useless. MyTeam's card-collecting mode has a similar pay-to-win framework where you can purchase level rewards or spend what feels like an eternity trying to unlock them instead. Both MyCareer and MyTeam have an offline component to offer some consolation, but taking your skills online will likely have you at a competitive disadvantage against anyone with deep pockets.
Only the most loyal PES diehards and those desperately searching for an alternative to FIFA/EA Sports FC are still checking for this game despite whatever download numbers Konami throws out there. I just hope that they don't wait too long and give us something to look forward to when it comes to more expansive modes.
For all the talk of franchise mode receiving attention in Madden 24 after being a complete disaster zone last year, there has not been the kind of innovative changes that fans hoped for and instead it leans more towards minor quality-of-life improvements. Madden Ultimate Team milks little enjoyment from collecting cards and building a team as competing online against others will likely require shelling out real money even more so than in the past because of the way the mode is designed. The game's menus lag like crazy and that makes navigating through any of them a tedious experience.
That being said, Super Mega Baseball 4 is another worthy entry in a series that offers a wacky yet surprisingly realistic and rewarding alternative to MLB The Show's more polished recreation of baseball's players and stadiums. The new legends in the game are a fun cross section from different eras of the sport's history that mix well with game's fictional roster of players, who come complete with their own distinct appearance, personalities, and traits. There's an impressive array of ways to play, whether you prefer to play versus the game's AI or against others online. The game's "ego" or difficulty allows you to fine-tune every facet of the sport precisely to ensure that you're finding an adequate challenge when facing the CPU or online opponents.
With all the new additions and improvements I have listed above, Out of the Park Baseball 24 delivers a baseball experience that feels authentic both on the field and up in the owner's office. It's an experience that can be customized in a way where the difficulty offers a challenge to returning players and a solid level of accessibility for newcomers.
But what will ultimately set 2K23 apart from other wrestling games is its massive creation suite. Create-a-wrestlers this year look as good as some of the WWE Superstars. And I can't wait to see what the community has in store for us casual gamers this year. Adding the ability to download player-created arenas is the icing on the cake. It's not perfect, but WWE 2K23 is the best game since the 2K name started being used.
Monster Energy Supercross 6 offers another deep career mode to satiate those looking for an immersive experience with longevity while offering up a fully integrated online suite for those looking to take the action online. If suiting up and getting dirty in some of the most iconic venues in the United States is your type of fun, adding Monster Energy Supercross 6 to the rotation is something you won't regret, and chances are the title might find a spot in that rotation for quite some time.
Despite the somewhat inflated price, Tiny Football is a fun, bite-sized football game that doesn't take itself too seriously in its quest to bring back that vintage feeling when pixelated graphics dominated and games were supposed to be about fun. The developers have committed to pushing out updates so don't be surprised to see even more items added. For now, we'll definitely continue to come back to this one and play a few tournaments to see if we can top the digital table.