All the pieces are there with "Pro Evolution Soccer 2018" but it feels as though many fall a little short of their full potential. "PES" is still a champion on the pitch where it matters most, but the series continues to fight an uphill battle in terms of licensing and feature set.
It's a testament to the the compelling nature of "NBA 2K18" that there's any such concern over time being wasted, time that could instead be spent playing more of such an exceptional game in any number of satisfying ways. "NBA 2K18" shines in the areas that matter most to basketball fanatics, through excellent gameplay and presentation, a variety of modes all with considerable depth and its celebration of the league's history.
It may be surprising that it would take an "arcade" mode to round out a simulation-based product, but NHL Threes does just that for "NHL 18." While the series is still lacking in some aspects of gameplay and presentation this year, "NHL" achieved something important, by becoming the most appealing edition of the series for an audience that extends beyond just the fanatics of the sport in a very long time.
"NBA Live 18" is closer to being a really good game than many would have anticipated, even after a year off for the series. It offers refreshingly simplified and genuinely fun gameplay with an excellent career mode. Deficiencies in other areas of the game hamper its appeal as a total package, making it difficult to recommend as more than an alternative to its competition, but it's still important to recognize this may finally be the turnaround year that "NBA Live" has been seeking since the current console generation began.
Were it not for "Longshot" and MUT Squads, many veterans of the "Madden" franchise might have had a difficult time discerning last year's edition from this one. Thankfully, those two new modes pay off, making all the effort devoted to them worthwhile. They're joined by subtle but valuable improvements to gameplay that become apparent the more "Madden NFL 18" is played.
It's difficult to reconcile how great the core gameplay is in "MLB The Show 17" with how it can literally waste your time by not recording the results. Should the servers stabilize and become reliable, there isn't a better pure gameplay experience in the genre, and there's also a lot of content and value to be found in the traditional modes as well as its live services. Like the real baseball season, it may be a long grind to get there but the payoff will almost certainly be worth it.
Whether it's laying out big hits or scoring satisfying goals there's some fun to be had with "Old Time Hockey." It just takes too long to get to a place of enjoyment, and even then doesn't negate the underlying issues and otherwise lack of content despite a reasonable $12 price point.