Sporting News's Reviews
Three years into the reboot of the R.B.I. Baseball series and it's still a completely uninspired mobile-quality game being sold for four times as much on consoles. It's a shame that Xbox owners have now gone several years without a having a legitimate MLB game but it's been even longer since a quality one was released for a Microsoft system.
The pure-simulation route for non-traditional sports seems best suited for those meant to be more serene than extreme. There just isn't much fun to be had with "Infinite Air" because of a steep learning-curve that isn't overcome in a reasonable amount of time.
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.
While "3on3 Freestyle" is lacking in many ways, it's still a unique entry on the market that is worth trying out. Given that the game is free, there's really no reason for anyone who may have interest not to do so. There is the potential that new modes, courts and characters through post-release support could make the game more appealing, but the core gameplay may not be good enough for those with current-day expectations of traditional sports games to give it much time to improve.
"NBA Live 19" seeks to carve out a niche in the sports game genre through its well-designed Career Mode and its accompanying online cooperative and competitive modes that involve the player's created character. That direction will resonate with some but alienate those seeking a more traditional NBA experience, which is severely lacking.
While the game offers online capability, all attempts to play have failed in the days since release. It's unclear whether online matchmaking is broken or whether there simply aren't others searching to play online. Either scenario essentially negates online as a feature, which is unfortunate because it would likely be chaotic fun and would extend the longevity of the title.
"MLB The Show 18" is still a great game for those passionate about baseball, but the consistency the series has displayed over the past decade has been at least somewhat broken with this new edition. For many, the fantastic gameplay will offset the loss of modes, the lack of advancement in others, and the lingering server struggles. Ultimately, though, it's becoming more clear now than ever that the series is begining to have trouble meeting the heightened expectations now present within the genre.
Perhaps it's fitting that "Mutant Football League" is a little rough around the edges and has some punishing characteristics. The game is brash, self-aware, and best suited for an older audience. The carnage inflicted is thoroughly entertaining and strategically the game gets better as its nuances become better understood. With "Mutant Football League," the dirtiest trick of all was making fans of the original wait 24 years for the sequel.
"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.
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 2K20" is a great game for those who new to the franchise or who have taken some time away from it. The every-year purchaser, however, may not find the same value present as they've come to expect from 2K while stumbling upon familiar reasons for frustration. Despite that, it would be difficult not to recommend "2K20" under almost any circumstance given its authenticity and depth in a number of areas.
The twilight of a video game generation tends to produce the most well-regarded and fondly-remembered editions of sports games. While it does not appear "Madden NFL 20" will stand among those past greats, a more defined attempt at providing gameplay authenticity bodes well for the future of the series.
'PES 2019' feels as though it continues to tread water for the series. The gameplay experience is brilliant and that alone makes it worthwhile for any soccer fan, but the lackluster feature set and missing licenses complicate its approachability.
"Madden NFL 19" feels like an adequate edition in the series, but not a special one. Additions to Franchise Mode and the RPM animation system have proven worthwhile, but the second year of the story mode comes up short of expectations. The changes this year might not be exciting on the surface, but the longevity of the game could benefit greatly from what they provide — more strategy in building teams and more control of players on the field.
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.
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.
"Disc Jam" has the right formula to become the next big breakout indie game and possibly even succeed as an eSport. The matchmaking will need to improve and new content delivered regularly to prevent it from becoming just a passing fad, but with a high fun factor and strategic nature, despite simplicity and accessibility, "Disc Jam" delivers.