It came out of a nowhere like the scariest of RKOs, but a sequel to Casey Powell Lacrosse 16 is here in the form of Casey Powell Lacrosse 18.
Immediately, you notice how the game looks quite similar to Lacrosse 16. Despite two years between releases, the player models in Lacrosse 18 look nearly identical to those in 16. There are some changes to shading and in-game palettes, but, other than that, it’s hard to tell the difference between the two.
Every player seemingly looks the same, and there’s hardly any variation in player models so it looks like just a copy-and-paste effort. Surprisingly, that’s not the worst of the visual transgressions.
Lacrosse 18 is a more welcoming and fluid experience.
Where the game looks atrocious is in the crowd visuals. The pixelated mess that makes up the crowd is some of the worst I’ve ever seen, and they can quite literally cause headaches when you look at them.
Offering quick matches, career modes, and online play, there are a number of modes for players to enjoy. That said, I found just one — yes, ONE — online match. So, if you’re getting this game to play with others, you better make sure you have friends who own it as well or you’ll be awfully lonely.
Career mode gives players two choices. You can play as a single player and go from a low-level college player to professional all-star, or you can take control of a team in either the college or professional ranks. There’s also the option to play as a current pro and live out their career.
The modes are fun and will be the reason you come back to the game, but they’re nothing to write home about when it comes to features or innovations. In fact, much like the graphics, they remain mostly unchanged from Lacrosse 16 as well.
On the field, Lacrosse 18 is a more welcoming and fluid experience than 16 when it comes to player control. There’s no more delay in your movement with players as the response time has been finetuned to near perfection this year. The way players react to the ball is also improved as goaltenders react to the ball quicker and players will reach out there sticks in order to knock a ball down.
Faceoffs are no longer a button mash as you having to time your stick movements in order to win a draw for your team. Even the AI has seen improvement, forcing players to actually pass and develop a strategy to find success on the field. This is especially true on the higher difficulties.
There are issues with some broken and delayed animations, and clipping occurs far too often for my liking. I mean far…too…often. It even took away a goal where the ball was clearly in the net before the goaltender clipped his way through and into the net for the save.
The customization suite is deeper than it was in the previous installment, and it’s just as good as Big Ant is known for. With a game full of generic teams, it’s up to the community to create the teams based off real life schools and organizations.
From your stick to your stadium, there’s really nothing you can’t customize in Lacrosse 18. The only gripe about the game’s customization is the limited logos to choose from. It would’ve been nice to be able to download your own for usage, allowing you to really create the teams and schools you love.
By far the worst aspect of the game is its presentation. The commentary is an immediate turn off as plays are miscalled, goaltenders who give up 10 goals in a half are praised for “stopping everything”, and it sounds as though a speak-and-say is calling the game rather than a person. It’s just not good at all.
The camera options also pose a major problem within the game. It’s not awful when you play controlling a team — aside from the poorly designed small player icon that sits below your player — but playing as a locked player in your career is nearly impossible in certain situations.
The action only follows the ball, so depending on where on the field the play is happening or your current position, there’s no way of knowing where you are on the field. It’s frustrating when you are constantly getting called for being offside when you have no idea where your player is in the first place. The only way to know is by an icon that’s barely visible on the field, and even that only shows you the direction of your player.
The camera was perfectly fine in Lacrosse 16 so I don’t get the need to try and fix what wasn’t broken. How you have a “Be-A-Pro” career mode without the ability to follow the player being controlled with the camera is beyond me. It’s a major design flaw that really ruins the mode.
In nearly every way, Casey Powell Lacrosse 18 is better than its predecessor. But when the bar wasn’t very high to begin with, being better doesn’t make it a good game.
Fans of the series are sure to find entertainment with Lacrosse 18, but it’s likely going to be shortlived because there’s not much to justify a constant return. For a game that expects players to drop $50, this feels more like a major patch as opposed to a completely new game. It just feels like too much of the same.
With no major improvements, awful presentation, mediocre gameplay and a higher-than-necessary price point, Casey Powell Lacrosse 18 is a game that only diehard fans of the sport will appreciate. And even that may be reaching a bit.
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