It’s that time of year again! People are making lists and checking them twice. The candles will be lit and gifts will be purchased and given out to loved ones. The real question is – what do you get the sports gamer in your life? To quell your fears, I bring you the Sports Gamers Online 2018 Holiday Holiday Sports Games Gift Guide.
Part I focused on indie games and part II focused on some sleeper picks. Today we’ll be showcasing the major AAA published sports games that you all know and love. We’ll be going through these titles, telling you a bit about them and giving you some insight from some of Sports Gamers Online finest.
Part III: AAA Games
1. Madden 19
Developer: EA Tiburon
Madden continues to be a summer release staple. News starts trickling in about the next Madden in April-ish with August always being the time to strap on the pads and hit the gridiron.
Madden 19 continues the EA’s their ever-evolving game of football with some nice presentation changes, including WWE’s Jonathan Coachman in pre-game and halftime shows.
Madden also has a plethora of modes for you to enjoy, though there is nothing new from previous iterations of the series. You have a sequel to Longshot called Longshot: Homecoming. You continue to follow the careers of Devin Wade and Colt Cruise as they trek down their path to NFL stardom. Other modes include MUT, Play Now and Franchise – the standard Madden fare.
On the field, you’ll find some changes that are sure to put a smile on your face. Man coverage has been improved and can now be used on defense without worry of being exploited. Momentum tackling delivers punishing hits and pushes piles in either direction.
SGO Managing Editor Mike Straw gave Madden 19 a 3.75 out of 5 in his review and praised MUT’s upgrades.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Origin (PC)
Developer: EA Canada
EA Canada has received a lot of flack over the years for their NHL series. What started as a disappointing next-generation debut with NHL 15 has evolved into a very good hockey game.
For all the grief I’ve given EA Canada and their (mis)treatment of the NHL series, they knocked NHL 19 out of the park.
NHL 19’s biggest ally to the player is choice. EASHL has been transformed into World of Chel which includes EASHL, the new Ones mode which is a 1v1v1 game and NHL Threes returns. Franchise also returns and got a much needed upgrade.
Whether you’re an online player, a single player who loves Franchise or some Chel – NHL 19 is the game for you.
3. NBA 2K19
Developer: Visual Concepts
NBA 2K basketball games continue to be the standard in which all over basketball games are measured to. Every year developer Visual Concepts continues to innovate and give basketball fans the best game available.
This year, NBA 2K19 offers an expanded MyPlayer mode with a much larger neighborhood for you to explore. The neighborhood now includes some trivia and a dodgeball court. To be fair, the microtransactions are strong in this game. Progress is better than it was in NBA 2K18, but the game still tempts you with VC purchases every chance it gets.
MyTeam is back and has gotten some new modes as well. If you’re a veteran to this game you know the grind is real. However, if pulling packs if your jam you’ll have a fun time pulling player after player.
Managing Editor Mike Straw game NBA 2K19 a 4.5 score overall and still considers the NBA 2K franchise the top basketball simulation game.
4. NBA Live 19
Developer: EA Tiburon
If NBA 2K19 is the big brother in basketball simulation games, NBA Live 19 is the little brother who is starting to catch up in height and weight.
While it isn’t the polished basketball sim that NBA 2K19 is, NBA Live 19 is a nice alternative for people who are sick of the 2K series.
What NBA Live 19 does best is their “The One” mode. The One is your NBA Live 19 career mode where you go from being a nobody to being an NBA superstar. The Street World Tour allows your player to play some gorgeous courts around the world.
If you’re a franchise player, this game doesn’t pay a lot of attention to it. NBA 2K19 does a better job franchise wise, but to be fair, NBA Live 19 is a good alternative.
Managing Editor Mike Straw scored NBA Live 19 a 3.5 overall in his review.
5. Pro Evolution Soccer 2019
Pro Evolution Soccer is one of two soccer offerings this holiday season. PES 2019 spent most of its time evolving their MyClub mode, which is PES’ team building mode. This year, you’re able to not only get legends but also special player cards that can make your team better.
On the pitch, gameplay has remained the same as last year with Konami deciding to spend their time refining the gameplay rather than introducing new mechanics that may not work properly.
The gameplay, and more importantly the ball physics, are PES 2019’s greatest strength and should provide a strong game of soccer for anyone.
SGO’s Daniel Baesel gave Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 a 4 overall.
6. FIFA 19
Developer: EA Vancouver
FIFA 19 continues to be the king of the pitch.
EA seemed to go above and beyond with this year’s iteration, adding little things like players controlling the ball with different body parts. The ball physics continue to be some of the best in the business as well.
EA has also expanded their Football Ultimate Team mode, allowing for more players and stars to be pulled from packs and telling you the chance you have to pull those stars.
FIFA 19 continues the tradition of “the beautiful game” with an absolute jaw-dropping opening and some very crisp imagery. Playing on a 4K TV with a console or on a high-powered PC bring those visuals to another level and puts FIFA 19’s graphics on par with some of this generation’s best.
SGO’s Daniel Baesel gave FIFA 19 a 4.5 overall stating that this year’s game is one of the most complete offerings FIFA has ever put out.
7. WWE 2K19
Developer: Yukes, Visual Concepts
WWE 2K19 almost made my sleepers list because the expectations were low after WWE 2K18. The reason it could be considered a sleeper? It’s the best next generation offering 2K has ever brought to the table.
Everything has been improved over WWE 2K18. It would have been easy for Yukes to put out another re-hash and slap AJ Styles on the cover, but it seems the team learned about what went wrong last year and did their best to change it.
New to the WWE 2K series are towers. In a Mortal Kombat-like vein, towers give you a wonderful single player challenge and increase the difficulty as you move up the tower.
Audio and commentary, something that has been abysmal in past WWE 2K games, has been re-worked and Corey Graves brings an incredibly fresh voice to the table. Little things like facts during entrances really make this year’s iteration stand out.
SGO Editor Kevin Finley gave WWE 2K19 a 3.88 overall and really liked this year’s pacing and visuals.
8. MLB The Show 18
Developer: Sony San Diego Studios
PlayStation fans rejoice! MLB The Show 18 continues to be the pinnacle baseball game on Sony’s home console.
While MLB The Show 18 doesn’t add any features that’ll know your stirrups off, but it makes tweaks to its top-notch gameplay and refines the experience.
MLB The Show 18 continues the tradition of wonderful commentary and presentation. This year Mark DeRosa joins Matt Vasgersian and Dan Plesac in the commentary booth. The trio recorded their lines together which comes across wonderfully at times. It is a little jarring when the spliced lines do happen, but it seems to be very few and far between.
New animations were implemented into this game and make the game a lot more fluid.
The gameplay offerings include the same as year’s past with Diamond Dynasty, Franchise and Road to the Show but some big changes coming to DD and RttS. Diamond Dynasty has more legends than ever including the Sultan of Swat Babe Ruth. Road to the Show provides archetypes for the first time ever and a nice RPG-style element.
Managing Editor Mike Straw gave MLB The Show 18 a 4.38 overall, praising the deep offerings The Show has.
9. Mario Tennis Aces
Mario Tennis Aces was both lauded and criticized with fans. The idea behind it, paired with the Nintendo Switch, is perfect. You get Mario characters playing tennis on the go. What Nintendo gave you in execution, at launch, left a lot to be desired.
The gameplay itself is strong. Mario Tennis Aces brings some wonderful arcade tennis to the Nintendo Switch with moves like skill shots and a power shot mixed among normal tennis moves like slicing and lobs.
Mario Tennis Aces bring a cool cast of characters to the court as well. Your usual characters are dressed in their tennis best such as Mario, Princess Peach and Luigi but where the game really shines is being able to play as Chain Chomp and Spike.
The good news for Mario Tennis Aces fans is that Nintendo continues to support the game. Patch 2.0 added some wonderful characters to the roster (Birdo, Shy Guy, Petey Piranha and Koopa Paratrooper) and recently Nintendo launched online doubles.
Managing Editor Mike Straw gave Mario Tennis Aces a 3.5 overall, stating that the story mode is just a glorified tutorial and he didn’t feel the $60 price tag met its value at the time of launch. He did say that it is the best Mario Tennis game ever launched with all that in mind.
10. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Developer: Bandai Namco, Sora Ltd.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is Nintendo’s premiere fighting game. Featuring 73 characters, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate provides the deepest Smash Bros. game I’ve played with hours upon hours of good smashing fun.
The single-player adventure, World of Light, is an okay offering that I found incredibly tedious are 6 hours of gameplay. I’ve been slogging through it, but unlocking spirits doesn’t do anything for me so I am not sure if I will return.
The online portion of Smash seems to focus on speed of finding a game rather than finding you the game you want. You could set your search to be a 1v1 with no items and end up in a free-for-all or team smash with items on, which can be frustrating.
With all that said, though, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is an incredible nostalgic trip and wonderful modern fighter. The game has over 100 stages and 800 music tracks as well that keeps things fresh and innovative.
While my review isn’t live as of this writing, I gave the game incredibly high marks and figure my score to be in the 4.5 range. I can’t recommend it enough for the Nintendo Switch and fans of the fighting game genre.