Plugged In

Review: ‘MLB The Show 18’

Major League Baseball is seemingly at a crossroads. In an effort to appeal to a younger audience and grow the sport, fundamental changes — things like pitch clocks, limiting mound visits and starting extra innings with a runner in scoring position (a change making its debut in the minor leagues this season) — are being made to a game that has largely evolved a glacial pace.

Any change made to a game as steeped in tradition as baseball is sure to ruffle the feathers of some longtime fans and that is exactly what happened. Critics were especially vocal in voicing their displeasure at the extra-inning rule change that could one day make its way to the major leagues.

Sony’s Major League Baseball franchise, “MLB The Show 18,” finds itself at a similar crossroads.

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Activision announced Tuesday that the second batch of downloadable content for “Call of Duty: WWII,” The War Machine.

The DLC pack consists of three new multiplayer maps, a new War Mode mission and the next chapter in Nazi Zombies. The new maps will take players to the sands of Egypt, the seaside city of Dunkirk and a V2 rocket test site in rural Germany. The War Mode mission, Operation Husky, tasks players securing intel on German activity in the Italian port cities of Naples and Palermo. For fans of Nazi Zombies, The Shadowed Throne “brings our heroes into the heart of Nazi Germany to confront a desperate and evil regime,” according to the news release.

The War Machine DLC pack will be available April 10 on PlayStation 4 before arriving later on other platforms.

Spring has arrived, and with it comes the year’s first wave of blockbuster video game releases. Over the next few weeks we’ll see the latest installment of Ubisoft’s “Far Cry” franchise, a fresh take on Sony’s “God of War” and, of course, the definitive sign that spring has truly sprung — “MLB The Show 18.”

But before turning my focus toward the games of the not-so-distant future, let’s pause and take a moment to look back at some of the games I’ve been enjoying so far in 2018:

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Counting down the top video games of 2017

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2017 wasn’t exactly a great year for yours truly. As the year began, I found myself mired in a rut and with zero desire to pick up a controller, something I wrote about in this space last summer. And as some of you may know, the year ended with the passing of my dad after a short battle with leukemia. The time in between? That frankly wasn’t much better.

While 2017 is, by and large, a year I would just as soon forget, it was a surprisingly good year for gaming — Nintendo recaptured its magic with the Switch, Sony struck gold with console exclusives and Microsoft brought the phenomenon known as “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” to the console market.

Before completely shifting the focus to what lies ahead in the new year, let’s take one last look back at 2017 as I count down my picks for the Top 10 games of the year:

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Review: ‘The Evil Within 2’

Way back in 2014, “Resident Evil” director Shinji Mikami and his Tango Gameworks studio set the bar for modern survival-horror games with “The Evil Within.” Now three years later, Tango has delivered a sequel that maintains the creepy vibe of Mikami’s vision while offering more of what made the original game such an unforgettable experience.

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“Animal Crossing” fans rejoice: Nintendo’s next foray into mobile gaming — “Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp” — is set to launch next month.

During a Nintendo Direct presentation Wednesday, Nintendo unveiled the first details about “Pocket Camp,” which will be free to download for Apple and Android users. In “Pocket Camp,” players will be responsible for designing and customizing a campsite that your friends and familiar “Animal Crossing” residents can visit.

Crafting will play a big role in “Pocket Camp” as you’ll be able to collect resources in order to build furniture and accessories to further personalize your site. You can even build amenities, larger-than-life attractions that are sure to be the envy of all your furry friends. Many of the traditional “Animal Crossing” activities will also be available, including collecting bugs, planting trees and flowers, and of course, fishing.

Seasonal events are expected to return, bringing exclusive items to collect. Of course, you can also spend real money to purchase Leaf Tickets, which can be used to obtain items more quickly.

While I’ve never been a big fan of mobile gaming — that includes the “Pokemon Go!” craze, which I avoided at all costs — I am really looking forward to revisiting the “Animal Crossing” universe, even if it is only on my phone.

I’m not ashamed to say that “LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2” is one of my most-anticipated games of the fall release season. The original “LEGO Marvel Super Heroes” remains one of my favorite games of last generation and is hands-down the title my kids and I spent the most time playing together.

And “LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2” looks like the bigger, better sequel we’ve been waiting on for years.

In addition to unveiling a new story trailer recently at New York Comic Con, publisher Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment announced what players can expect in the way of DLC and the obligatory Season Pass.

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The next entry in EA’s action driving franchise, “Need for Speed: Payback,” is racing toward retail, and today the publisher unveiled the game’s official story trailer. You can take it for a test drive above.

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for “Need for Speed” as the early iterations on PC were some of the first racing games I ever played. Though the series has hit a few potholes over the years, “Payback” has certainly piqued my interest.

“Need for Speed: Payback” launches Nov. 10 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

To celebrate Friday’s release of “The Evil Within 2,” publisher Bethesda has released a new launch trailer, which you can view above.

“The Evil Within 2” continues the story of detective Sebastian Castellanos as he braves unspeakable horrors in search of his daughter, Lily. The original game, directed by Shinji Mikami of “Resident Evil” fame, helped usher in a new era of survival-horror games and the sequel looks every bit as terrifying.

Fittingly, “The Evil Within 2” arrives on Friday the 13th for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

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(Editor’s note: This review contains spoilers for “Batman: The Enemy Within.”)

Much of the momentum that “Batman: The Enemy Within” built with the cliffhanger conclusion to its premiere episode was surprisingly squandered in Episode 2, “The Pact.”

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