There’s nothing like the real thing when it comes to your favourite sports, but for most of us becoming a professional athlete and achieving glory with our hometown team was just a wistful dream. Thankfully there are some great video games out there that allow you to step into the shoes of your heroes and become king of the court or pitch. The sports genre of game is a competitive industry with a few developers trying to corner the market and be the go-to title of their selected sport year after year. There will be some great sports titles coming out in 2017 with a few release dates on the horizon, but here is our take on what is the best game for each sport right now.
Ride 2 is worthy of a mention in this competitive category and with over 200 hundred different bikes and with much-improved gameplay and graphics it’s a good step forward for developers Milestone. The only issues with Ride 2 are the loading times which improved, but still protracted, and the AI which just isn’t up to the same standard as others in this category. Trials Fusion has been with us for a while now and this fifth game in the Trails series by RedLynx has been the leading light in motorcycle racing with great replayabilty, addictive gameplay and innovative tricks and track editor. MX Nitro is a challenger for the crown and you can read Jordan Phipps review to see if there’s a new king of motorcycle racing in town. On four wheels it’s hard to look past Forza Horizon 3 for the sheer enjoyment factor, but TrackMania Turbo will not leave anyone disappointed. For those looking for a less forgiving but ultimately more rewarding racer DiRt Rally or the return to form of Codemasters with F1 2016 are well worth your consideration.
The contest between FIFA and Pro Evolution has been an epic battle and although most people become devotes of one or the other, in truth they have both outdone each other an equal number of times over the history of the series. Looking at the current manifestations of their games Pro Evolution is the clear winner with superb passing range, intelligent off-the-ball movement, volleys and the ability to score some epic looking goals. Of course the official licencing is a problem for some, as the game doesn’t have real team and player names many will feel it’s simply not realistic, but in terms of gameplay, Pro Evolution wins this round and we look forward to the fight continuing in September this year. Football Manager 2017 is worth a mention here as it continues to be the superior game for wannabe Jose Mourinho types.
If you’re expecting anything but Madden NFL 17, then you will be disappointed as this gaming franchise has held the NFL monopoly for some time now. With Madden Ultimate Team and Draft Champions, EA Sports are not resting on their laurels and offer something improved with each reiteration of the winning formula. They’ve also improved the ball-carrier feedback system with past assistance and special moves to avoid defenders and play-calling has been simplified. No one knows how long the Madden legacy will last, but right now there is only one game for NFL fans and it’s magnificent.
The best baseball games over the last few years are MBL The Show 16, MBL The Show 15, MBL The Show 14 and MBL The Show 13. Just like EA Sports and football, developers SIE San Diego Studio have cornered the market with their baseball offerings and they just keep getting better and better. There is a host of mobile baseball games that are worth your time, but nothing offers the amount of depth and player mechanics you get from The Show series. The latest offering is out at the end of March this year and the attention to detail is a pleasure to behold, with all the stadiums you know captured perfectly and all your favourite players flawlessly captured in their distinct batting stances. Only one winner here for casual players or those looking to manage everything from the hotdog stand to the global appeal of the franchise this is the smart choice to make.
There is a strange anomaly in sports games whereby Europeans play Madden, but never watch an NFL game, while American play FIFA or Pro Evolution and yet have little interest in real-life soccer and the same could be true of rugby. For rugby fans, these are exciting times with NRL season about to start and everyone looking at NRL tips from OddsChecker to gauge their teams prospects for the new season (and quite a few of us for their fantasy leagues too!). For gamers it seems that rugby might finally have a game available that can be considered on a par with other great sporting titles. With Rugby League Live 3, Big Ant Studios might at last have produced a game that does for rugby what Madden and Pro Evolution have done for football and soccer, in producing a game rugby fans and anyone else will love. There is a small problem with the lack of training and tutorials that will hopefully be rectified in the 4th instalment out in September of this year, but rugby finally has a great video game, rejoice.
Out recently and going for the title of best sports video game ever is NBA 2K17. The series has been going now for over a decade yet it still feels fresh and the control system is unrivalled. With unique game modes such as MyGM, MyTeam and MyLeague making an appearance in this latest addition to the 2K franchise developers Visual Concepts have an uncanny knack of providing enough with each instalment to make it a must-have purchase for all NBA gamers. Every year you will tell yourself that this is the best basketball game I’ve ever played and every year you will be right and that’s why the 2K series has a legitimate claim to be the best sports game ever.
Clearly we’ve missed a few sports, but these titles definitely represent the best of the bunch. We hope they’re enough to keep even the most lethargic of couch potatoes feeling like a world-class athlete.