Most people will never experience the thrill of running 50 yards down a field holding a misshapen ball in front of a 40,000 person crowd or driving a car through a hairpin turn at 130 mph. The skill required to compete in professional sports is simply incredibly rare. For those not lucky or dedicated enough to be professional athletes, modern sports video games provide a remarkably accurate and realistic substitute for the real thing. Among a huge field of sports games, a select few truly stood out as the best of the best.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 (Wii) – Due to Tiger’s Wood recent scandal, it is very likely that this will be the last video game with his name on it for quite some time. Tiger Wood PGA Tour 10 lets the player play as one of twenty three different golf pros on one of twenty seven unique, realistic, and gorgeously rendered golf courses. As expected with a Wii title, the game is controlled by swinging the motion sensitive Wii remote and due to Wii MotionPlus compatibility, the controls are precise and tight.
Madden NFL 10 (PS3, 360) – This is the 21st installment in the Madden NFL series and this game continues to prove why the Madden NFL series is the best football video game series on the market. This installment utilizes many new and improved features, including PRO-TAK animation technology, an enhanced fight for the fumble system, improved ratings system, the ability to design your own plays, and a new injury system, just for starters. In addition, player statistics are updated weekly based on real life play and injuries, keeping online play as realistic as possible.
ExciteBots: Trick Racing (Wii) – ExciteBots is the spiritual sequel to the Wii release game Excite Truck. Sporting nearly identical control scheme and graphics, ExciteBots adds a host of new features and introduces a new race theme. Instead of trucks, the race is run by animal themed robotic morphing vehicles. Like in Excite Truck, winning the race is only half the excitement of the game, progressing to later tracks requires not only speed, but completing a large number of difficult and dangerous tricks while racing through the track. In addition to the large cache of new items strewn around the track, ExciteBots also adds online multiplayer action for up to 6 players.
UFC Undisputed (PS3, 360) – In previous generations, wrestling games were among the best of the sports games. The popularity of the UFC has changed that dynamic completely. UFC Undisputed allows for realistic mixed martial arts game play where the player controls one of over 50 unique and real-life UFC fighters. The ability to play as different fighters who each have mastered different fighting styles gives the game significant single player replay value. In addition, like any good sports game on the market, UFC has well supported online multiplayer play.
FIFA 10 (PS3, 360) – While one of the least popular professional sports in the U.S., soccer is one of the most popular professional sports in the rest of the world. According to EA, FIFA 10 was the fastest selling sports game in Europe ever, selling nearly 2 million copies in the first week alone. Game play is still just as smooth and responsive as the previous best selling installments of this series, while the season manager system has been greatly improved. FIFA 10’s win of the GameSpot Sports Game of 2020 award simply highlights the obvious quality in this amazing game.
Forza Motorsport 3 (360) – In 2009, Forza Motorsport 3 has stolen the title of best realistic racing simulator from the perennial winner, Gran Turismo. Unlike many racing games on the market, there are no power ups, no jumps, no tricks, and no weapons in this game. It is simply a well balanced, beautifully rendered racing simulator for over 400 customizable real world cars on over 100 unique tracks. With literally millions of possible racing variations, single player season mode is a unique experience every time and the multiplayer mode takes advantage of the full potential of Xbox Live. With exquisite graphics, extremely tight game play, and almost infinite customization ability, this game is the new standard in racing games.
Sports games have almost always been niche games, because the fans of sports games are necessarily those who enjoy the sport but can’t play it for some reason or another. With modern graphics and motion sensing technology, sports games have increasingly become main stream, with the best sports games selling millions of copies. Whether the technological improvements have started to reach their limit or whether there is still room for improvement is yet to be seen, but either way it is clear that sports games are just as popular, if not more so, as in any previous point in history.