With the current generation coming to a close – there will continue to be releases but they’ll no longer be the focus of development or marketing – it offers an opportunity to reflect on the continually shrinking sports genre and how things have developed in the last eight years. In order to find what the community determines to be the best sports game of the Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii generation is a tournament that will run over the next several weeks.
64 games were chosen to be part of the field based on a number of factors. Obviously not all of these games were great or even good but those included at the very least did something innovative that may have had some influence on the genre since. The max number of entries from a single series was limited to three.
Seeding was determined (1 vs 16, 8 vs 9, ect) however the numbering left off the brackets and ordering mixed up in order to avoid that tainting the voting in any way. Cast your vote in each pairing based on the game you got the most enjoyment out of, did the most to try and earn your money, or meant the most to the sports gaming genre.
The first region opens up for voting today. The other three will come later in the week. Continue on for the voting and feel free to leave your thoughts on the matchups and what games should advance in the comments!
Fight Night Champion vs EA Sports MMA
Taking a new approach Fight Night Champion introduced a compelling, though short, story mode in the first M-rated sports game from EA Sports. The game also featured revamped right stick controls and expanded roster. For a first attempt at MMA, EA Sports delivered a solid product that was more accessible than the competition with a decent career mode and fantastic online play including the revolutionary Fight Cards and Live Broadcast features.
NBA 2K11 vs NBA 09: The Inside
It was 2K11 that launched the series to a level that some believed wasn’t possible for a basketball game in terms of consumer reception and sales with the featuring of Michael Jordan. New “The Jordan Challenge” mode, “Creating a Legend” mode, and historic teams were big winners. While The Inside didn’t sell what it did do was focus on the off-the-court aspect of being a basketball player with “The Life” before career or story modes in them would take off. The NBA 2K series introduced MyPlayer a year later.
PES 2007 vs NBA 2K12
This PES release was the last one before many felt the FIFA series overtook it in quality. NBA 2K12 continued to build on the success of 2K11 with “NBA’s Greatest” mode, more historic teams, and improved commentary.
NHL 09 vs 2006 FIFA World Cup
Introduced in NHL 09 was the incredibly fun and popular EA Sports Hockey League which was coupled with excellent online performance. Released about six months into the generation World Cup was able to impress in a way that most sports games early on did not.
The BIGS 2 vs NCAA Basketball 09
While the formula didn’t change up much from the original, The BIGS 2 was the best baseball product available on the Xbox 360 at the time with high fun factor and strategical involvement along with a better career mode. NCAA put a focus on making teams play like their real-life counterparts by differentiating their styles. It also featured 64 classic teams which led to Ed O’Bannon’s lawsuit that would ultimately bring an end to college video games.
Madden NFL 10 vs Kinect Sports
In what was the most encouraging Madden release in years for the “sim” crowd the game focused on presentation, gameplay, and authenticity. It may have actually peaked this gen in realism and graphics with this release. Introduced was the Pro-Tak animation system and Online Franchise. First impressions of Kinect were fairly encouraging as it pertained to Kinect Sports which was quite fun and offered free DLC. Table Tennis was the best of the bunch of activities offered and online play made it even more enjoyable.
Backbreaker vs NBA Street Homecourt
While fatally troubled as a football game Backbreaker brought physics to the forefront of discussion and pushed EA Sports to incorporate their own physics systems in the years since. Homecourt was the last in the NBA Street series and introduced some advanced technology that ended up being integrated in other sports games.
Madden Arcade vs NCAA Football 14
As a $15 XBLA/PSN release Madden Arcade exceeded some expectations with balance between offense and defense and enjoyable head-to-head play. NCAA Football 14, which it turns out will be the last entry in the series, improved significantly in gameplay and Dynasty mode while bringing in a surprisingly intriguing Ultimate Team mode.