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.
This is the final region to open for the first round. Make sure to cast your votes for Region A, Region B, and Region C as well. Continue on for the voting and feel free to leave your thoughts on the matchups and what games should advance in the comments!
NBA Live 09 vs NHL 13
NBA Live 09 had a few innovative ideas that would extend through the series and into other games. NBA Live 365 and Dynamic DNA utilizing Synergy data meant rosters were updated daily affecting not just ratings but player movement, additions, and tendencies. NBA Rewind allowed for playing any game on the schedule even after it had been completed in real life using the rosters and ratings accurate to that time. Harmed by the league lockout NHL 13 was still another solid release for the series. New was GM Connected mode, the skating engine, and improved AI.
College Hoops 2K8 vs Sports Champions
The final entry in the College Hoops 2K series was highly regarded at the time and the fondness for it has even grown since. As “sim” if not more so than its college basketball competition and NBA counterparts, 2K8 made the crowd have an effect on the games and its franchise mode was excellent. Like Kinect Sports was for Microsoft, Sports Champions was a strong first effort with the PlayStation Move before consumers gave up caring about motion controls.
The BIGS vs Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10
The first attempt at an arcade MLB game from 2K Sports after securing the exclusive third party license was a winner. Exceptionally fun, well-balanced, and incorporating legitimate strategy The BIGS also featured a decent career mode, co-op play, and neat Home Run Pinball mini-game. Tiger Woods 10 peaked in sales and quality particularly for the Wii (Wii Motion Plus, Disc Golf) this year – it was the last release before his scandal broke and killed sales on that system. The game featured the US Open for the first time, dynamic weather, and online Live Tournaments.
NCAA Basketball 10 vs Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14
The last college basketball game to be released, and likely to have that label for a long time, NCAA Basketball 10 featured two different commentary teams and presentation packages (CBS and ESPN). Tiger Woods 14 featured a historic “Legends of the Majors” mode, brought in the LPGA, introduced a new “Swing Style” feature and “simulation” difficulty, added night golf, and improved the online Country Clubs and Live Tournaments.
FIFA 13 vs NBA Jam: On Fire Edition
Refined physics, new Skill Games, and “Match Day” were the big changes introduced in FIFA 13 that helped avoid a letdown after an excellent previous iteration. Kinect integration debuted and was probably the best use of it out of all the sim sports games that have attempted to do so. The downloadable NBA Jam: On Fire Edition came shortly after the return of NBA Jam as a retail product bringing back features omitted from that one along with improved AI.
All-Pro Football 2K8 vs MLB Power Pros
Despite not having a franchise mode All-Pro Football 2K8 is fondly remembered. The unlicensed game secured an impressive roster of legends to shape teams with and excelled in gameplay, graphics, and online play. Despite the cartoony look MLB Power Pros for the Wii could have been considered the most “sim” baseball game on the market.
MLB 13: The Show vs NFL Blitz
MLB 13 offered up excellent gameplay, authenticity, and graphics – those things that have been staples of the series for the whole generation. For the first time though it was a complete product by finally bringing the online experience up to par. Opening the timing window at the plate helped to make the game more fun without sacrificing realism and the new Postseason mode was excellent. The NFL Blitz reboot from EA Sports offered value due to its $15 price tag as a digital download but was diluted due to the NFL’s overly restrictive nature.
MLB 11: The Show vs NFL Head Coach 09
MLB 11 offered up excellent gameplay, authenticity, and graphics – those things that have been staples of the series for the whole generation. Bouncing back from a somewhat disappointing release, the game introduced right stick controls in an effort to freshen things up and improved on Road to the Show mode by making progression and rewards based on performance rather than goals. NFL Head Coach 09 was the second and final entry in the series and the only one to land on the 360 and PS3. New features included a play creator and live auction-like events. Many elements of Head Coach would make their way into Madden’s franchise modes later.