2016 Pastapadre Community Awards Voting Coming to a Close Soon

Posted January 14th, 2017 at 11:00 am

The polls in the annual Pastapadre Community Awards will be closing on Monday morning. The 12 categories for 2016 have been open now for a number of weeks and collected tens of thousands of votes in the process yet there are still some too close to call.

2016 was a strong stretch for the sports gaming genre but unlike recent years there was no one game that appeared to be the standout. Each game had its share of highs and lows and that’s represented in the nomination distribution. NBA 2K17 and Madden NFL 17 lead the way with 7 nominations each followed by the 5 nominations collected by MLB The Show 16. 

Best Sports Game of 2016

Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 was able to overcome any licensing shortcomings thanks to its fantastic gameplay which addressed its few flaws of the previous year. MLB The Show 16 continued to build on gameplay and visual strengths while further expanding the appeal of Diamond Dynasty and in doing so remained the most steady sports gaming franchise in existence today. NBA 2K17 adapted to the changing landscape of the league while also offering the most content found in any sports game helped by its two great franchise modes and compelling story mode. Madden NFL 17 finally leveraged some of the most exciting plays in football by making special teams matter and mostly avoided gimmicks in favor of addressing long-running areas of deficiency in the series. FIFA 17 offered a well-rounded product through extensive licensing and several different ways to play including the new story mode, excellent online features and performance, along with accessible gameplay.

Best New/Non-Yearly Game

Casey Powell Lacrosse 16 was a pleasant surprise, with accessible and fun gameplay, Career Mode playable as both ‘Coach’ and ‘Player,’ and a well-designed sharing system with community created files that can deliver the real 67 college and 9 MLL teams. EA Sports UFC 2 improved on the deficiencies of the first series effort by EA Sports, providing an immensely more satisfying gameplay experience with a deep roster of fighters. Steep was the best of the mountain sports games in 2016 offering greater variety by featuring snowboarding, skiing, wingsuit flying, and paragliding.

Best Racing Game

It was such a great year for racing games that this category makes its debut. Forza Horizon 3 straddles the line between sim and arcade and provided great variety of racing through it’s various event types and the setting of Australia. Similarly, DiRT Rally has arcade elements but leans sim, and while it’s limited to rally racing the number of stages and various weather effects made each run thrilling. Then there’s F1 2016, which pleased with its ultra-sim and authentic nature along with an expansive Career Mode.

Best Mobile Game

Three candidates demonstrate different models for how mobile games can be successful. Photo Finish Horse Racing offered a compelling structure involving not just the racing but also management in the form of training horses within current levels and breeding them in order to move up to higher levels of competition. NBA Live Mobile is based on Ultimate Team – building squads up by earning XP to buy packs or players through completing gameplay challenges or buying packs with real money. MLB Manager 2016 is the slimmed-down mobile version of Out of the Park Baseball 17 offering the same complete league licensing and simulation engine.

Best New Feature

Madden NFL 17 debuted weekly commentary updates from the new broadcasting duo of Brandon Gaudin and Charles Davis. NBA 2K17 added two new Franchise features with the ability to expand leagues to as many as 36 teams and begin a new MyLeague campaign with the current day’s standings and statistics. EA Sports UFC 2 showcased its ‘Knockout Physics System’ through its new KO Mode. MLB The Show 16 made Diamond Dynasty a mode for everyone thanks to the daily ratings fluctuations provided by Inside Edge.

Best Post-Release Support

Madden NFL 17 has continued the trend of the franchise offering more than any other sports games post-release, whether that be adding features and new ways to play the game, consistent Ultimate Team content, weekly roster updates, and now even weekly commentary updates. EA Sports UFC 2 began with a huge roster of fighters but 12 more were still added to the game in the months that followed release and new features for Ultimate Team were added. Rocket League added a mode with power-ups, new arenas and more vehicles, however its biggest move was to introduce a very fun basketball variant, which joined the standard soccer base that makes up the game and the hockey variant that was added in late 2015.

Best Gameplay

This category has been dominated by NBA 2K with the series coming off four consecutive wins. Its standing appears more shaky this year however which could provide the opening needed for Pro Evolution Soccer or MLB The Show to finally break through. All three candidates are well-regarded for their authentic gameplay and attention to detail.

Best Career/Story Mode

NBA 2K17 brought in a new writer/director and big star in Michael B. Jordan, while introducing the “dynamic duo” concept when teamed with the user’s created player. FIFA 17 offered up its first true Story Mode with “The Journey” which was well-received for its grounded story and dialogue along with respectable acting performances. MLB The Show 16 still provides one of the best pure single-player careers despite lacking the interactive story elements of its rivals.

Best Team-Building Mode

MLB The Show’s Diamond Dynasty mode grew even more compelling with the addition of a “draft mode” in Battle Royale, the single-player Conquest mode, the daily Inside Edge ratings adjustments, and new types of cards and Missions. Madden NFL 17 has continued to provide an immense amount of content in its Ultimate Team mode, with new programs rolling out regularly that make it possible to build a competitive roster without being forced to spend money. Ultimate Team in FIFA 17 introduced Squad Building Challenges making use of lower rated cards and FUT Champions for weekly competitions.

Best Franchise Mode

NBA 2K17 looks to make it a three-peat with the offline MyLeague and online MyGM both contributing as unique franchise experiences. The big additions were ‘Start Today’ for MyLeague and expansion abilities for both. Madden NFL 17’s Franchise Mode offered a revamped SuperSim called ‘Play The Moments,’ introduced ‘Big Decisions,’ redesigned the game planning, and is still by far the best Online Franchise experience in the sports gaming genre. FIFA 17 brought in new goals in the form of board expectations, updated the mode’s financial system, added 11 real-life managers, and offered even more licensed leagues.

Best Presentation

The NBA 2K series has never lost in this category and NBA 2K17 presents another strong case in having introduced a rotating set of announcers and sideline reporters. There are now a total of 11 personalities actively contributing to the series during games and for the studio show. The shift to the Frostbite Engine for FIFA 17 brought with it considerable graphical enhancements while Madden NFL 17 has earned the first nomination for the series in the category with a brand new commentary team and additions like the Pylon Cam.

Best Online Play

It’s no surprise that EA Sports has dominated this category in the past and again has strong candidates from 2016 but a new challenger has emerged. Madden NFL 17 offered one of the most consistent experiences in terms of online performance and different ways to play with regular Head-to-Head, Draft Champions, Ultimate Team, Salary Cap Ranked, and Online Events. Madden also features by far the best Online Franchise experience in the genre. The FIFA series has always been great online, an especially impressive feat considering its huge user base which is spread across the globe. As an online-based game Rocket League had to be great to be successful and it has been all the way into its second year.