For those that remember playing on the Atari 2600 or Commodore 64, it blows the mind to think just how far the gaming industry has come in such a short time. Today, games achieve once undreamed of levels of realism, and perhaps this is most readily apparent in the segment of the market catering to the sports fan. However, realism isn’t always the hallmark of a great sports video game, as you’ll see as you take a journey through our picks for the top 8 best sports games ever.
8. Madden 2005
In terms of financial success, the Madden franchise is the greatest sports video game series ever made, but we had a tough time placing it any higher since it has limited appeal outside of North America. Why did we choose the 2005 edition out of the many available? Because 2005 included all of the great innovations we now take for granted.
7. NBA Street Vol. 2
Many people would argue that NBA Jam should be here instead, but those would just be the old farts that can’t let go of the past. Street took NBA Jam and made it cool for a whole new generation.
6. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003
Just as Tiger Woods helped to give the sport broader appeal, the 2003 edition of PGA Tour made golf video games available to entire new segments of the gaming field. People who wouldn’t be caught dead on the links were trashing talking and teeing off with Tiger.
5. World Soccer Winning Eleven 7 International
There are many great football titles to choose from, and reducing them to a single best is no easy task. In the end, we chose this one because it was revolutionary at the time of its release. Many football fans think FIFA, but EA owes a great deal of gratitude to this Konami product.
4. MLB 09: The Show
Unlike the Madden series, games geared around America’s other pastime sell extremely well outside of North America. MLB 09: The Show stands apart because it is still the standard for realism in a baseball game, and realism is king in baseball video games.
3. NHL ’94
You knew that there had to be a hockey game in the list somewhere, but did you expect it to be a mid-90s entry? Maybe not, but when it comes to hockey video games, we think fun trumps graphics. This is the most enjoyable hockey game ever assembled.
2. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
There was a time when many of us wouldn’t even consider skateboarding a sport, but that has all changed. THPS2 is not only the greatest skateboarding game ever made, it revolutionized sports games in general with its fluid animation.
When one sits down to create a list of the greatest sports video games ever made, one might as well start by pencilling in Punch-Out in the number one slot. No video game has ever captured the worldwide imagination quite the way this one did.
Well, there you have them, the top 8 best games ever according to us. We’re sure you disagree with at least a few. Where would the fun be if you didn’t?