Sports and video games have always been closely linked. There are several parallels that one can draw between the two. Fans are attracted to them because of their entertaining nature. Of course, sports translate well into the video game realm and have evolved into their genre.
Sports games often have a bad reputation for their microtransactions. Since it is a very lucrative genre that attracts many players, developers often try to monetize it. However, over the years, several sports games have transcended the genre’s usual shortcomings.
Sports video games boomed in the 2000s with some titles setting the benchmark
1) Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
Tony Hawk is one of the most recognizable names in the sports world. The skateboarding legend made millions during his active career as a competitor and continues to capitalize on his fame with royalties from games like this one.
The first game of the series was a hit with fans, who praised it for its variety of in-game modes and level design. Developed by Neversoft and released in 2002 by Activision, the second game improves on all aspects of the first.
It is one of the highest rated video games of all time. With detailed player customization, career mode, additional maps and objectives, and an all-new map editor, the game is a top performer in the sports game gallery.
Platforms: PlayStation, Xbox, Windows, Mac OS, Game Boy Color, Dreamcast, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Advance, iOS
2) FIFA 09
The FIFA series is one of the longest-running franchises in the sports gaming genre. It owes its success to the popularity of football, the most watched sport in the world.
Developed by EA Sports, FIFA has always been criticized for its greedy microtransactions and annual releases, despite minor game design changes. However, FIFA 09 is almost unanimously regarded as one of the best titles of the series.
The game offers new features in career mode and seasons as well as improved gameplay mechanics. The Ultimate Team mode was also introduced, providing a unique and enjoyable experience that has since turned into EA’s main cash cow.
Platform: PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, Xbox 360, Wii, Windows, Nintendo DS
3) Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004
Like the Tony Hawk series, the PGA Tour video games use Tiger Woods’ star power to market their product. Released by EA in 2003, PGA Tour 2004 is considered the best game in the series.
The stylish presentation of gameplay and menus, detailed character creation and career mode and the iconic soundtrack with Outkast made the game a special experience.
This game is a trip down memory lane for fans of both the PGA Tour video games and golf.
Platforms: PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, Windows, Game Boy Advanced
4) Wii Sports
Wii Sports, released by Nintendo in 2006, is possibly the most immersive sports experience available in video games.
This is a unique item on this list as it is not a simulation based game. However, it is a genre-redefining title that has provided players of all ages with countless hours of fun.
Wii Sports is designed to showcase the motion detection capabilities of the Wii Remote. The game includes tennis, bowling, baseball, golf and boxing. It was a critical and commercial success as it attracted gamers and non-gamers alike.
5) NBA Street Vol 2
NBA Street Vol 2 builds on the success of its predecessor and captures the essence of a true arcade-style street basketball experience.
The game was released in 2003 by EA Sports and received widespread critical acclaim. In the 3-on-3 showdown, players can build squads made up of fictional street legends and real-life NBA stars.
The progression system rewards the players with XP, which they can use to buy jerseys, players and jobs. The “gamebreaker” moves add a flashy dynamic element to the game, giving it a more arcade-like feel.
Platforms: PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube
Just like sports games, racing games also attract fans from all walks of life
1) Burnout 3: Takedown
Burnout video games are a favorite among fans of the genre. It offers the perfect blend of fast paced thrills and carnage to create the perfect racing experience.
Burnout 3: Takedown was developed by Criterion games and released by EA in 2004. The game features a new takedown mechanic, in which players collide with rival racers to start spectacular crash scenes. Takedowns provide a new entertaining dynamic and fill the player’s boost meter.
The aggressive approach to the racing genre and visual treat made it a fan classic.
Platforms: Playstation 2, Xbox
2) Gran Turismo 3: A Spec
The Gran Turismo series is one of the genre’s most popular and successful franchises. Gran Turismo 3, released in 2001, was a huge commercial and critical success, becoming one of the best-selling video games of all time.
It emphasizes realism and provides the most accurate simulation possible. Races range from short sprint laps to multi-hour endurance races, providing an extremely realistic experience.
The game received universal acclaim for its impressive graphics, immersive controls, and variety of tracks and cars.
Platform: Playstation 2
3) Need for speed: undercover
Need for Speed is the most recognizable name in the genre. The series focuses on illegal racetracks in multiple locations worldwide and has been a huge commercial success.
Need for Speed: Undercover was released in 2008 by EA. The game focuses equally on the gameplay and story aspects. Players take on the role of an undercover cop who infiltrates an underground racing syndicate.
It was the first game in the series to feature an open world, a feature that has been part of all Need for Speed video games ever since. The open world includes police vehicles, leading to high-octane car chases. This feature has been praised by players and has since become a staple of the series.
Platforms: PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, Xbox 360, Windows, iOS, Wii
4) Forza Motorsport 2
The Forza franchise is one of the most beloved series in the racing genre. It has been around since 2005, with a total of fourteen video games released to date.
Forza Motorsport 2 was released in 2007 as an Xbox exclusive. It drastically improves on the features of its predecessor, which was already a fan favorite. It includes more than three hundred cars and more than twenty unique circuits worldwide.
With sharp graphics, realistic controls and a wide variety of cars, the game rivaled the throne taken by Gran Turismo as the ultimate driving simulator.
Platforms: Xbox 360
5) Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition
The Midnight Club series is a dark horse in the racing video game genre. It has an open world that offers a distinct atmosphere unlike other games.
Midnight Club 3 was released in 2005 by Rockstar Games and is the first game in the series, which consists of licensed and customizable cars and tracks. The game emphasizes entertainment over realism and allows players to perform gravity-defying stunts in their vehicles.
The open world featured in the game is also full of NPCs that can be challenged to a race. With both a storyline and a multiplayer mode, Midnight Club 3 offers the most unique and refreshing street racing experience.
Platforms: PlayStation2, PlayStation Portable, Xbox
Note: This article reflects the opinion of the writer.