Brady Stark | Contributor
As winter grabs us with its icy hand, we are forced to stay indoors more often than usual and we can turn to our favourite pastime: video games. Here are my top ten sports games of all-time.
10) MLB the Show: As far as over the top games go, MLB the Show does a marvellous job at giving you the feel of a normal baseball game, but cranks up the intensity by making any epic play larger than life. You can be David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox and smash a home run over the fence and into the San Francisco harbor in super slow motion and with fireworks lighting up the sky. If you are on the defensive side of the ball, you can leap twice as high as physically possible. This game is for those who just want to see baseball played at its most extreme.
9) NBA Live Jam: Speaking of over-the-top games, with NBA Jam you can literally be on fire if you go on a good enough streak. Playing two-on-two basketball, you try and use a balance of timing and super dunks in order to get the upper hand. Considering this game is almost a decade old, you can play with some NBA legends and have a ball trying to dunk over your friends. Probably the most under appreciated aspect of this game is the fantastic play-by-play.
8) Bo Jackson’s Football and Baseball: This original Game Boy game gives you two for the price of one as famous athlete made his mark on two different sports and was immortalized in this 1990 game. On the baseball side of the game, you were the pitcher and batters for your team. If you wanted to really make the game easy for yourself, all you would have to do is throw a fastball in the upper right corner of the pitching box and have the batters miss every time. On the batting side of the ball, timing is your only nemesis due to not many options for the pitchers being available. As long as you wait for the change-up, you should be ok. On the football side of the game, you are playing with little better than different stick figures but it is the first Game Boy game in which you can call your own plays and see what kind of football bench boss you really are.
7) NHL 2008: The reason that this NHL is on the list is because it is the biggest example of a homer game that any hockey lover could come across. 2007 was the last year of of Naslund, Bertuzzi, and Morrison lighting up the lamp despite the Canucks not getting anywhere near the Stanley Cup. Yes, the West Coast Express line was dominant, but were they all worthy of mid 90’s to late 80’s stats? EA Sports HQ is in the beautiful city of Vancouver (well, Burnaby), and they are privileged to be able to see the Canucks in their backyard. Due to their proximity to the Canucks, players get the benefit of some favorable rankings, but none was more obvious than NHL 2008. It’s the little additions and comical player rankings that make NHL 2008 so great.
6) NHL 2002: Despite the graphics being on a lower level than that of 2008, NHL 2002 was more revolutionary. For the first time you could actually tell that the player you were playing with was not just a generic face, but actually resembled the your favourite stars. The gameplay was more fluid than years past, and trading players got an upgrade as you actually had a menu for proper trades rather than just swapping players via roster moves. Playing with the likes of Sakic and Iginla when you can actually tell that it is them was a great feeling as a hockey fan growing up.
5) Tiger Woods Golf: Tiger Woods Golf was the very first realistic golf game for any console. The fact that you have to be able to swing your joystick in the right direction in order to make a clean shot, makes this game worlds better than its predecessors. The putting in Tiger Woods has basically revolutionized the video game golfing experience due to its accurate depiction of the putting greens of each of its PGA courses. With previous games, the player would get to the putting green and just have to judge the right distance to the ball, now you have to make sure that the distance as well as the angle is right before taking the shot makes the game much harder, not to mention, make Tiger Woods Golf the best line of golf games ever created.
4) Madden 13: The Madden franchise is synonymous with the NFL and how new generations of fans connect with the game. Whenever playing Madden, you always had a good idea of who you had on your team because of the roster names and so on, but Madden 13 really took the time to make sure that the style of each of the star athletes was properly represented. The gameplay in Madden 13 was significantly improved as the player had a plethora of playing options that were not available in previous games. Having the coaches challenge and other in-game options makes the gamer feel closer to the action than ever before. The only issue that I have with the Madden franchise is, why can they not acquire the rights to the CFL and make it another league that you can play in like FIFA or NHL?
3) WWE All-Stars: Despite not being the biggest fake wrestling fan, WWE All-Stars has got to be one of the most fun games that one could ever play. When you are tired of the same old wrestling game where the superstars somewhat resemble who they are supposed to when the action starts, you want to reach for something a little more ridiculous. WWE All-Stars gives you all of your favorite past and present wrestlers and then makes then to insane proportions. Everything in this game is blown way out of scale, from the extra muscle mass put on the characters to gravity defying wrestling moves. Imagine being The Rock, instead of lifting your opponent a couple of feet off the ground for a Rock Bottom, you jump 20 feet into the air and throw your opponent down. WWE All- Stars is the wrestling trip of a lifetime.
2) FIFA 14: FIFA ended up knocking it out of the park in 2014 with its innovative gameplay and out of this world graphics. FIFA 14 was the first in its franchise to really utilize the right analogue stick to its fullest potential. Now, when trying to deke around opponents in a tight space, the players can now do the fancy footwork that stars like Messi and Ronaldo are famous for. Previously, if you wanted to get around someone in the game, one would turn the players’ whole body and bull rush the defenders and hope to get the ball past them. Another innovation is the feature that when passing the ball, the player has to be facing the right direction instead of pressing the pass button before kicking the ball away. Lastly, the graphics are miles above previous FIFA games as the likenesses of the players are sharper than ever before and the fans in the stadiums were not all just one dimensional. The pitch and surrounding environment have all been upgraded to give the gamer the most realistic experience of any sports games.
1) NHL 94: Probably the most classic game for any Canadian sports gamer. NHL 94 ushered in the new era of hockey games with graphics that are now laughable, but in 1994 you could finally see the difference between each team and which player was which. No longer were you just playing with “Forward 1”, you were playing with the likes of Gretzky, Sakic, and the silver fox himself, Trevor Linden. NHL 94 instituted hockey’s actual rules: Icing, offside, tripping, roughing, etc. Finally a hockey game where you actually felt like you were playing with your favorite team. Not only was it a gem in its time, NHL has remained rather timeless as hockey fans will still play the game if they want a blast from the past. NHL 94 will forever be the game that launched the NHL gaming franchise into the beautiful game that it is today. Now excuse me while I trade Derek Dorsett for Connor McDavid.