THE 12 BEST SPORTS GAMES OF ALL TIME
Do you feel like putting on crampons, hitting snow-covered slopes or doing aces? The sports halls are still closed, walk through the biggest virtual stadiums to work out!
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Simulations of football, tennis, snowboarding, basketball, the Olympic Games: video games with a sport theme are numerous and varied. Some specialists would even agree to say that the first video game in history would even be, in fact, a sports game – in this case, Tennis for Two, released in 1958. It was being played at the time. through an oscilloscope and a dedicated electronic circuit.
Some franchises, antediluvian, are still present in the market today. Large publishers, with sports license rights (FIFA, NBA, NFL, etc.), such as Electronic Arts, continue to design and develop sports video games selling several million copies each year around the world. .
Just like our selections of the best FPS or the must-have real-time strategy or car games here we are focused on compiling a list of 50 games or franchises that have marked our minds. Note, however, that even if we have endeavored to represent a maximum of sports disciplines, series and games, this list remains entirely subjective. As always in this kind of exercise, we invite you to share the games that we could not mention and that are important to you.
1080º Snowboarding (1998)
Little exploited, the genre of snowboarding has at least the chance to be worthily represented by 1080 ° Snowboarding, a title which has made the joy of all Nintendo 64 owners. Today, its graphics are logically very dated, but to at the time, they impressed a lot of people. The competitions on offer, the challenge of keeping the right direction and mastering your snowboard, were all particularly successful. However, we will especially remember the frenzied games with four players thanks to the split-screen mode of which the Nintendo 64 had the secret.
Aggressive Inline (2002)
Aggressive Inline is a little gem that has often been seen as a serious competitor to Tony Hawk Pro Skater. It was even the first to integrate some key features, such as a mode that allows you to play freely, without being limited by a stopwatch. His combo system of linking tricks was also very successful. He did not however give birth to a series and ultimately remains little known.
Released on the Atari VCS / Atari 2600, Basketball is widely regarded as the first real basketball game… although “real” is perhaps a bit of a stretch. Difficult of course to speak of simulation given the coarseness of the line. The game was popularized by the movie “Is There a Pilot in the Plane?” “: We see air traffic controllers in full swing instead of working on their task. Basketball features two players whose movements and possibilities remain very limited.
Blood Bowl (2009), Blood Bowl 2 (2015)
Adaptations of the game of the species of American football imagined by Games Workshop for the Warhammer universe, there have been several. As successful as the Cyanide attempt in 2009, much less. Blood Bowl did manage to retain most of the gameplay of the board game by incorporating the rules, but avoiding the heaviness inherent in the roll of the dice. Better still, six years later, Cyanide put the cover back with an even more successful Blood Bowl 2. First of all aesthetically, the result is much better, but also in the gameplay, with better integration of the rules and a very attractive campaign mode. Only complaint: additional races integrated via DLC, paying of course. A third opus is planned and should be released soon, in August 2021. It should integrate 12 different teams, each with their own style of play.
Burnout (2001), Burnout 2: Point of Impact (2002), Burnout 3: Takedown (2004), Burnout Legends (2005), Burnout Revenge (2005), Burnout Dominator (2007), Burnout Paradise (2008), Burnout Crash! (2011), Burnout Paradise Remastered (2018)
The Burnout saga easily falls into the favorite category. Strictly speaking, this is no more of a simulation than the previous game in our selection, Blood Bowl. It abandons realism in favor of a very entertaining gameplay which consists of embarking on varied tracks at insane speeds and too bad if you hit other cars in the process! First released on PS2 and Xbox, the franchise then conquered other platforms and even made a few forays into handheld consoles. Burnout Paradise Remastered is the latest opus. This is of course to bring the most significant episode of the series up to date while making some gameplay optimizations.
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Colin McRae Rally
Colin McRae Rally (1998), Colin McRae Rally 2.0 (2000), Colin McRae Rally 3 (2002), Colin McRae Rally 04 (2003), Colin McRae Rally 2005 (2004), Colin McRae: DiRT (2007), Colin McRae: DiRT 2 (2009), DiRT 3 (2011), DiRT Showdown (2012), Colin McRae Rally (2013), DiRT Rally (2015), DiRT 4 (2017), DiRT Rally 2.0 (2019), DiRT 5 (2020)
No need to present this series of rally games which remains the reference for many players. Initiated in 1998 when the racing driver was at the peak of his art, the series is now known as DiRT following the death of Colin McRae. The first opus was somewhat successful, but it was with the second episode that the series was considered a benchmark: it particularly stood out for its relatively minimalist approach to menus, interface. An orientation that the developers have kept until the last opus, DiRT 4. Technically very impressive, it offers races with quite remarkable realism. Equally successful, the latest installment, DiRT Rally 2.0, puts even more emphasis on the simulation aspect. This is also the first episode not to be directed by Paul Coleman, the creator of the saga. The latest installment, DiRT 5, released in October 2020, adds extensive management of weather, seasons and day / night cycle, all dynamically with possible evolution during a race. This episode also incorporates a local multiplayer game mode, in split screen for up to four players.
Cool Boarders (1996), Cool Boarders 2 (1997), Cool Boarders 3 (1998), Cool Boarders 4 (1999)
The early days of Cool Boarders were very interesting. The game was realistic, the races fascinating, and the gameplay simple, yet fun. He laid the foundations for many extreme sports games and gave birth to a real saga that became a reference in the world of snowboard simulations. The second and third installments are more or less at the level of the first episode with some improvements but also surprising regressions. Over time, the franchise has lost its appeal and the Cool Boarders 4, released in 1999, is the latest attempt to relaunch by the studio Idol Minds.
Dance Central (2010), Dance Central 2 (2011), Dance Central 3 (2012), Dance Central Spotlight (2014)
Directly following on from rhythm games with instruments, “dance” games appeared – first in Asia – in the early 2000s. It was not until a few years that they achieved some success in Europe with three major franchises. Dance Central is one of the best known, developed by one of the foremost studios in the world of music games, Harmonix. It was distinguished by the exclusivity signed with Microsoft and the operation of the Kinect device. The two suites were also somewhat successful. On the other hand, the release of Dance Central Spotlight in 2014 on Xbox One marks the end of the series: by withdrawing the Kinect compatibility – logical given the passage to a new generation of console – Harmonix lost a good part of the specificity of the title.
From F1 2009 (2009) to F1 2020 (2020), with one opus per year
Formerly in the hands of Sony, the official license of Formula 1 has since 2009 been held by Codemasters. This allows him to use official brands, circuits and cars. While some criticize some deviations from realism, it is reasonable to say that the British publisher is making good use of this license. The first opus, F1 2009, was praised for the quality of its simulation which then progressed steadily, year after year. F1 2010 notably introduced an excellent weather management system. Some players have also criticized the consistency of Codemasters: rather than offering one episode per year, the publisher could effectively bundle innovations for biennial, richer opuses. This is not the case and the F1 2019 episode – although of excellent quality – does not change much compared to F1 2018. F1 2020 integrates many improvements and a more advanced game system, expected since years, to the delight of F1 enthusiasts. This opus also supports one or two players, in split screen. Episode 2021 is already on the starting line, and it plans to integrate ray-tracing for July 21.
Formula One Grand Prix
Formula One Grand Prix (1992), Grand Prix 2 (1996), Grand Prix 3 (2000), Grand Prix 4 (2002)
Formula 1 games really took off when they started to look realistic and provide a unique experience. This is the case with Formula One Grand Prix which is considered to be the first simulator of its kind on PC. Conceived by Geoff Crammond, it gave birth to a true franchise known and recognized as the most complete, the most realistic and the most interesting. With time and versions, however, the competition became more and more fierce. Grand Prix 4 was still very successful and remains a benchmark for many players. The historian of the video game will remember above all that this is the last game of the illustrious creator.
FIFA International Soccer (1993), FIFA 95 (1994) and one opus per year until FIFA 21 (2020)
A landmark in sports video games, the FIFA franchise is not only the oldest, but also the most successful year after year. Inaugurated in 1993 with FIFA International Soccer, it was then in axonometric view and marked a notable change from other football games that were in side or top view. FIFA 96 changed direction again with a widely acclaimed switch to 3D. Over the years, FIFA then evolved into an ever more televisual rendering. A story mode was introduced with FIFA 17. Finally, proof of the opening of the game to the Chinese market, FIFA 19 is the first to join the Chinese Super League.
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