Sports game franchises come and go.
Some of the biggest titles on the planet continue to innovate, and while there are a lot of mobile games that give a bit of fun during your downtime, it can be hard to choose an AAA or truly innovative underdog title.
Here are a few sports games that bring the best of the industry, either through top notch polish of known, good ideas or innovative spins on gameplay.
American Football Games
The Madden franchise has dominated football for almost a decade now. With titles like GameDay and Tecmo Bowl either bought out or idled out of existence, it’s more about picking how you want to play Madden.
As of Madden 19, you can go head-to-head against other players on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One.
The only cross-play options available are between PC and PS4 servers. The PC version is run by EA’s Origin servers, while Xbox One has its own servers.
This means that you’ll need to figure out which console your friends are playing if you want to join up.
Looking to EA sport games for PC is another option if you want to stick to a single company, although you may want to keep physical copies of games in case digital licenses are lost, companies close, or other unexpected events happen to the holders of your digital rights.
Madden 19 features a story mode called Longshot, which originally followed Madden 18’s Quarterback Devin Wade and Wide Receiver Colt Cruise following their journey to the NFL draft.
Madden 19 Homecoming
The story continues in Madden 19 with Homecoming, showing their real-life struggles, the reality of tough tryouts, and the career drama that happens with football players across the league.
Ultimate Team Mode
The Ultimate Team mode allows players to train up specific favorites for their ultimate team and go head-to-head against other Ultimate Teams offline with Solo Battles.
This means even though you’re going against a team that real players created, you’re not playing them live.
This is similar to a lot of mobile card battle or RPG games, where you fight against a player’s team even if they’re offline to see how you fare against raw power and artificial intelligence (AI). The game will depend on the offline player’s raw stats, the AI’s abilities, and your skilled answers to the challenge.
Franchise mode is what most people look for, allowing players to go through the league as a specific team. Winning matters, and you have to handle everything from drafts to contracts to dealing with the league’s intricate rules.
Association Football and Sport Manager Games
Association Football has a lot more options, since unlike American football, it isn’t as dominated (in both viewership and copyright) as the NFL’s football culture. Here are a few of the most popular Association Football games:
- FIFA Manager
- Championship Manager
- Football Manager
- Pro Evolution Soccer
- Inazuma Eleven Ares
- Soccer on Desk
Inazuma Eleven Ares
While most Association Football games are based on real life football gameplay or management, one stands out from the rest. Inazuma Eleven Ares is based on a Japanese animation (anime) series about soccer, and is more of a fantasy-based football game.
What does that mean? Special attacks (called Hissatsu, meaning ‘to annihilate with one blow’), magic, and hot-blooded power that one would expect from anime.
Not a realistic Football/Soccer simulator
It’s not for everyone and certainly not for someone expecting a realistic football simulator.
Racing games such as Rocket League (also known as Car Soccer), Mutant League Football (with a cartoon spinoff in the 1990s), or Super Baseball 2020 (a robot baseball game, also anime style) enjoy growing popularity.
These days, it’s more about figuring out if there’s a decent in-game system that you can enjoy, or being able to find players online.
FIFA, Football Manager, and Pro Evolution Soccer are among the most popular.
Management versus field gameplay is the main division here, but that doesn’t mean the field gameplay titles aren’t without management options.
Both FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer give players the option to fill out their roles as managers if they so desire, but not as deeply as with Football Manager‘s dedicated financial and personnel systems.
Motorsport Games for PC
Of all sports games, racing games have the most options.
From games based on existing racing competitions to night riding, unofficial drives, and both legal and illegal street racing, there’s a lot to do in the world of car sports.
Need for Speed
Need for Speed and Gran Turismo are two of the bigger titles that has been around for decades. Each title brings better graphics for vehicles and environments with each game, and introduce new systems to make the newest game worth another purchase for another year.
What separates realistic games from one another? It’s all about handling. Make a game react more like a real car and deliver more realistic options is the name of the game, and there’s always new breakthroughs in game programming, computer science, and translating real physics to game physics to work through.
It’s about how you handle your vehicle on different types of roads, how the weather affects your damage, the wear and tear of your tires, and the many ways that stock and custom parts work together.
Some games still deliver basics such as better speeds with new engines or better braking with new brakes, but more games are offering pros and cons to different options rather than just giving a straight-line march to “the best parts.”
Here is a list of current and recent racing games:
- Forza Motorsport 7
- Forza Horizon 4
- Project CARS 2
- Dirt Rally 2
- Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit
- Burnout Paradise (2018 Remaster)
- iRacing, F1 2018
- Assetto Corsa Competizione
- MotoGP 18
- Project Gotham Racing
- The Crew
- Twisted Metal
- Mario Kart
Project Gotham Racing
Project Gotham Racing was a breath of fresh air to the racing genre since it captured the feel and aesthetics of street racing. With modern non-stock cars and cityscapes for racing beyond well-known tracks, it was a night rider’s dream.
Forza Horizon 4
The creator–Bizarre Creations Limited–released a similarly stylish game called Blur in 2010 before parent company Activision closed the racing studio.
That particular style of racing hasn’t returned, but Forza Horizon 4 — another franchise that uses street cars and many other cars in its inventory–is the closest game to the Project Gotham and Blur style.
The Burnout franchise blurs the line of realistic racing and more fantasy-based racing. While it uses real cars from the real world, the game is more about pulling off stunts and causing massive damage.
You’re supposed to crash in some cases, or at least cause damage while still completing your objects. It’s about style, and other games such as Need for Speed and Project Gotham racing are all about winning with style, winning efficiently, or doing more than just flooring it.
The Crew represented a push of the MMORPG aspect of racing.
While many modern racing games involved multiplayer gameplay and even challenges, The Crew was designed to be a persistent world where you would race, complete missions and challenges, and basically live a street racer–or racing cop–life online.
The Crew 2
Unfortunately, the franchise may have been a bit too early for the technology available. The Crew’s controls were like going back to a decade of loose steering, but The Crew 2 enhanced the driving a lot more.
The Crew 1 included a loot system that was grinding designed for people who think Everquest or Lineage 2 when they hear MMO. Racing gamers aren’t necessarily interested in that–especially almost a decade after most MMORPG players walked away from the grinding world.
In The Crew 2, loot meant little to nothing — which just showed the missing potential of the loot system.
Players want to work towards enhancing their cars, and there’s nothing wrong with a bit of grinding for money or parts. It just takes a balance that probably required some beta testing.
Mario Kart and Twisted Metal represent the zanier, fantasy-like worlds of racing.
While Burnout is a stunt and crash-lover’s dream, Mario Kart is about racing with funny, cute, and sometimes sadistic power ups while Twisted Metal is about murdering people with weird vehicles.
Sports gaming reaches across almost every sport, and even though some sports aren’t included in this guide through the genre, there’s a simulation out there for everyone.
From lacrosse to tennis to Dead or Alive Xtreme 3’s volleyball obsession with voluptuous fighting vixens and breast-jiggling physics, all you need to do is thing of the genre and see what the PC has to offer.