A huge number of sports games have been released, just in time for the holidays. But which should you choose? Here are three superior games that won’t fail you. While they were all played on the Xbox 360, these games will shine no matter what console or computer you have.
FIFA SOCCER 10: OLE, OLE, OLE!
|FIFA SOCCER 10
Electronic Arts for PS2, PS3, Wii, Xbox 360, DS, PSP, PC, iPhone
Replay Value: 9.0
Overall Score: 9.5
Pros: 360-degree play; add a photo of yourself to a player; high replayability.
Cons: Ads are present in the game; there’s so much to do, it can be confusing.
EA made this year’s FIFA Soccer gameplay so intriguing and exciting, even those who don’t play soccer will be impressed. And real players will simply go ga-ga over the new stuff.
The first thing that’ll get you going is the amount of personalization in FIFA Soccer 10. You can upload your own photo and place it on the player you create. Yes, that’s you playing against the greatest players in the game.
What really makes the soccer offering so cool are the small things. Check out the coaching portion of the game, for instance. Manager Mode alone has added 50 new upgrades. The Player Transfer System isn’t just about money. It’s about a cornucopia of stats. In fact, this portion, along with the Player Experience and Growth System, almost feels like a role-playing game in which you level up and increase strength.
Most players will just want to hit the field and feel the thrills of offense, defense and scoring goals. This year, you can move in a full 360-degree circle. It doesn’t sound like much, but upgrading from eight ways to move the ball to nearly limitless ways adds a lot of joy to the game. FIFA 10 feels more real because soccer is all about precision and angles. After all, this is a true simulation, not an arcade game.
You’ll also be witness to a massive number of teams throughout the world—almost 600 of them—along with 50 stadiums. You can play online among as many as 20 people. That may be too many, but you get your money’s worth with this game.
NBA 2K10: SO REAL!
2K Sports for PS2, PS3, Wii, Xbox 360, PSP, PC
Replay Value: 9.0
Overall Score: 8.75
Pros: Real-time scores and standings add serious reality. Create online teams of up to 15 with pals. Hip-hop soundtrack.
Cons: Way too many ads. Minor glitches appeared in first hour of play. Could be faster.
It’s all about reality. As you play NBA 2K10, you get real-time updates of basketball games from a ticker and, yes, from the announcers. To witness it, you have to be signed into Xbox Live. It’s just one thing that makes the game feel ultra real—just as if you were watching the game on TV and playing at the same time. If a player gets injured in real life, he’ll be injured in the game, too.
I saw two problems, which actually appeared in my first hour of play. First, there are too many ads during the game, even more than you see on TV in a game. Also, when a graphic came on the screen with the leaders in the division, it stayed up there during gameplay, obscuring vision on the court. So the Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki hit a 3 pointer from way downtown. Ouch!
You can just play a season, or you can start low in the ranks as a hungry, undrafted player who’s sweating it out on the Summer Circuit. As you gain strength, move up to a shot at the big leagues in training camp. Then, move up the ladder to become a superstar.
Top players like LeBron have what 2K Sports calls Signature Style. That means the superstars act and play like the real person, more so than ever before. Every quirk before free throws is there. So is every annoyed facial expression the players have when hearing they got a foul.
Sometimes, you feel like the players should move more quickly. Again, it’s just the game being real. Players get tired like they do in real life, and the really big guys generally don’t speed up and down the court like Dwyane Wade. Still, you wish they were speedier.
Pull and hold the left trigger to start Intense D, which should help with blocking if your team isn’t one of the best. Pulling off alley oops and hop-step spins can be done, too. There are a lot of moves to learn with the controller. Once you get them down, you’ll be on your way to superstardom.
NHL 10 SKATES STRONGLY
Electronic Arts for PS3, Xbox 360
Replay Value: 9.0
Overall Score: 8.75
Pros: Wild animations; online play; over 200 tweaks in gameplay since last year; great soundtrack..
Cons: Ads are all around the ice; not as much of a leap forward as last year’s game.
It’s not the big makeover that the game got last year, but it’s still a terrific experience. And NHL 10 is not easy. Even in Pro mode, which is just one step up from Rookie mode, it’s hard to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins and even the Ottawa Senators. And there are a lot of buttons to remember. Unless you’re playing against a ringer, however, you should be able to do decently by moving around with the left stick and shooting with the right stick.
You can also use the left stick to aim for a place in the net. Sometimes, you’ll freak out a goalie with a shot that doesn’t seem possible in reality. For instance, I was Drury, the center from the Rangers. I stood parallel to the net near the boards. The goalie was on the right side of the ice. A well-aimed slap shot got so close to a sliver of space between the goalie’s pad and the net that he kicked the puck in with his skate. Score!
The announcers add thrills, more so than in the basketball and soccer games. They’re accurate with names and facts almost all the time. The crowd’s enthusiasm is pretty infectious, too. That and the soundtrack definitely get you going when you’re down a goal or two.
Customization makes the game even more fun. You can decrease the number of penalties the ref gives (and he does give a lot of them on the default mode). You can turn on a goalie mode, which lets you block the shots instead of the game’s artificial intelligence. You can change the camera angles from bird’s eye view to a view that’s closer to what a player would experience. You can even add plays via the D pad.
Just like FIFA 10 and NBA 2K10, there’s a huge amount of depth here. Not only can you play in the AHL, you can also play European teams. There’s a fantasy draft, online play with up to 12 players and a new way to battle it out on the boards for possession of the puck. All these make the replay value of NHL 10 very high. It’s so good, you can almost feel the spray of the ice.