In a sports gaming market where each option seems to be improved, the annual Sports Game of the Year award might finally be up for grabs. So long are the two-man battles between NBA 2K and MLB The Show. Now, with major improvements in Madden NFL 13, NHL 13, and the upcoming FIFA 13, who will be crowned as the best of the best?
It's just released, but NHL 13 is quite impressive.
Dustin Toms: For as deeply I have fallen in love with the new Madden, I can't give it my vote. Yes the game drastically improved, but there is another sleeper out there that will pop some eyes open.
NHL 13, with it's new skating engine and Connected GM mode, should be the hands-down choice for Sports Game of the Year. What the team up in Vancouver did was take a great game and make it even better -- something most of us aren't used to when it comes to yearly releases.
Don't sleep on NBA 2K13's potential.
Glenn Wigmore: Right now, I'd say that NHL 13 is standing right there with all the rest of the pack, probably even ahead by a little bit. It introduces a lot of really cool concepts to the gameplay, such as the new skating engine, better defensive options (including the new puck chop), better AI, and it adds the GM Connected mode on top of that (even though it has issues with the menus and EA servers). As an overall product, it's just a hair ahead of everything else this year.
That said, waiting in the wings are NBA 2K13 and FIFA 13, and I know better than to count out either of those franchises. They're just too strong to ignore, and I have to believe that at least one of them will make a stronger push this year than NHL, even with all NHL did right.
Don't sleep on MLB 12: The Show. It was released six months ago but is great.
Caley Roark: My time with NHL 13 has been limited to the early release, so I don't feel I've played enough to jump on-board with my colleagues in naming it "Game of the Year"...yet.
I do appreciate the things it has done, though. We seem to be in this period of refinement for many games, where the biggest additions are small or under-the-hood changes. Things like lighting, real-time cameras, physics engines, etc. are re-invigorating the genre without scrapping entire games (well, except for EA's NBA series).
With that in mind, my game of the year (without seeing FIFA 13 or NBA 2K13) has to be MLB: The Show 12. I kept returning to that game all summer. Even after it was 6 months "old." Even after the football games were released. Even after the season the Phillies have had.
To me, it is a stellar and solid game. I'm not a huge online player, so it's deficiencies in that realm haven't bothered me as much. It's just a blast to play and truly captures the look and feel of baseball.
This is an important point: NBA 2K13 simply looks overwhelmingly good at this point.
Matthew Coe: I truly think this is the year that NBA 2K takes home Sports Game of the Year, wrestling it away from the FIFA franchise. With most of the glaring weaknesses being addressed from NBA 2K12, the Olympics teams, and the new additions to MyPlayer, I am a believer that NBA 2K13 will be the Sports Game of the Year.
Having said that, if we're limiting our choices to games that have already released this year than I have to go with UFC Undisputed 3. No other game kept me interested the way UFC 3 did this year.
Released in February, the game played well out of the box and after some tuning from THQ, I feel like it's the closest we've ever come to simulating the UFC/MMA experience in video games. The addition of Pride FC and the revamped career mode, along with attribute updates and a great Create-a-Fighter community make this game stand out in a year that so far, has been full of let downs and bug-riddled releases.
NBA 2K13 releases in just a couple of weeks.
Aaron Ondrey: NBA 2K13 will take home the Sports Game of 2012 title. With improved game play (signature skills and toned animations), improved MYPLAYER (now MYCAREER) mode, and the addition of the Olympic teams, NBA 2K13 is really bringing it this year.
To beat out games like NHL 13, and FIFA 13, NBA 2K13 will have to improve the online performance and rid itself of the bugs and glitches that hindered last years title.
Like others have said, if we are limited to only games already on the market, MLB 12: The Show would have to be my choice. Built on the foundation of a great series, The Show just added on to it's greatness by adding great ball physics, improved lighting, and improvement on the analog pitching and hitting. The Show is a game that I play year-round, and I would always consider it a top candidate.
Need for Speed Most Wanted as a potential GOTY contender? Perhaps so says Bishop Tart.
Bishop Tart: The majority of people will say traditional sport games; NBA 2K13, NHL 13, FIFA 13, etc. I, however, will mention a racing franchise that is back thanks to a standout developer. Need for Speed: Most Wanted looks like not only the best racing game to release in 2012 (yes, Forza Horizon does look pretty damn good), but it looks like one of the best all-around games to release in 2012. Period.
The developer Criterion Games are combining the very best of the open-world Need for Speed games and the over-the-top craziness of their Burnout games. Cop chases, billboards/gates to smash, and an open-world multiplayer for you and your friends. What more could you ask for out of an arcade racing game?
That's not to say the other games listed above aren't going to be good, but just about everything Criterion makes is pure gold. Need for Speed: Most Wanted should be no exception.
The highest rated major release this year at OS remains SSX.
Chris Sanner: This year, there are a lot of really good contenders to the table. Considering no game has repeated as Sports Game of the Year since I've been at OS, I doubt that happens again this year -- FIFA looks good but I doubt it can get over the hump this year. NBA 2K13 is going to generate a lot of support, and I can see it winning it's second title in three years easy. Madden was much improved, but it's not winning it this year, not yet.
To me, MLB: The Show and NHL are on the docket as potential game of the year candidates. The Show is an incredible game this year, with it's refined ball physics and overall quite refined game. But I think it's early release (March) and it's lack of dramatic improvements will ultimately hurt it's chances.
NHL, on the other hand, has a strong season with a lot of key elements which have been revamped which give the game a different feel. Not unlike when the analog sticks became a huge part of the game, changing sports games forever, NHL's refinements this year have a similarly magic feel.
And lest we forget about SSX, which I think still is at the top of the heap of this year's sports game offerings -- just I don't think it can win a sports GOTY with it's more niche approach.
Thus, I'd say NHL 13 has the best chance of coming out on top this year, although 2K13 still has a chance to prove me wrong.