11:26 AM - December 3, 2010 by MMChrisS
Gold: ESPN NFL 2K5
Releasing at only $20, ESPN NFL 2K5 will likely go down as the greatest sports gaming bargain of all time. Online players rejoiced over 32-team leagues -- complete with trades, injuries and free agency -- that hit both the PS2 and Xbox. Week-by-week player development and coach-specific team tendencies highlighted a deep offline Franchise mode. Chris Berman's halftime highlights and weekly wrap-up shows added the feel of a real-life Primetime telecast to the game as well. Like the NES classic Tecmo Super Bowl, ESPN NFL 2K5's fans still edit yearly roster updates, keeping the game relevant. Time passes on, but ESPN NFL 2K5 does not.
Silver: NCAA Football 2004
For its time, NCAA Football 2004 was a feature-packed game. 36 I-AA teams (still missing from today's NCAA games) complemented the 100-plus division I-A programs. Fans of Division II and Division III teams could build those schools with the create-a-school feature and use them in Dynasty mode. Sports Illustrated magazine covers and new pregame introductions added to the game's pageantry. But if there is one thing for which NCAA 2004 is remembered, it's the debut of online play for the Playstation 2. EA's shinier, PS3 football games -- arguably -- still cannot match the fun factor of the legendary 2004 edition.
Readers Choice: NFL 2K5
Because really? Who expected anything else? Not only did NFL 2K get nearly 90% of the votes, it do so while laughing at every other football game offering the past decade. This was the most one sided category for either the staff or the readers, so anyone thinking NFL 2K5's star might fade with time has been greatly mistaken.