Every Sunday, we will get you caught up on the sports gaming news you might have missed, during the busy week. This includes the latest videos from our content team and featured articles from the staff.
The footwork really stands out so far, and the feints/pulled punches seem very impressive as well at this juncture. The visuals of some of the hooks and punches don’t hold up quite as well at this early stage, but there’s plenty of time to make refinements.
Making a great sports game and making a great online sports game are two very different endeavors. Though some might assume that taking an amazing offline sports game online is a fairly straightforward process, there are a lot of decisions both big and small that go into optimizing that online experience, and these can be crucial to making the game as enjoyable as possible. We often take for granted the kinds of variables that many series have spent a lot of time over the years getting right, and these are integral things like the length of the quarters or periods in games or the default difficulty, especially considering how many team sports will involve some amount of AI players.
During the past few weeks, in anticipation of the launch of the PS5 and Xbox Series X, we’ve looked at a number of current games and how they made the leap from one console generation to another. We’ve covered a lot of the major sports games that exist today, but there are a few games that didn’t make any appearances on the PS4 or Xbox One. These games did not show up not because fans didn’t want them but because, well, legally it was a messy issue.
Over the last couple weeks, we have been taking a bunch of current-gen sports game and putting them into the next gen. We did Madden, NHL, FIFA and PES, but all those games are real and tangible in some way. However, we then went into what-if territory with a next-gen College Hoops 2K, and now I plan to look at a franchise we all hope and pray comes back in the form of next-gen NCAA Football.
We have been doing our look ahead to next-gen sports games and what prior launches can tell us about them, but we also wanted to take this next-gen launch week to look back at some of the best sports games that kicked off a console generation. Matt took the lead here with a look at his top five launch sports games, and now I’m going to extol the virtues of five of my own this week. I want to start with a Madden NFL 2001 retrospective because I still consider this the biggest leap from one generation to the next in history.
It’s evident that the 2K development team has put in a substantial amount of work in hopes of putting out a genre-defining game once again. With pretty much all of the information about next gen out now — plus the game itself — we’re all going to go on this journey together. But is it justified to be excited for next gen? Let’s recap all the biggest pieces of news we’ve gotten the last two weeks to answer that question and get you all caught up if you’re taking the next-gen plunge today.
While the video game world welcomes the next-gen consoles this week, EA Sports recently dropped a blast from the past on us, or at least on those of us who pre-ordered the newest iteration of EA’s long-running NHL series. If you pre-ordered NHL 21, you were recently granted access to one of the most beloved sports titles to ever hit the home console market: NHL 94.
Coming off chatting about Madden 2001 on the PS2, doing the NBA 2K14 retrospective feels like the right game to hop to next as we continue to chat about some of the best console launch sports games of all-time. After all, The Xbox Series X launched today and one of the main graphical attractions is NBA 2K21. Going back to the start of the PS4 and Xbox One launches, NBA 2K14 was a graphical showpiece as well.
The final piece of news 2K released was that MyGM, MyLeague and MyLeague Online would now be called MyNBA. This is potentially exciting news for franchise players who have been waiting for a mode that combines all three modes into one. The mode gives you the ability to play a franchise mode how you want to. This new mode gives you the option of combining the role-playing elements into a franchise with all the customization MyLeague offered. You can even create a league with your friends and run an online league with all the same options.
When several of the world’s top pro wrestlers decided to come together to create All Elite Wrestling, the wrestling world was put on notice. Since then, AEW has continued to grow in popularity. As AEW continues to grow, new endeavors begin to take shape. One of those is AEW Games.
I have chatted about Madden 2001 and NBA 2K14 so far this week, and now we come to NFL 2K retrospective. When it comes to important console launch sports games, there might not be one more crucial than NFL 2K. Released back in 1999, this was such an important moment at the time as the Dreamcast launched before the PS2 and thus this was the first look at “next-gen” football. I remember going to a friend’s house at the time and not believing what I was seeing when he booted up NFL 2K. Presentation, graphics, gameplay, it was like watching a game on TV for real.
When thinking about how to write up this SSX retrospective, I as always tried to put myself back in my little kid shoes and remember how it made me feel to play it on Christmas morning when I got a PS2. I definitely started off that morning playing Madden 2001, and I ended it playing SSX late into the night.
Like many of you, I have spent the good majority of the global pandemic binge watching Netflix, catching up on my video game backlog and organizing my house. It was during one of these organization sessions that I came across an old disc of FIFA 14 for the Xbox One. Immediately upon seeing the disc, I was immediately taken back down memory lane. As I sat there daydreaming about FIFA 14, I couldn’t help but remember the excitement surrounding the launch of the Xbox One and PS4, a similar experience to what many of us are going through now with the PS5/Xbox Series X launches. As I came to my senses, or more likely one of my kids started yelling my name, I began to think about what made FIFA 14 on the Xbox One/PS4 such a great footy title, which is convenient because we’re wrapping up our “best console launch sports games” series today with my FIFA 14 retrospective.
To say I was disappointed in FIFA 21 would be an understatement. Leading up to its release, EA was extremely transparent in its Pitch Notes series, which built up expectations that they mostly did not deliver on for me (at least on the pitch). While Career mode got some great upgrades, the gameplay on the pitch suffered from some pretty glaring issues, namely the lack of midfield awareness by the AI (both your teammate AI and the CPU). While the slider guys are working overtime to ensure that we have a realistic experience that mirrors what we hold near and dear to our OS hearts, the truth is that they shouldn’t have to. Sure, issues like positioning and runs off the ball always need a little love and attention, but glaring issues shouldn’t fall to the feet of the community to address. Be that as it may, post-patch FIFA 21 now includes two major patches (Title Updates 3.1 & 4), so it’s time to see if FIFA 21 has improved.