If it seems like video game emulation has been all the rage as of late, it’s because it has been. Regardless of what console or arcade system you’re looking to play, it can be found online. What makes emulation so great is not only does it allow one to enjoy their favorite titles from the past regardless of the console, but the visual fidelity can enhance each title in ways we never would have imagined. That said, not every sports game has received this treatment, which is why I’m putting together this top five PCSX2 sports games that still deserve to get an emulation enhancement.
Getting started is easy, but emulation can require a rather “beefy” gaming computer, especially regarding the processor, so do your homework before getting too frustrated. With that said, I recently covered a couple of groups who have taken emulation to the next level with modding and individual game enhancements, particularly with NFL 2K5, Madden 08, NCAA Football 06, and NCAA Football 14.
The groups of talented individuals have found ways to revamp the textures, stadiums, uniforms, score bugs, broadcast options, and much more. Being so impressed with their work, I wanted to take a look at five other games I would love to see get the same attention as the previous titles I’ve covered.
Top Five PCSX2 Sports Games That Need Updates
The culmination of a three-year reboot program and transition from the Triple Play series to the MVP series. MVP 2005 was the ultimate baseball game for many and still is for some even today. It offered a superior pitch and batting interface that was both accessible and Intuitive.
Let’s not also forget that MVP 2005 also delivered a deep franchise mode, and also included an owner mode that let you improve the facilities over time. Whether you’re in the party of MVP 2005 as the best or just a solid baseball game, it still holds up very well today, either on PC with mods, emulation, or simply on the original console.
While there is an occasional ability to get updated rosters for the game, it is done typically by memory card purchase for the original console. If the game were to receive the treatment like others games I’ve talked about before, it would bring many back to this title, and probably in waves. New stadium ads and textures, new current and alternate uniforms, new broadcast options, and score bugs would simply be a godsend for those faithful to the game. In short, MVP Baseball 2004 was always the favored game for mods, but I wish MVP Baseball 2005 also got this treatment.
All-Star Baseball 2005
Although Acclaim officially ceased operations in September 2004, they still managed to produce one of my favorite baseball games in a long-running series from 1997 until 2005, with All-Star Baseball 2005 being my favorite
It’s a game (and series) that offered so many unique features, many that still are not commonplace in today’s era of gaming. From first-person fielding to future ballpark renditions, excellent well flowing commentary, and a franchise experience where you participated in everything from spring training to the winter meetings, and even let you participate in the Rule 5 Draft.
For me, All-Star Baseball 2005 was the best overall experience a true baseball nerd could have at the time, even though MVP 2005 gained most of the notoriety that year. Even today with Sony’s MLB The Show franchise available, I find real entertainment value in firing up ASB 05 on my PC through the PCSX2 emulator.
Now, with the ability to play the game in higher resolution with enhanced graphics, I often wonder what could be done if a small group dedicated themselves to enhancing this series in a way that NFL 2K5 and NCAA Football 14 have been.
As with MVP 2005, to see All-Star Baseball 2005 updated with the current ecosystem of today’s baseball era would be as welcomed as any game on this list. While the title may not hold up quite as well as say NCAA Football 06 or MVP 2005, it still plays a great game and I would jump at the chance to see it improved in almost any way.
Dirt To Daytona
A NASCAR title that flew entirely too far under the radar in its time, and was overshadowed by EA’s NASCAR franchise and NASCAR Heat, the cult title from Monster Games that was available for about every platform that could be found was released in November 2002. If you missed out, just know it offered an awful lot to do once that disc was inserted.
The game allowed fans to race in cup cars, trucks, and the Dodge Weekly Series, and all of them were fun to race in and offered a different experience on the track.
Not to be outdone, D2D also allowed gamers to jump into a career mode that saw you climb behind the wheel on the local level and prove yourself race after race and series after series, with it culminating at the top of the food chain in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series.
While it still holds up very well to this day and racing with a roster full of legends is great, it would be phenomenal if even the game’s textures and logos were enhanced through modding. The visual fidelity via the emulator helps sharpen the edges and refine the graphics, but to see the tracks, cars, and drivers get a visual makeover would be outstanding, and hopefully open the door for people who have never raced this series before.
MVP NCAA Baseball 06/07
Once EA lost the rights to the MLB license, instead of shutting the shop down, they went in a different direction but with the same engine. They took the MVP Baseball engine and created the college baseball equivalent. I list either the ’06 or the ’07 version because if you have any memories of this series, they were the same title with the latter providing a few more authentic stadiums and new equipment.
Much like its MLB predecessor, the NCAA version of MVP was outstanding, and one of my favorite series ever created. It only lasted two years because of a lack of sales and support, but the developers did an amazing job of recreating the college game down to the “ting” off the bat. A deep dynasty mode that gave you a chance to reach the regionals, super regionals, and potentially the College World Series, and had a recruiting mode that helped you find the next great talent for your school.
The series also had a create-a-stadium feature, and you could not only rename the kids on your team, but you also had access to their ratings and the ability to change them for a realistic overall experience.
The game plays wonderfully on the PCSX2 emulator, but even maxed out it is starting to show its age in terms of graphic fidelity. To see this series get the same treatment as its football counterpart from the same group would be, well, just amazing.
This game already consumes a lot of my emulation playing time, and visual improvements and updates would take it to the next level.
NCAA Gamebreaker 2004
Although overshadowed by EA’s NCAA Football series, the 989 NCAA series offered an awful lot as an alternative, including a solid physics system and AI that provided a serious challenge. Also, while I loved the voices of Corso, Nessler, and Herbstreit in the EA series, hearing the legendary Keith Jackson providing the commentary for the NCAA GameBreaker franchise was an outstanding “get” for Sony. While some of the commentary is repetitive, hearing his voice again is worth the experience by itself.
NCAA GameBreaker was already an extremely sharp-looking game, and for many, the visuals outdid most of its competition in 2003 and 2004.
The graphics were clean, and the game did an amazing job of creating a larger-than-life atmosphere for both game sounds and the college venues themselves. Again, the game already looks spectacular for being almost two decades old and three console generations ago, but there is always something that can be improved.
Honestly, an updated roster, logos, helmets and uniforms, and field textures would be enough to jump back into a full-fledged dynasty again with GameBreaker.
Here is the truth about modding the PS2 ISO files. It is extremely difficult and time-consuming, and the groups and individuals who take on the task do it for the love of the sports and the title. To make things even more difficult, not every game ISO is approachable and able to be modified in the same way, and with some, it is simply impossible.
So while I sit here and type what sports titles I would love to see get enhanced, I do so from a naïve perspective. That said, as someone who is a creator himself (see MLB The Show stadium creations) I have a profound level of respect for all that goes into each title and creating a better experience for the community.
These are my top five sports games I would love to see get the PCSX2 enhancement treatment if possible, but there are so many solid sports titles from the PS2 era and we here at Operation Sports would love to know what games you would list above.