Believe me when I say this, I have done thousands of hours of research when it comes to this blog. While friends of mine would be playing the latest Call of Duty, Uncharted, Mass Effect or whatever the latest Sims game was, I was religiously playing any sports franchise game I could get my hand on.
It gave me the thought of doing top 10 all time best video games list, but since we are a sports website, I figured ill change it to my top 5 all time greatest sports games. Any console going back to my 1st console which was the Sega Megadrive to my most up to date console the Xbox One and PS4. No, I still don’t have the next gen consoles thanks to covid, but the second they are back available in Australia ill be getting them both, despite what my girlfriend says (I really hope she doesn’t read this).
Ok let’s get into it shall we.
Coming in at number 5 is FIFA 2004 with Henry, Ronaldinho and Del Piero on the cover. While I’ve gotten every FIFA game since 98, this was the first FIFA game I played that I started to understand more about the game, not just simply playing head-to-head games against my dad and mates when they came around. I was 13 when it came out and I can legitimately credit this game with my knowledge of other leagues that weren’t English or Scottish. I think my favourite non EPL team to play as was the San Jose Earthquakes of the MLS. Landon Donovan was a force in this game, his speed and shot ability was amazing. It was also the first FIFA game to have the career mode in it. I still remember the 1st team I started a career mode with Bury FC in League One and took them to the premier league in 5 seasons. I still think it’s the furthest I’ve gone in a career mode to this day. I’ve had FIFA 21 since it came out and only now am I even doing a career mode on it.
Just ahead of FIFA 2004in 4th is Madden 2006 with Donovan McNabb on the cover. A lot of people probably say that if you’re going to pick a Madden it should be 05 or 19 and I agree those were awesome editions of the game. But for me it has to be 06, It was the 1st Madden game I played before going back to play 04 where Michael Vick was a cheat code in that game. I fell in love with NFL because of this game. Playing as the patriots who were you know, kind of good back then thanks to the GOAT Tom Brady.
The set up to the Superstar mode was great as well. You had to pick your parents History which determined your stats, you signed and agent, had your apartment where you could demand a trade. The draft process was based purely on your parent’s history. Honestly, I think even to this day it’s the best Superstar/Career mode Madden has ever had. Base future modes around it and add the cinematic scenes and College Football sort of demo start, and they may return to the good days of Madden, because we can all admit Madden 21 was garbage.
Number 3 on my list is LMA Manager 07 on Xbox 360. I’m guessing the vast majority of people reading this have never heard of this game let alone played it. But I was that weird kid that was more interested in the tactics of Football and the behind the scenes management of a football team, rather than just simply playing the game like in FIFA. This game was Football Manager before Football Manager was cool, well at least that’s what it was for me, LMA Manager introduced me to Football Manager and started my love affair with the FM franchise.
Where this game was different you could build your stadium from the ground up or pick individual stands to develop from other stadiums around the world. It’s create a team feature was also great and you could build a team and pick players from any team in the world. My go to players when creating my team or looking for a player in the transfer window were Ballack, Sutton and Podolski. While the graphics weren’t up to the standards of FIFA at the time, for a Football nerd like me, this was almost the perfect football simulator.
2nd on my all-time list is F1 2021 the most recent iteration of the F1 franchise. Is there some recency bias in this pick, maybe, but this is clearly the best racing game I’ve ever played. And no surprise it’s the 1st version of the game created by EA Sports.
Online is pretty much the same as 2020, the usual pricks who will wreck you if you try to overtake them, its career mode is slightly better and the My Team career mode is a little bit better, where this game has really improved is in the gameplay. The AI drivers are a little more aggressive than in the past, and there are more defensive moves being shown by AI drivers as you try and overtake them. Extra areas of damage and more realistic component wearing, and failures makes this easily the best F1 game I’ve played. The only thing missing is the classic cars and events you could do in past versions of the game.
Before I give you my Number 1 sports game of all time, I need to give some honorable mentions that narrowly missed out. NCAA Football 13, a lot of people talk about NCAA 14 as it was the last edition to be made in the franchise and a lot was made of Barstool Personality BigCat going on a momentous Dynasty campaign with Coach Duggs and winning a National Championship with Tennessee, but for my 13 was the best version I played. Very similar to 14 but I spent hours recruiting and creating a national championship winning Boston College team, so nothing but fond memories of this game.
Another honorable mention goes to AO International Tennis. This was brought for me by my girlfriend and sure enough every Grand Slam tournament, by the second week I’m back into this game and playing it for at least a month afterwards. I love a game were you basically start at the very bottom and you have to grind to actually get to the big tournaments. Just talking about it here is making me want to jump into it again.
My last honorable mention is for FIFA 17, purely because of the introduction of the Frostbite game engine. It meant the players had more realistic movements and goalkeepers actually looked like they were trying to save your shots rather than reacting when the ball was already in the net. Its really the only major development the FIFA franchise has had since 2017.
Ok ok, its time for my number 1 sports video game of all time. I’ve already mentioned this game franchise in my list so far and when I look and think about the amount of time, I’ve spent on all these games, none of them come close to this one. The number 1 on my list has to be Football Manager and more specifically FM2020. When I look at my stats for playing hours before I jumped on to FM21, it was at 598.1 hours. The equivalent of almost 25 days of playing the game. While I have played FM21 for 718hrs so far, I enjoyed the 2020 edition of the game for its user screens. The navigation screens where slightly less in detail but I was able to do more tactically with the squad for a gameday, and I feel like the transfers were more realistic in 2020 than they are in 2021. AI transfers seem to be a bit more outrageous like they are of FIFA games, where as on FM20 the AI transfers seemed tamer and more based on reality. Don’t get me wrong, I love FM21 and am eagerly awaiting the release of FM22 around November, but for me Football Manager 2020 was perfection of the Football Manager franchise, and I’ve been playing these games since 2008 after I was introduced to Football Simulation games by LMA.
I’m sure I’ve missed some games at least for an honourable mention on my list, but those games are definitely my top 5. This is my top 5 all-time list, your list might be different, you might think my list is trash. Hit me up on twitter @JustJamieB90 and give me yours or drop a comment below.