The lights are on
As we close out this console generation, most sequels are
humming comfortably along by making minor adjustments to their base gameplay.
Not sports games. While some of the best performing games got by with minor
improvements, both Madden and NHL made wholesale changes to their franchise
modes to varying results. Who rose to the top of our list this year? Read on to
Best Career Mode: NBA 2K13
Bottom line: This is the best single-player experience
available to sports fans. By allowing users to gain Virtual Currency in any
game mode, Visual Concepts made it much easier to create an impactful player
out of the gate. Whether you set up in the post to dominate down low or hang
around the three point line looking for an opportunity to strike from afar, the
AI is finally smart enough to use you properly when you’re off the ball. Off
the court, however, is where this mode rises head and shoulders above the
competition. Whether you are boosting your ego in a post-game press conference,
sitting down with the GM to air your gripes about teammates, managing
endorsement deals, or tracking your followers on Twitter, MyCareer gives you a
taste of what it feels like to be a franchise player.
Best Franchise Mode: FIFA 13
To be the best, you have to beat the best. FIFA 13 achieved
this by going the extra mile, creating immersive storylines that make you feel
like your franchise is a living breathing entity. Unhappy players gripe
publicly when they don’t get the playing time they think they deserve and even
demand transfers. The press notices when you make inquiries on the waiver wire,
which can upset your current player in that particular position. Broadcasters
are finally aware of the magnitude of big games and comment when you add new
players to your roster. Best of all, FIFA 13 allows you to couple your
professional managerial duties with an international assignment, which gives
you two rosters to tinker with.
Best Multiplayer: FIFA 13
Many sports games took strides forward in multiplayer in
2012, but FIFA maintained its position at the top with subtle improvements.
This year’s installment brings the popular Seasons format to Ultimate Team and
Pro Clubs. Per fan requests, the Pro Clubs are split into Online Pro and Career
Pro to prevent boosting, and the new accomplishments give you more ways to
improve your player stats. Best of all, the network is stable.
Best Presentation: NBA 2K13
Though FIFA is catching up to Visual Concepts by adopting
the contextual commentary that takes into account when in the season the game
is taking place, player performance trends, and roster shake-ups, NBA 2K13 is
still the best in the business. The broadcast team of Kevin Harlan, Clark
Kellogg, and Steve Kerr has a fantastic rapport, and Visual Concepts designs
the running commentary so the trio can begin a discussion about a player,
interrupt it when something notable happens on the court, and return to the
subject. The broadcast-quality stat infographics and replay camera angles are
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