This year may have been the best year ever for sports and racing game fans. The genre had the basics covered with the likes of NBA 2K, FIFA and even WWE all setting a fairly high standard for the industry when it comes to licensed efforts.
It’s hard to ignore the sheer variation on offer, too: whether you’re an NFL, NBA, F1, or perhaps an arcade racing fan, you could have only played sports and racing games throughout 2016 and you would still be well-versed in some of the year’s best games.
Most impressive about the quality on offer is that for many of these games, they are merely annual additions to long-lasting franchises, and yet somehow, the developers still manage to deliver the goods.
So which games stand out from the crowd? Let’s take a look at the year’s best sports and racing games. Don’t forget to vote in our poll for your GOTY genre winner.
Is anyone really surprised? With the addition of The Journey story mode, FIFA 17 took the franchise to new heights on the value and depth front.
The first game in the franchise to utilise the Frostbite engine, FIFA 17 may just be EA Canada’s finest entry in the franchise yet. Its story-based mode may need some fine-tuning and refinements heading into Year 2, but The Journey’s debut year is still worth checking out.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 may just be the finest entry in the PES franchise to date.
After years lingering behind the quality of EA’s FIFA, Konami’s PES franchise has leapfrogged it on the quality front, even if it is still lagging behind in sales.
PES 2017 truly does take the franchise back to its glory days of last decade, and if you’re absolutely going to play one football game this year, it would be hard to look past this game.
Its adaptive AI makes for one of the more challenging and rewarding pro-sport gaming experiences ever. Undoubtedly one of the year’s best.
Its “best” mode in My Career is now an afterthought, brought down by pointless interactions and cutscenes, and a mindless grind that tempts in-game purchases.
Thankfully, the core gameplay fundamentals around it have been refined and improved, and alongside many other great modes and a fantastic presentation, make for yet another fantastic NBA 2K entry.
This is ultimately where NBA 2K17 saves itself. Where it falls down with MyCareer, it picks itself up and dusts itself off with a host of other fantastic modes. MyLeague and MyGM are exactly the kind of modes that diehard fans have been crying out for. League and team management, expansion, trading, salaries, staff management. The depth on offer here is crazy.
Team creation is a fantastic addition that might be worth purchasing the game for alone. I won’t be surprised if these two modes eventually overtake MyCareer as the most popular in the game, especially if 2K Sports continues dragging the mode down the pay-to-win path.
Forza Horizon 3
It’s very easy to fall in love with Forza Horizon 3. It’s addictive and deep, with what seems like an endless stream of events, cars and customisation options available. It lacks much sense in the way it rewards and progresses the player, which gives it a bit of a muddled identity in how it wants you to approach driving.
However, it makes up for that with a genuine passion for open-world driving, and a representation of Australia that is as yet unmatched in games.
It suffers from some pretty significant performance issues, but WWE 2K17 is still a great game in its own right.
It delivers on a number of fronts, namely customisation and wrestler creation, which alone makes for a worth addition to the WWE lineup.
The combat is probably the best it’s ever been, and combined with the intimidatingly deep customisation suite, WWE 2K17 is the wrestling fan’s ultimate video game.