Hold on to your hats everybody, it's Best Yearly Sequel Award 2013 Edition! Yes, the sports category is filled with incremental sequels and evolution rather than revolution when it comes to innovation, but that doesn't mean it isn't stuffed with quality and value.
Especially, as it turns out, on next-gen systems.
EA Canada have pulled out all the stops once again to present a FIFA game that feels meaningfully different when compared to previous iterations, braving new ground with improved controls, expanded game modes (Career has never been better), and an emphasis on realism that has not been reached before. The impressive, addictive multiplayer offerings remain enticing, and on next-gen tech the game oozes aesthetic class.
FM14 is really all about accessible depth, and that phrase shouldn't send you running. This is the grail: the ability to do more in less time thanks to clever UI redesign and improved feedback systems without sacrificing the need for deep micromanagement should you be wanting a challenge. Better yet, for the first time in years, the Premier League is genuinely wide-open. You can't jump into the hotseat at Manchester United and coast to victory, and that's terribly exciting, both in-game and out in the real world too.
Though frankly, I've forgotten what the Sun looks like.
There's still room for improvement, but Visual Concepts have created a truly next-gen instalment for this year's iteration of NBA 2K. Everything, from the furrowed lines on LeBron's brow to the engaging back and forth between your MyPlayer and their agent in MyCareer mode, oozes personality like never before. Probably the best sports game on the planet right now. - 9/10
I know. It's not a sports game. But Rayman Legends earns it's place here by filling a hole that Nintendo seem happy to leave open given that lack of Super Mario Strikers on the Wii U.
Two words: Kung Foot.
One of the few iOS games to grace our awards lists this year, Vlambeer's Ridiculous Fishing stuck two fingers up to the scene insistent upon shoehorning microtransactions into everything, and instead presented us with an utterly barmy take on a traditionally languid pastime. Ostensibly an endless runner (of sorts) mixed with a touch shooter, but with added fishing and shotguns, Ridiculous Fishing made virtual fishing more engrossing, addictive, and fun than any Rapala game we've ever played.
2K grabbed hold of the WWE IP with both hands when they plucked it from THQ's corpse, and they played the nostalgia card big-time with WWE 14, fronting the their first game in the series with lashings of WWE fan service as the game took a long look back at the history of Wrestlemania. Though not a huge technical step up from previous titles, WWE 14 had the game and it sure had the heart.
Best Sports Game 2013 | NBA 2K14
Visual Concepts poured effort into dramatically increasing the range and variety of animations for this year's instalment of NBA 2K14, and it shows, even on last-gen tech. The on-court action is better than it has ever been, the responsive controls and variety of movement and execution options are absolutely wonderful. Online pickup games and Crews make a return to make NAB 2K14 the most comprehensive sports package out there.
But on the next-gen platforms, VC finally take NBA 2K to new heights, greatly improving the MyCareer experience, making things more personal for each and every player, integrating NBA TV and real-life data into proceedings, and dazzling the senses with the finest broadcast-level presentation that is absolutely unmatched across the entire sporting genre.
We have our first next-gen benchmark for excellence.
But that's just us. What about you, what was your favourite sports game of 2013? Hit us up with your votes and thoughts below.