You tend to seem the same faces in the sports category, year in and year out, and 2014 is no different, really. But plenty of games really tried to shake things up this year, so although the names themselves might familiar, many series made significant strides this year.
What we said: Not much has changed off of the pitch, EA Canada still can't seem to work out how to create stable netcode at launch, and goalkeepers still make hideous errors in spite of their obvious upgrades, but ultimately FIFA 15 is a fast-paced, thrilling triumph where it counts. It's frustrating at times, but it's also the most rewarding FIFA in years.
What we said: Football Manager 2015 simultaneously makes navigation easier thanks to a revamped UI, while making other aspects more convoluted. Its match engine offers greater interaction, and yet somehow seems more opaque. But in spite of its contradictions, FM15 does a fine job of delivering a vastly deep, and more integrated and collaborative experience of football management, with some scouting overhauls that make finding diamonds in the rough more rewarding than ever before. This year's game has its faults, and doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it'll still steal your life away if you let it.
What we said: Inazuma Eleven: GO successfully blends football and over-the-top JRPG gameplay into a silly yet compelling mix. Outrageous special abilities, massive Fighting Spirits and improved visuals make this a fresh new start for Level-5's quirky franchise.
What we said: One of the most visually impressive games of any genre out there, Madden 15 actually improves on the series' usual formula in cracking fashion, finally fixing many of the longstanding issues with defending, and upping the rewards to be had on both sides of the pigskin. Quite possibly the most impressive Madden game in years.
What we said: NBA 2K15 is probably the best example of sports game fan service out there. It's a comprehensive package for any NBA fan that does an enormous amount to capture the intricacies and the dramas of the league, all the while creating exciting on-court action that is detailed and nuanced and fun to play. However, its years-old connectivity issues, and the dependency of offline modes on online servers once again threaten to ruin what should an outstanding game.
What we said: Vastly improved systems on the pitch make PES 2015 the undisputed king of footballing depth on the pitch this year. It still can't quite match up to FIFA in terms of that televisual presentation, but PES 2015 is outstanding where it counts -- one of the most rewarding football games in years.
Winner: NBA 2K15
Another game that struggled with its online features at launch, but NBA 2K15 remains, nonetheless, the premier NBA fan experience, all rolled up into one enormous gaming content package. It's sullied somewhat by the repeated connectivity issues that have plagued the series for years, but they've been much calmer of later. The game looks fantastic, the presentation (as if I need to say) is absolutely top notch, even if it's quite weird to have Steve Kerr commentating on matches in which he's also coaching or Doris Burke interviewing an invisible person, but ultimately NBA 2K15 gets to the emotional heart of the sport, and MyGM and MyCareer's rollercoaster, Hollywood sporting dramas are beyond compare. That's not to say they can't improve going forwards, but I'm itching to get back on the floor and put everything on the line for Coach Casey... if only so I can facilitate a sneaky move to the Heat in a couple of weeks.
What was your favourite sports game of 2014?