With developers finally pushing the limits of both of the high-definition consoles, there was a veritable plethora of drop-dead gorgeous looking driving and sports sims. Thankfully a good bunch of them had the gameplay to match, as big hitting franchises like FIFA, Forza and Colin McRae returned with arguable series' bests, proving that - unlike Beverly Hills 90210 - it's possible to be both pretty and engaging at the same time. The Wii also made its mark again with the advent of the Wii MotionPlus, boasting increased motion control along with its impressive partnered showcase Wii Sports Resort, and a hugely responsive Wii version of Tiger Woods 10 that really made the most of MotionPlus. Finally, although Gran Turismo 5 failed to make an appearance on a next-gen console yet again, the PSP was graced with its slick realism and smooth gameplay.
Take a look at the shortlist of contenders below, and if there are any that take your fancy be sure to click on the thumbnails for a price comparison:
From the Malaysian rainforests to the stadia of LA, DiRT 2 took rally gaming to a new level. Accessible to all comers, it struck a fine balance between the immediacy of the arcade, and a driving experience that married realistic physics with exhilarating speed.
Pretty good on the PSP, but a huge achievement on Nintendo's little white box, the Wii version of F1 2009 proved to be one of the most fun racers of the year, with a handling model that proved frighteningly fast and immersive. True the rosters were a little out of date, but the drive itself was great fun and made for some heady races.
FIFA 08 was good, FIFA 09 was better, and again EA Sports has somehow managed to improve the formula with some subtle presentation tweaks, an overhaul of Manager Mode and a revamped growth system for this year's instalment. Additionally, you could now put your own face into the game and take your Pro through every single game mode.
Football Manager has certainly been the discerning choice for wannabe Alex Fergusons over the years, although it has at times been criticised for poor presentation. This year changed that with a spruced-up interface, a full 3D match engine and smoother running. Eidos never had a chance.
It already had Iron Man fans hooked by using the Audi R8 as its poster child, but Forza 3 was about so much more than its fantastic looks. Accessible to newcomers and veterans alike, Forza 3 improved on its predecessor in nearly every way and thrilled Xbox 360 owners as their Sony counterparts bemoaned the lack of a Gran Turismo rival.
The Sony handheld, however, did get its own new Gran Turismo game, and it was good. Really good. Although lacking a Career Mode, GT PSP managed the admirable feat of distilling the GT experience onto a UMD, tuning the title superbly for on-the-go gaming. The cars were all there, it looked fantastic and it handled just like its bigger brothers.
Another cracking game for PSP, Arctic Edge brought all of the MotorStorm magic across for the prtable market, recreating the snow wastes of the extreme north with aplomb. From the open courses to the fully featured vehicles themselves, this proved that downscaled ports didn't have to suck.
Bouncing back from a relatively poor 2009, Konami seemed to take their kick up the backside well, with a much improved game this year to show that PES was back on form. The 360 degree movement was just the start, with a graphical overhaul, a new A.I. system, greater strategic control and more licenses helping to make this year's rivalry with EA a much closer affair.
Another polished performance from EA, pre-Woods' PR nightmare. Building on previous games in the series, again this was a case of exceptional presentation backed up with tweaked and perfected gameplay mechanics. Most notable, though, was the Wii's version, using the new MotionPlus to frankly excellent effect.
Speaking of MotionPlus, the game that introduced the Wii's new level of motion control was a fab fun fest of sporting frivolity. Particularly engaging were the swordplay, the archery and the wakeboarding, with a couple of old favourites returning for an upgrade too. Best of all, though, was the table tennis, which really showed off the new hardware, although if I see another advert with Ant and Dec I may have to break something.