Friday, February 15, 2008

The Great Video Game Debate, Take 5: Sports Games

Time for part 5 in the "Gentlemanly Discussion" involving my friends at Soul Kerfuffle and LastBestAngryMan and me. This time we are focusing on the top five (and the worst) sports games of all time. This should be a good one, for rarely does something come along that gets people more riled up than the discussion of sports.

Except for Dwarf Fortress.


#5 Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 (PS2/Xbox/PC/GameCube)

Not only one of the highest rated sports games on Metacritic, THPS3 scored a whopping 97 (Universal Acclaim), placing it in the top echelon of gaming in general.


Admittedly, when this blogger was a young high school-aged hooligan, he loved skateboarding. I was never really good at it though, and spent more time trying unsuccessfully to "ollie" (and sitting around being "alternative" - god I was a dork) than actually pulling off real tricks.

Needless to say, when I found this game, with its incredible "Create-a-Skater" options, I finally got to live the dream of being able to actually skateboard. Well, the "beggar's version" anyway.

Once you get the controls down, you literally can spend hours in any of the expansive levels pulling of amazing trick combos, all while listening to arguably one of the best soundtracks found in any game.


#4 Wii Sports (Wii)

One of the earmarks of a good video game is its ability to enthrall people who aren't "gamers." It was obvious to me that Wii Sports is one of those games when I came home from work to find my fiancée (most decidedly not a gamer) locked in a full-contact "Clash of the Titans"-esque tennis battle with the Wii's CPU. Usually content to sit back and relax with a glass of wine and a book about Medieval Europe, she was hopping around with the Wiimote like a Croutching Tiger, Hidden Dragon fight scene extra. On screen, the little Wii fiancée was backhanding and serving up a storm.

I thought I was going to have to consult Wii Have a Problem...

What I won't discuss, however, is how that mean old Soul Kerfuffle ruined ours and The Machete's fun by teaching us how to beat all the Wii Sports games by sitting on the couch and flicking your wrist...

The dastardly Soul Kerfuffle is currently plotting in his
secret lair how to ruin Wii Sports for people the world over.


#3 SSX (PS2)

I was sitting in the basement of one of my friend's houses one afternoon several years back, when he asked me if I wanted to try a new snowboarding game. And so it began...

SSX is a silky smooth game released with the PS2 in 2000. It received a 93 on Metacritic and is generally regarded as one of the better snowboarding (if not sports in general) games out there.

Much like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3, once you learn the controls, pulling off inhuman stunts on challenging and creative courses becomes easy and the challenge is to either best the high score or beat your friend's score. Or you can just try over and over again to pull off the "double back flipping flying squirrel" which is undoubtedly the coolest move ever in all of sports video games.

Especially when done with Kaori, the rockinest snowboarder ever, who kinda looks like she walked out of the mind of The Machete...



#2 Need for Speed Underground 2 (Xbox/PC)

To me, this is the epitome of racing game. The physics are great, there is a variety of awesome cars, the locations are amazing, and the sound track is top notch (Xzibit, Felix da Housecat, Rise Against, Helmet, etc...).

There are two aspects of the game that really set it apart from its rivals, however. The first is model Brooke Burke, who guides you through the entire game. No really, I can't make things like that up. See for yourself...



The second aspect which takes this game above and beyond is the freedom it gives the gamer. The entire city where the story takes place is completely open: you are free to drive around and explore on your own. You can pick and chose your races as you see fit, and can even use your in-game cell phone to pick race-fights with people who just happen to be driving by when you're out cruising.

You also have the freedom to mod your chosen vehicle as you see fit. Any and all body and internal components are available from a variety of real manufacturers. My weapon of choice: a simply venomous little Black Ford Focus, much like the one pictured below, which cleaned the street with every...



Hey.


Why you laughin'?


Come one man, seriously...


Dude, that car kicked...


Cut it out, man!!!


Come on, stop laughing!!!


Whatever, I thought it was bad ass...


#1 Pro Wrestling (NES)


The 80's were good years to be a child. Play time with your friends wasn't supposed to be "structured and educational." Unlike today, at around 10 years old, kids weren't being prepped (brainwashed) for the SATs, college, and career. Back then a boy was able to enjoy faux pas things like toy guns, giant robots with laser cannons, ninjas, swords, and sports without the intervention of pushy parents.



This is where some of my fondest video game memories were formed. Back in the days of yore, I would stay with my grandmom in the Summer because there were more kids there than in my neighborhood. In between games of war in the morning and baseball in the afternoon, we would pop in Pro Wrestling at lunch and take turns kicking the crap out of each other with our favorite characters.

All Hail, Kin Corn Karn!!!



Honorable mention goes out to the following games: Excitebike, Grand Turismo 2, Dead or Alive Extreme Beach Volleyball, Pigskin 621 AD.

Special mention needs be made of Rockstar's State of Emergency. While this is not an outright "sports" game, it did serve as such one drunken afternoon at a friend's house. Carnage and violence in the form of a scoring competition has never been so much fun. I think.



Worst Sports Game of All Time: Manchester United Club Football (Xbox/PS2/PC)



All Manchester United had to do last year was beat West Ham. That's it. All the much-touted "god's gift" to soccer had to do was top the "low end of the totem poll" in one game and Sheffield United (aka the MIGHTY BLADES!!!) wouldn't have been relegated. Beat those damn Cheaters. Bunch a tired wankers. The whole thing really pissed off Boromir!!! Ok, I never played the game, but I hate it on principle. I'm not bitter or anything.

3 Comments:

At February 15, 2008 at 1:48 PM , Anonymous Karen said...

I am master of the WIIUNIVERSE

 
At February 15, 2008 at 2:09 PM , Blogger robustyoungsoul said...

Holy crap, I had completely forgotten about Pigskin 621 AD, and I too had a great time with Pro Wrestling back in the 8-bit days.

That said, you are clearly the biggest poseur ever. A snowboarding game AND a skateboarding game?!?!? Topped off with a CAR RACING game??? That is nothing short of horrible. I see from the soundtracks that you were are also a big fan of all the poseur bands like Sum 41. Unbelievable.

A worthy choice for worst game though. Man U is easily as annoying as the Yankees. Ronaldo = Derek Jeter * 1000000.

 
At February 18, 2008 at 10:38 AM , Blogger LastBestAngryMan said...

I'm sorry...I thought this category was games based on SPORTS.

You appear to have missed the memo.

 

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