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Breaking Down 2012's Sports Video Games of the Year

image from NBA 2K13
image from NBA 2K13
Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIDecember 6, 2012

MyCareer from NBA 2K13, the Attitude Era from WWE 13 and Manager Mode from FIFA 13 were three of the highlights of my sports gaming experiences this year. Overall, 2012 has been a strong year for sports gaming.

While some games were better than others, very few could be classified as clunkers. I have my favorites, but to get a broader opinion on the year's sports games I enlisted the assistance of my B/R brethren. 

Together, we came up with the writer's choice for the sports video game awards.

As I do with almost every sports gaming review, I broke this into categories. The awards are for excellence in: graphics, soundtrack, commentary, gameplay, presentation, feature set, online play and finally the game of the year.

Here we go:


Best Graphics and Animation

My Take

No sports game was as visually appealing as MLB 12 The Show. From the player models, to stadiums and everything in between, this game is beautiful.

When you consider the size of the rosters in major league baseball, the accuracy in the player likenesses is stunning.

The Show gets my vote.


The Writers Have Spoken, And the Winner is

NBA 2K13

It was a close race between The Show, FIFA 13 and NBA 2K13, but ultimately NBA 2K13 received the most votes.


What They Said

Cody Guinn Bleacher Report Featured Columnist 

"The 2K team continues to outdo themselves each year and this year was no different. One of the best visual sport games I've ever played."


Best Commentary


My Take

I say every year how this aspect of sports gaming is so neglected. Many gamers have become accustomed to lowering the volume or tuning the commentary out. Most sports games have commentary that gets really repetitive after a while.

MLB 12 The Show does not fall into that category, though. You will of course hear some repeats, it is virtually impossible not to, but for the most part, I find myself listening to every word.

I especially love the in-game stat references to my current season. It can't be stressed enough how much that adds to the experience for me. 


The Writers Have Spoken, And the Winner is...

MLB 12 The Show

Take a listen to the winner in action:


This was yet another close race with NBA 2K13, but The Show earns the narrow victory.


What They Said

Richard Langford - B/R Featured Columnist 

"I usually listen to music while I'm playing." You see, that's exactly what I'm talking about. Tuning the commentary out.


Best Soundtrack


My Take

This was perhaps the easiest choice of all for me, it is clearly NBA 2K13. I Ain't No Joke and The World Is Yours plays while I'm making trades?

Are you kidding me?

That's a slam dunk.


The Writers Have Spoken, And the Winner is...

NBA 2K13

The intro to the game gives you a good idea of what to expect.


This wasn't unanimous, but NBA 2K13 was the choice of the majority.


What They Said

David Daniels, Featured Columnist for B/R

"Notorious B.I.G., Nas, Jay-Z (like 47 times), Rakim and Kanye West on one video game? That wealth of hip-hop legends should not only win it the best soundtrack of the year, but put it in the discussion for greatest ever."


Gameplay and Realism


My Take

This was a tough one for me, but I gave it to NBA 2K13 for a few reasons. The way each player feels different to control, and the new dribble stick pushed it over the top for me.

Games like MLB 12 The Show stood out, as did NHL 13, and Madden 13, but 2K13 gets the nod from me.


The Writers Have Spoken, And the Winner is...

MLB 12 The Show

Here's a nice video of the game's great gameplay.


As it was among my favorites, I can't dispute the consensus. This is an excellent overall game.


What They Said

Brandon Galvin, Featured Columnist for B/R 

"MLB 12 The Show continues to shine brightest from a gameplay standard. Madden 13 was a step up from last year due to the new engine, but The Show is still the smoothest among all sports games."


Best Presentation


My Take

Playing from the broadcast camera views, both MLB 12 The Show and NBA 2K13 are presented with awesome TV-style qualities. However, WWE 13 also brings the pain in this aspect with the in-match camera angles and cut-scenes.

Yet another tough choice, but I'll go with The Show. It came down to the little things as the top games in this category excel at the basics.

The Show has the best injury presentation, and the varied pitcher-to-batter camera angles are based on the camera placement at each ballpark.

I'm sold.


The Writers Have Spoken, And the Winner is...

NBA 2K13

Check out this video that shows pre-game rituals, opening lineups, gameplay and overall presentation.


What They Said

Chris Hummer, Featured Columnist for B/R

"NBA 2K13 - The game just looks like it's a NBA broadcast. It looks like your watching the game from your couch."


Best Feature Set


My Take

I am really torn here between WWE 13 and NBA 2K13, but I'd have to give the nod to WWE 13. There has never been a more verbose set of customization options and game modes in a sports game—ever.

From all the editing of superstars and arenas, to the huge WWE Universe, the Attitude Era mode and the best create-a-player feature on the planet, this is my pick for best feature set.


The Writers Have Spoken, And the Winner is...

WWE 13

Take a look at Randy Orton coming to the ring in an arena I created. It's filled with awesomeness.


What They Said

Cody Guinn, Featured Columnist for B/R

"With the inclusion of Attitude Era mode as well as improvements to the creation suite and Universe Mode, this game not only had the best set of game modes in WWE gaming history, but I feel it was the best of any sports game in 2012."


Best Online Play


My Take

This was one of the easier selections for me. Madden 13 offered an excellent online experience in most every instance. The best compliment I can give a game in regards to online play is to that at times, I forget I'm playing online.

Beyond being extra aggressive and using more profanity, from a sheer gameplay dynamic, I can lose track that I'm battling an invisible opponent.


The Writers Have Spoken, And the Winner is...

Madden 13

This was the biggest blowout of any of the individual categories. Nearly every polled writer chose Madden 13's online play as the best.


What They Said

Cody Guinn, Featured Columnist for B/R

"Online was very solid this year with Ultimate Team as well as online Connected Careers. If gameplay is improved next year with the current online features, Madden 14 has potential to be the top game in 2014."


Sports Game of the Year


My Take

This really came down to two games for me: MLB 12 the Show and NBA 2K13. I'm going with NBA 2K because of the overall cohesion of the product.

The game excels in every area, but the way it is put together as one huge and great basketball experience is amazing. There are at least three different modes in the game that you can become completely addicted to.

They hold a ton of value singularly or as a group. As an overall product, there is none better than NBA 2K13.


The Writers Have Spoken, And the Winner is...

NBA 2K13

It was funny that the responses were seemingly all over the board in the individual categories, but when it came down to game of the year, it wasn't even close.

NBA 2K13 won in a landslide.

In my opinion, NBA 2K13 deserves some consideration for game of the year—regardless of genre.


What They Said

Chris Hummer, Featured Columnist for B/R

Just an awesome all-around game. Realistic, fun and really brings a fantastic NBA experience.


What Do You Say?

This is intended to be a two-part article. This piece is designed to share the thoughts of B/R writers, but I encourage you to make your voices heard in the poll and in the comments.

I will publish the second part of this article with the results of the reader's poll and comments on Dec. 20. Be sure to chime in and tells us what you think.


Follow Brian Mazique and Franchiseplay on YouTube and Twitter for reactions, analysis and news from the world of sports and sports video games

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