It’s fun killing orcs, finding armor upgrades and slaying dragons. For most gamers, video games are a way to escape our troubles in the real world and live in the imagination of the developers. But what happens when developers focus on stuff right here in the real world to base their games on? I’m not talking about Cooking Mama — I’m talking about sports! It may be true that sports games lack creativity in their nature, but what they lack in unique ideas they make up for with creating uncannily realistic simulations of the best sports. Why are sports video games great? It’s simple, really — sports games put us under the helmet of Peyton Manning or in a LeBron James jersey, which is as close as a regular Joe like me will ever get to being a professional athlete.
It can be tough to sort out the sports games that are more than just a roster update from last year’s game, with so many sports games dropping every year. So, we’re here to help. Without further ado, here are the top five best sports games that were released in 2014 for the PS4 and Xbox One.
1. NBA 2K15
With so many major moves made in the NBA offseason, we obviously expected NBA 2K15 to include a major roster update. LeBron went back to the Cavaliers, Chauncey Billups and Derek Fisher both retired and Andrew Wiggins went to the Timberwolves. But what we didn’t expect from NBA 2K15 was the significant upgrade in ball handling, player movement and presentation from its predecessor, mostly due to the added animations. You can also team up with other players online and create your own Big Three to dominate the online rankings.
Price: $57.30 (4 percent off MSRP)
- New shot meter
- Added animations
- Incredible presentation
- Tough to defend elite players
- LeBron’s hairline
- Create a Player mode can create truly terrifying beings
- Covered opponents make more shots than they should
2. NHL 15
If there’s one thing you can definitely say about NHL 15, it’s that the graphics are a major upgrade from last year’s well-received NHL 14. And, the fights are even more badass. There are some minor AI issues, though, as AI players will occasionally dump the puck into their own goal. But in NHL 15, every player is affected by real-world physics that can create an up to 12-man pileup, and it’s all presented through an authentic NBC Sports-style broadcast. Playing as Sidney Crosby has never felt so realistic!
Price: $50.82 (15 percent off MSRP)
- Fantastic gameplay
- Authentic NBC Sports Broadcasts
- Photo-realistic graphics
- Puck control
- Light on number of modes
- Practice is only one player vs. goalie with no other options
- AI issues
- Tough goalies
3. EA Sports UFC
EA has taken a couple attempts at MMA already, and failed miserably. But with EA Sports UFC, the developers at EA Canada pretty much nailed it. If you love Ronda Rousey’s armbars, Cain Velasquez’s heart and Jon Jones’ domination in the octagon, EA Sports UFC is the game for you. It is the best MMA game made to date, with high quality graphics, realistic combat and great online play. Its only major flaw is that the fear of entering the octagon against a vicious opponent doesn’t translate at all to the game, but that won’t stop you from wanting to keep playing and getting knockout after knockout.
Price: $29.99 (50 percent off MSRP)
- Great presentation
- Fantastic graphics
- Online fights
- Plethora of combat options
- Tough submission/submission defense
- No fear created in the ring
- Facing yourself in an online match-up (Jon Jones vs. Jon Jones)
- Learning curve
4. FIFA 15
Soccer has the most emotional players and fans, which is something that is usually hard to translate into a sports game. Because of this, EA added over 600 facial expression animations to FIFA 15. EA said from day one of the reveal that emotional realism would be the focus of this year’s FIFA 15, and that’s certainly apparent. That’s not the only thing EA made changes to though, as they’ve also included fully-licensed Premier League grounds and shifted importance back to dribbling again. It also helps that it is the best-looking soccer game to date, and plays like a dream.
Price: $53.89 (10 percent off MSRP)
- Fast and tight gameplay
- Impressive broadcast-style presentation
- Incredibly realistic graphics
- Premier League grounds
- Lack of new features from its predecessor
- Speedier than real soccer matches
- Superhero goalies
- Ball disappears into the crowd
5. Madden 15
We’re all familiar with Madden fatigue, but Madden 15 isn’t just another roster update (like Madden 25 and Madden 13 were). Instead, Madden 15 makes some substantial updates to the defensive side of things. Not only has the defense been overhauled, but the graphics are second to none for ANY video game, not just sports games. Running isn’t as arcadey as it has been in past iterations of Madden, so when you actually break through the defense on a dive play it actually feels much more rewarding. EA has (thankfully) revitalized the Madden franchise with the most impressive football game yet. Plus, it’s likely the only chance you have at bringing the Vikings to the Superbowl.
- Defensive upgrades
- Impressive graphics
- Bone-crunching hits
- Ultimate Team Online
- Abundance of modes
- Lack of exciting commentary
- Minor physics bugs
- Small player bug
- Sliders need to be adjusted manually for a more realistic experience
- Quarterbacks will spiral downward after throwing one interception