Choosing the best football, tennis, cricket and other sports games: Buyer’s Guide review

Sports simulations, virtual football matches and more
Photo of Choosing the best football, tennis, cricket and other sports games: Buyer’s Guide

As a youngster, you may have dreamed of playing football in the Premiership, or walking onto the centre court at Wimbledon with the royals watching. Of course, the odds of reaching the pinnacle of a sporting career are roughly the same as those of becoming a supermodel – slim to anorexic. However, you can easily experience the next best thing: virtual competition in the top flight on your monitor or HDTV. IT Reviews shows you how.

Every sport you can think of has been simulated on computers and consoles, even the more dubious pastimes such as snooker and darts (the latter being the only ‘sport’ where training takes place down the Dog & Duck, involving a strenuous regime of beer mat flipping, lager swilling and pork scratching scoffing).

Sports titles have a wide casual appeal and are generally easy to pick up and play a quick game, yet they can also offer huge depth, with simulated seasons and management aspects for those who seek true realism (or close to it).

Football provides the biggest-selling sports games, with the traditional battle being between EA’s FIFA series and Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer (PES). While PES was once considered the cup winner, FIFA now dominates with a beautifully flowing soccer simulation. The ‘Be a Pro’ mode offers players the chance to build a professional career as an individual footballer, and online options are extensive.

FIFA 2011
FIFA 2011 now dominates the market with its beautifully flowing soccer simulation.

The levels of realism achieved by contemporary sports have come on in leaps and bounds. Boxing games such as Fight Night Champion have superbly honed control systems which make you feel like you’re really throwing punches when jabbing the analogue stick towards your opponent. It also apes the rhythm and pace of a boxing bout brilliantly, with UFC Undisputed 2010 achieving the same feat when it comes to the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Although be warned, the latter is a tough game to get to grips with.

If tennis is your poison, then we suggest you take to the court with Virtual Tennis 4. It’s forgiving and accessible for novices, but contains a novel career mode that’s highly challenging when you crank up the difficulty. The game also supports Move and Kinect on Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360, respectively – although unfortunately the latter doesn’t work very well. Luckily, there are other much better motion-controlled sports efforts out there.

Motion control gaming
In fact, sports and fitness games go hand-in-hand with motion control. Kinect Sports on the Xbox is truly entertaining, with accurate motion detection and a diverse range of events from track and field to bowling and football. Dance Central is a thoroughly enjoyable dance fitness title, too.

Straight fitness/workout games aren’t so hot on Kinect, although Your Shape: Fitness Evolved is passable. This is still something the Wii does better with Wii Fit Plus, a fun and effective workout you can also tackle using the Balance Board peripheral.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 is a success for Sony’s
Move motion controller on the PS3.

As for the PS3 with Move, Sports Champions is an addictive pick-up-and-play title, the Sony equivalent of Kinect Sports. And Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 plays very smoothly with the Move controller on the fairway, even if the menus can be a bit more finicky to navigate with the device.