With the upcoming release this week of the most recent installment of MLB: The Show, one of the top sports games out there, it seemed right to finally utilize this idea for a Pick-Six. “The Show” has become one of the biggest gaming franchises in the world in the last few years, with fans buying Playstation 4’s just to be able to play it. For that, I figured it’d be perfect to take a look at the greatest sports video games of all-time.
6. MLB 10: The Show
It’s only fitting to start this list honoring The Show’s modern day release with a classic version of the game. This rendition of the series pushed The Show into its current stardom, beginning its reputation for its amazing graphics and in-depth experience. The previous versions of the games had some bugs and glitches that hindered the gameplay, but this game nailed down every little detail and made the perfect baseball game for its time. It added in the ever-famous Home Run Derby to the series, and continued on the trend of making the most in-depth game it could possibly make, with weekly roster updates to keep everything current and relevant. Compared to the games of today, it doesn’t match up graphically or with all of the minor details, but it makes the list for how it set the tone for future games in the series.
I personally never played this game, which probably hurts its score in the long run as I don’t know too much about it. However, it’s one of those games that everyone raves about, so I think it deserves to make it onto the list. Fighting a long list of contenders before getting a chance at the legendary Mike Tyson, “Little Mac” became a big hero for gamers in one of the most popular games of all-time. The final fight with “Iron Mike” is an all-time classic moment, one that I never got to be a part of, and it is undoubtedly the best boxing game of all-time.
4. NBA Jam
This game has a couple of different versions, including a 2010 remake with updated graphics and players, but I’m just talking about the whole experience with this one. I never played the older version, but if the 2010 version was any implication of how great this game was back in the day, it was one of the best in history. The over-the-top nature of it mixed with the big names made it a fun play for basketball fans. It reminds me of the NBA Street games that came out around 2005, which I struggled to keep off of this list. The exaggeration, the “Boom-shaka-laka”’s, and rims setting on fire from players shooting too well, the whole game was a unique experience and gave basketball fans the true arcade game to enjoy.
3. NBA 2K11
Keeping up with the basketball theme, NBA 2K11 truly flipped the script when it came to basketball games. The NBA Live series was falling completely out of the equation, and the 2K series was gaining momentum at a furious pace. The 2K11 rendition of the series really made the series a big name, which is easy to do with the biggest name in basketball history on the cover: the one and only Michael Jordan. The game featured a whole “Jordan Challenge”, where you went through Jordan’s career and his key moments throughout his time with the Bulls. They even added a career mode where you start as a rookie version of Jordan and work your way up to become the biggest legend in basketball history. Also included in NBA 2K11 was being able to play with some classic teams from the past, like the 1986 Boston Celtics or 1998 Chicago Bulls, or the (at the time) current super-team of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat. It started the trend of superstar teams from the past being able to face off with each other, or even taking on the Warriors or Cavaliers of today. This game made the series what it is today, and is truly historic for the basketball gaming world.
2. ESPN NFL 2K5
Everyone loves the Madden franchise, but nothing can compare to the perfection that is ESPN NFL 2K5. Unfortunately, like the top game in this list, it was the last rendition of the series, but like the saying goes, “you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone”. Between the amazing gameplay, the perfect presentation, and the ability to have Chris Berman present a complete halftime show on ESPN in the middle of your game, this was absolutely perfect. The game added in the idea of going back to your “crib” and storing all of your collectibles earned from games and solo challenges on shelves all around your house. The flawless mix of the franchise and solo challenge modes made it possible to play this game for years without getting sick of it. All I want is for Madden to falter out today and for 2K to come back into the equation to make the most perfect football game ever created.
1. MVP Baseball 2005
For those that don’t remember the MVP Baseball series, it was to the gaming world what The Show is now. It was THE baseball game, and it changed the world when it came to sports gaming. It was a slight improvement on the graphics side of things, but the overall gameplay and depth of everything was amazing. It also featured the primetime of baseball of the last 16 years, with amazing rosters on the Red Sox, Yankees, Cardinals, Angels, etc. You can even add Barry Bonds to the list of talent in this game, although he had the same honor Bill Belichick is getting in the Madden games where his name couldn’t be used due to a rights issue. It’s replay value is insane, especially for a time when people would buy the new sports game solely for its roster and some slight improvements. It’s the best game of all-time, and it’s a shame the series stopped after this rendition, although we were given the greatness of The Show right after this year.