Sports video games to look out for this holiday season
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Whether it’s buying new video games for the next generation of consoles or if it’s finding retro games on eBay or retro game stores, consumption is at an all-time high.
The lockdowns as a result of the coronavirus pandemic are partly responsible. Nielsen data in April revealed that there was a 45% spike in video game consumption in April, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
With the Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and the PlayStation 5 all hitting the market before the holiday season, sports video games are going to be among the hot-ticket gift items.
There are plenty of sports video games new and old that are still perfectly great to play as well as some games you may not have heard about before.
Read below for a quick guide to sports video games this holiday season.
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The mainstream games are always going to entertain all types of gamers. You can't really go wrong if you're choosing any of these games as gifts for your loved ones. With Black Friday and other holiday deals going on, you could find these games online or at your local store for about $20 to $30 cheaper than any other part of the year.
MADDEN NFL 21: It’s the latest installment of the Madden franchise with Baltimore Ravens star Lamar Jackson on the cover. While legacy Madden fans have lamented the lack of an in-depth franchise mode, the game still offers Madden Ultimate Team and Superstar mode. The game is expected to hit next-gen consoles in December. (Play on: Xbox One, PS4, Steam, PC, iOS or Android)
NBA 2K21: NBA 2K21 has been the only pro basketball game on the market for a few years and has dominated in sales. The NBA even has its own 2K League for the hardcore pro gamers. The game features in-depth MyGM, MyPlayer and MyTeam modes among other cool features. There are three versions of the game – Mamba Edition, which features the late Kobe Bryant, the current-gen version, which has Damian Lillard on the cover, and the next-gen version, which has Zion Williamson on the cover. (Play on: Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PS4/5, Nintendo Switch, PC, Steam)
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FIFA 21: FIFA21 is the latest soccer installment for EA Sports. PSG star Kylian Mbappe is on the cover of this game. The game has Ultimate Team, Career and VOLTA Football modes, but because of certain licensing deals teams like Juventus, Roma, River Plate, Boca Juniors and Corinthians are not in the game. The game won’t be on next-gen consoles until December. (Play on: Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC)
NHL 21: The latest pro hockey game is NHL 21. Washington Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin graces the cover of the game. It’s considered to be one of the better hockey games in recent memory for EA Sports, and with the 2020-21 NHL season up in the air, it may be the only hockey fans get for now. Be a Pro mode and World of Chel both return for the game. EA Sports said gamers will be able to play the game on the next-gen consoles, but it doesn’t appear there will be a separate next-gen game. (Play on: Xbox One, PS4)
PGA TOUR 2K21: When’s the last time a PGA Tour game was made? It’s been several years since gamers got to hit the virtual links. But the game is available for the holidays. The game features a career mode and a build-a-course mode. It also has the full PGA Tour license. The game is not on next-gen consoles yet. Justin Thomas is on the cover. (Play on: Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC, Steam)
UFC 4: Jorge Masvidal and Israel Adesanya are some of the biggest names in the UFC and they are featured on the fourth installment of this game. The game features a career mode that is designed to teach players about the world of mixed martial arts and different disciplines. It also has more than 200 fighters and a multiplayer mode. The game is not on next-gen consoles yet. (Play on: Xbox One, PS4)
TONY HAWK PRO SKATER 1+2: Tony Hawk and Activision came out with a remastered version of the classic Tony Hawk Pro Skater video games. The first two games of the series are available and are as good or even better than the original versions. It’s a big nostalgia bomb for the older gamer who grew up on PlayStation. The soundtrack is also a massive hit. (Play on: Xbox One, PS4 and PC)
MLB THE SHOW 20: While baseball season is right around the corner, if your loved one missed out on MLB The Show over the summer now would be a good time to pick it up to get ready for the 2021 season. With Javy Baez on the cover, the game includes the classics like Franchise Mode, Road to the Show, March to October, Showdown and Custom Leagues. The game is only playable on PS4.
NASCAR HEAT 5: NASCAR Heat is the only console NASCAR-specific game. There are two versions, which were released in July – the gold edition and the standard edition. The gold edition has Tony Stewart on the cover while the standard edition has cup champion Chase Elliott on the cover. The game features several different NASCAR series, a career mode, different tracks and multiplayer modes. (Play on: Xbox One, PS4, Steam, PC)
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If you are looking for an alternative to mainstream sports games, these games below might be worth taking a look at. You can find a majority of these games online and some might even be at your local store. The prices do vary.
DOUG FLUTIE’S MAXIMUM FOOTBALL 2020: Doug Flutie’s Maximum Football was created as an alternative to the Madden series. While the gameplay isn’t as fluid as anything EA Sports produced, Maximum Football allows a wide swatch of creativity, allowing players to edit and create their own teams and players on a pro, college or even Canadian football level. For those missing the NCAA Football games, Maximum Football attempts to fill the void. The game is worth trying if you’re looking for something new and different. You can find the game in the Xbox and PlayStation online stores. The game goes for about $30.
AXIS FOOTBALL 2020: Axis Football is another alternative football game that football fans who are looking for something new can devour. The 2020 edition features updated gameplay, a deep franchise mode and creative stadium appearances, among other things. The game can be found on Xbox, PS4, PC, Mac, Linux and can also be purchased via Steam for about $29.99.
SUPER MEGA BASEBALL 3: Super Mega Baseball is a different kind of baseball game that doesn’t feature the pro teams or players. But the game features beautiful stadiums, a new franchise mode and specific player boosts for each team. It’s definitely a different game than, say, MLB The Show, but someone looking for a new challenge could enjoy it. The game can be purchased for Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch and the computer via Steam. It costs about $44.99 but could be cheaper with future holiday deals.
OUT OF THE PARK BASEBALL 21: Those who love baseball with a fiery passion probably know what Out of the Park Baseball is. It’s an in-depth, texted-based baseball simulation game that allows you to be the general manager of a team and control them for season after season. The latest installment can be played on your computer on PC, Mac or Linux. It can be purchased through Steam. It was on sale for as low as $9.99.
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MARIO TENNIS ACES: Diehard Mario fans and those looking for an easy arcade-style game may love Mario Tennis Aces. The game is for Nintendo Switch and features all the favorites of the Mario world. The game can be purchased at a local retailer for as low as $26.99.
MUTANT FOOTBALL LEAGUE: Mutant Football is one of the fun football games sort of buried in your Xbox and PlayStation stores. It’s a fun and demonic football game that allows you to take a team and try to lead them to a championship. The franchises and players in the game are all play-on-words with real NFL teams and athletes. Examples of that include the Los Scandalous Damned, Blitzburg Steelheads and the New Yuck Tyrants. Bomb Shady and Hattrick Myhomies are among the stars in the game. You can find the game in your console stores and on Steam for about $19.99.
SKATER XL: Skater XL is among the list of alternative games that can definitely offer up a new challenge to the casual gamer. The game uses the thumbsticks on the controller to move the skater in the game. IGN described the game as “a serious and mostly authentic and grounded simulation of skateboarding.” You won’t get a nostalgia bomb that only Tony Hawk can offer, but you will get a challenging game. You can get it online or at a local retailer for as low as $19.99 and purchase on Steam for about $31.99.
The pandemic forced sports fans to stay home, and while they were looking at their baseball cards they also found old games like NCAA Football 14, Blitz The League 2 and Backyard Baseball. NCAA Football 14 is the last game EA Sports made in the NCAA Football series and those looking for it might need to pay a pretty penny for it on eBay or Amazon.
But games like Blitz The League, SSX Tricky, NHL Hitz and Backyard Baseball are among the games the average gamer can find online.
If you are looking to feel nostalgic this holiday season, be sure to be on the lookout for some of those classics.