It’s been another safe year for the sport and racing genres. As you can see, every one of our entries for this year’s award is either a sequel or part of an annual franchise. This is by no means a bad thing, however. Usually, when we get a new contender on the block they often pale in comparison to tried and tested alternatives. Ubisoft, for instance, recently tried to take a punt at the FIFA/PES crowd with Pure Football and failed. Though not a completely new sporting IP, this year saw the return of NBA Live via EA Sports. The game ultimately flopped, especially when positioned next to 2K’s much better NBA 2K14.
As for this year’s winner, again, there are no real surprises. FIFA 14 romped home with a landslide victory, asserting its dominance within the genre for another year running. To some this may seem unfair or unjustified considering how incremental EA Sports is in updating its flagship title. The truth is, whether playing 14, 13, or any recent entry in the series, FIFA still carries its trademark brand of unadulterated fun.
With that said, 2013 did mark the biggest change for the series since it’s re-ascension in the late 2000s. Striving for realism, EA tweaked a number of the games systems. The changes haven’t been universally popular yet mark a slight change in direction. This change is further emphasised in the PS4 and Xbox One versions of FIFA 14. Adopting the heavily-publicised Ignite engine, these versions of FIFA feel the most definitive with an enhanced amount of detail and organic player interactions.
In second we have another EA title, this time from Ghost Games. Like several big-name franchises Need For Speed has become an annual affair, the acclaimed IP passed from studio to studio year in, year out. With talented developers such as DICE and Criterion having worked on the series, sculpting the next chapter was unenviable task. Not only that, the unblooded Ghost Games had to make an NFS game suited to new gaming hardware. These slight worries amounted to nothing, however. Rivals dished up a familiar yet refined racing experience with intuitive multiplayer integration, slick visuals and a healthy roster of cars.
Carrying the torch for racing sims, Gran Turismo 6 also managed to grab a spot on this year’s podium. Unlike our first and second place winners, the changes between Gran Turismo 6 and its predecessors were perhaps less noticeable. It’s still the same, insanely detailed racer with a lengthy, progressive single player component. Though still moderately accessible, Gran Turismo 6 is one for the fans, whether they have history with the series or they are just a die-hard petrol-head. Featuring a wealth of iconic tracks and cars, it’s a racing fan’s nirvana.
Just missing out on those top spots we had NBA 2K14, the definitive basketball experience on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Racers Forza 5, F1 2013, and GRID 2 also followed with Football Manager 14 and PES bringing up the rear.
FIFA 14 is TheSixthAxis’ Game of the Year in the Sports and Racing category.