The presentation package in sports is an important part of the viewing experience. From the pregame predictions, to the halftime show highlights, to the postgame analysis, there’s no doubt the impact presentation has to watching and enjoying sports. Most sports video games get the gameplay right. The juke stick in Madden, the deke stick in NHL, and analog shooting in NBA 2K, all help exude realism when it comes to replicating what’s seen on the field, ice, or court. But one aspect that many sports games in the past and present fail to get right is the presentation, and while not as important as the gameplay, it gives a game an added dimension of reality. So, while there are a plethora of games that couldn’t hold a candle to the presentation of their real world counterparts, here are 5 games that did.
5. NCAA Football 14
Sadly, the last NCAA Football game to be made is easily the best college football of all time. With the ESPN license, it insured that many of the features you saw on Saturdays, translated to the virtual representation. The score ticker at the bottom helps make your college football world come to life. Many a time I would check to see the score of a conference rival, hoping they would be down 40-7 to an out of conference opponent. Also aiding in that realism is the constant updates from Rece Davis on the big games of the day, complete with in-game statistics. The quick highlights right after a nice play accompanied by the ESPN logo, or the conference logo if you’re playing a conference game, is another great touch. For any college football fan, this game is as close to the real thing as you’re going to get.
4. NHL 17
The EA Sports NHL franchise has been one of most consistent sports games when it comes to gameplay for a good while. But starting with NHL 15, EA took the presentation of the series to the next level. With the integration of the NBC Sports license, it’s like Rivalry Wednesday on your console. Every game starts with a skyview of the home city, followed by real life footage of Doc Emrick and Eddie Olczyk discussing the game about to be played. The first time you see Doc and Eddie talking live on screen is a mind blowing experience for any avid sports game fan. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen in a sports video game. Accompany that with the NBC Sports on screen graphics, and that familiar NBC Replay transition, NHL 17 looks just as good as it plays.
3. NCAA Basketball 10
First things first. The gameplay of this game, even when it was released, was subpar compared to NBA 2k10, but this isn’t about gameplay, it’s about presentation, and NCAA Basketball 10 fails to disappoint in that aspect. What makes this game unique is that it offers two different network presentations to choose from. You can pick the ESPN package, equip with all of their on screen graphics, and with Dick Vitale and Brad Nessler on commentary. Or, you can pick the CBS package, with their graphics, and Gus Johnson and Bill Rafferty in the booth. From the starting line ups, to the pre-game rankings list, its been over 7 years and there hasn’t been a sports game with the same presentation options.
2. NBA 2K17
For the past few years, the NBA 2K series has been the cream of the crop of sports video games. Last year in NBA 2K16, the presentation started to be on par with the almost flawless gameplay, but in this year’s edition, the team at 2K made some significant strides. The beginning of every game starts with three-fourths of the Inside the NBA crew, Shaq, EJ, and Kenny giving their pregame analysis with the guys bantering in a multitude of different ways, rarely hearing the same anecdote twice. The crew rejoins you for a halftime show with highlights and a breakdown of the 1st half of gameplay. The game concludes with a postgame show, again with highlights, and a conversation with the TNT guys. All is done extremely well, and there’s a great amount of detail put into each segment. Something that was added in this game is the addition of multiple commentary packages. With Kevin Harlan as the only permanent booth fixture, Doris Burke, Clark Kellogg, Greg Anthony, Chris Webber, Steve Smith, and Brent Barry all cycle through every game you play. Each commentator has their own unique style and stories that add a lot of variety between games played. NBA 2k17’s amazing presentation is part of why this is the greatest basketball game of all time.
1. Espn NFL 2k5
ESPN NFL 2K5 is the crown jewel of sports game presentations. This is exactly how all sports games should be made, and sadly, though the previous four games on this list have done a fantastic job, NFL 2K outshines all of them. Even though the game is almost 15 years old, there are features that are still revolutionary to the world of sports games. The game has a great pregame and postgame show hosted by Chris Berman, along with all the ESPN Sunday Night and Monday Night Football graphics. But, the best component of the game is the weekly Sportscenter update by the aforesaid Berman. Berman goes through all aspects of your NFL universe, with recaps of all the previous weeks games. Trey Wingo discusses all of the injuries, trades, and free agent signing. And Mel Kiper goes through his various draft boards each week. For those who are rabid Sportscenter fans, its eerily close to what you actually see on tv. Sure, it’s on the ps2 and the graphics are dated, but even so, the Sportscenter show still holds up to this day. No sports game since, has done a full weekly wrap up show like 2K, and its been long overdue for a next generation overhaul. The legacy this game has left, mostly due because of the superb presentation, is why it’s number one on this list.