There’s an obsession with incremental changes and bullet-point features in the sports game scene, one which challenges fan’s ability to take a step back and assess each game as its own standalone title. It’s something I try and address in my own sports reviews on this site, and it’s something I’m taking to its logical conclusion here in this Quixotic attempt to pluck one game out of hundreds and call it the “best”.
Sports games by their nature don’t turn up for each new season as entirely fresh products. The economics of the industry have determined that they re-use the same engine and models for years at a time, which means the difference between them can often be limited to current uniforms, a few new features and some adjustments to ball physics. And those changes are usually influenced as much by fan feedback as they are by the development teams working on them.
So it’s tough looking at say Madden 17 as something entirely separate, since its creation was heavily influenced by the sales and reception of Madden 16, and it will in turn play a big part in how Madden 18 is designed. How do you pick one of those games and say, ok, THIS ONE is the best, when much of what made it great may have been inspired by—or come directly from—an entirely different video game?
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