Sports and Racing. What do these genres have in common? More than anything, these are the genres of annualisation. Every year, you will see the same names on the release list. While this doesn’t mean we will feature those same names on the best-of lists. I remember when WWE games were good, but 2K certainly managed to derail that train.
After that build-up, I should probably just let you know that this will feature several of the same names. On that, it’s time to list the best Sports and Racing games of 2022 (at least the ones we know about).
Also in Wccftech’s Best Games of 2022 lists: Shooters, Fighting, Platformer, Adventure, Indie, Action, Horror, Multiplayer, Strategy/Simulation, and RPG.
Genre: Sports (Management Sim). Platforms: PC (core game). PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, Nintendo Switch, Mobile (other versions).
I like to believe Sports Interactive have looked at the annualised franchise trap and escaped it. I haven’t yet reviewed 2022’s release, which is a first for me – which is a real sign that life has gotten over the top of me. Still, I can briefly cover what I thought from my time with it, and there is a bit of an issue with it being an annual release.
Football Manager 2023 is an improvement on Football Manager 2022. It should be, but the gains are far more limited than some recent outings, showing this as more of a refinement than a change year. The AI has been improved on and off the pitch, with on-pitch engine improvements, making the game look smoother. There are also improvements to the design of all the graphs, making the game more approachable. It’s an improvement and the best sports simulation game in the world.
Genre: Racing. Platform: PlayStation 5.
Gran Turismo is a divisive game. At least it’s divisive in my brain. When I reviewed it, as you’ll see from the conclusion before, I couldn’t deny how excellent the racing is. It was impossible not to be enamoured by the detail of the cars, both driving them and simply looking at them. However, there are issues of it not valuing the player’s time outside of racing. Post-launch explained part of this with atrocious money-grabbing microtransactions.
Still, I can’t deny that the racing is excellent; it’s just a shame Polyphony Digital didn’t understand people played Gran Turismo for that (and what were awesome career modes), not for slow-burn nonsense.
Gran Turismo 7 is an excellent game. It looks fantastic, with features like the photo and scapes modes, making the game look eerily photo-realistic. On the track, racing is top-notch. Every car feels unique; every change in the garage and every decision on the track matters. However, it doesn’t mean there aren’t issues. Always online requirements have failed me numerous times and lost progress when the servers have died; this is before launch. In addition to this, there’s just a looming issue of time; the game doesn’t value your time with the campaign (cafe menus), having it move at a glacially slow pace at best. Also, the soundtrack is atrocious. Still, whatever faults I find, they are far outweighed by overwhelming positives.
NBA 2K23 (9/10)
Genre: Sports. Platform: Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5 (next-gen); PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch (last-gen)
Back when I was in school, I used to play Hoopball. It was always an advantage for me that I had that height. I used to play NBA Basketball back on the PlayStation 1, always enjoying my time with it. I’ve also played a few of the recent titles, but 2K had driven me away by rampant monetisation tactics.
Still, having had hands-on with this year’s version, I can’t help but agree with Nate. On-Court action is well-balanced, and the career mode has a reasonable depth and choice. Other aspects, such as the city, and abuse of microtransactions, have improved since the last NBA 2K title I’d played; all steps in the right direction and make this an excellent game.
NBA 2K23 builds on last year’s rock-solid entry with some well-considered on-court changes, a deeper, more satisfying career mode, and an array of accessible nostalgia-tweaking content. Most refreshingly, almost none of these additions are designed to push extra spending. If Visual Concepts stays hungry, NBA 2K23 could be the beginning of a new dynasty that would do its cover star proud.
GRID Legends (7.5/10)
Genre: Racing. Platforms: PC, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series S/X, Xbox One.
GRID Legends marked a step up from 2019’s GRID. Codemasters has recently pushed across multiple franchises to include a story in their racing games, and GRID Legends is no different. The story was fun, though still not to a level that you could class as great.
What helps GRID Legends stand out is the excellent racing that leans towards arcade racing without going too far and essentially turning into a kart racing title. Featuring a slew of modes, a strong AI to race against, and a host of excellently designed cars that feel and run very differently, this is a game well worth picking up.
Here’s what Nate thought:
Grid Legends is an exciting and inviting arcade racing romp, but it doesn’t outpace the competition in any particular way. The game’s new story mode is more cringey than captivating and a middling amount of content may eventually make you feel like you’re circling the same old track. Grid Legends is worth considering if you’re looking for some approachable asphalt action, but you may want to wait until the Blue Book price comes down a bit.
Some extra games always deserve at least a mention from the sports and racing genres, usually annualised titles – some of which you will see below. What has been clear, particularly with EA’s purchase of Codemasters, is that they will hold a bit of a stranglehold on the racing genre, particularly if they can improve on their recent revival of Need for Speed.
- FIFA 23
- PGA Tour 2K23
- F1 22
- F1 Manager 2022
- Need for Speed Unbound (7.5/10)
Rarely the strongest of genres due to the frequent annualised releases, Sports and Racing have both been strong in 2022. Codemasters were successful with F1, and GRID Legends was an arcade joy (if that’s what you want). 2K have also seen considerable improvements, though WWE was still lacking. It all bodes well for the future, so let’s roll on to 2023.