In the first two installments of STACK’s 2011 Holiday Video Game Gift Guide, we reviewed shooters and fighting games. Here, we break down the best sports games to add to your shopping list. NBA 2K12 Out on: XBox 360, PS3, PSP, PC, Wii
Having mastered single-play mode, the NBA 2K series presents The Association deeply and in fine detail. You actually have to balance your rotation with role players and make sure everyone on the roster gets along. 2K12 features more legends than appeared in 2K11. After unlocking, you can play as old teams, under rules that applied in that era—filmed in black and white. Fluid gameplay and a streamlined play-calling system make this a no-brainer for basketball fans. Ask for it if: You’re a hoops junkie and the lockout never got you down.
Madden 12 Out on: XBox 360, PS3, Wii, PSP
New broadcast camera angles and overhead blimp shots add value to franchise mode, which got a total overhaul. New features in Madden 12 include a scouting system, rosters to allow for off-season cut days and even a collision system, which prevents players from sliding into place to make plays. Plus, you’ll find custom playbooks, new ratings for franchise players and, overall, a game that feels how football looks on TV. Ask for it if: You’re on the varsity, you ride the bench or you’re an aspiring coach.
FIFA 12 Out on: XBox 360, PS3, Wii, 3DS, PSP
If you get on the pitch with your teammates at school and haven’t tried the FIFA series, you’re missing out. It’s the premiere soccer title on the market and one of the most heavily played games in the world. An all-new player collision system make player interaction more realistic, and CPU-controlled players move more authentically, thanks to Pro Player Intelligence. With a plethora of teams and leagues to choose from, FIFA 12 is the best choice for soccer players. Ask for it if: You’d rather watch Champions League than the NFL.
NHL 12 Out on: XBox 360, PS3
Even gamers who’ve never laced up a pair of skates should give NHL 12 a try. It’s immersive and incredibly detailed. The designers at EA have expertly captured the gut level reality of NHL hockey. Bottom line: the game is loads of fun to play. Plus, this year, you’ll be able to play the Winter Classic, with specific crowd gear and weather to match. Even if you’re not a hockey nut, NHL 12 represents one of the best sports games of the year. It’s definitely worth a try if you’re tired of the same old same old. Ask for it if: You heard your older brother talking about NHL ’94.