From arcade masterpieces to sims that almost brought down the Madden NFL juggernaut, Sports Gamers Online counts down the Top 10 NFL Video Games of All Time.
No. 10 — Troy Aikman Football
At number 10, we start with Troy Aikman Football. Now, it wasn’t the most aesthetically pleasing game and the music was kind of weird, but on the field, there was no denying how well Troy Aikman Football played.
It was the first game that allowed deflections to be caught by receivers and defensive backs. It also allowed users to create their own plays, and add them to their season mode or exhibition. Another cool feature was that it was the first with the ability to pay players salaries during season mode.
I guess the only draw backs you can take away from this game were the facts that the AI on defense wasn’t really that great. So, if you were playing the computer, you were likely to run up the score. And, unless you’re a cowboys fan, you probably weren’t to happy with the ratings as Aikman rated all the teams and players himself, giving a lot of them one and two stars.
No. 9 — NFL GameDay 98
At number nine we have NFL Gameday 98 for Playstaton. Gameday was big because it changed the landscape of all NFL football games. It was the first game to feature fully-3D polygonal athletes, it had the deep franchise and training camp modes, and players played on the field exactly as you’d expect in real life.
Barry Sanders just couldn’t be touched, Brett Favre had a cannon of an arm, and Jerome Bettis, the games cover athlete, was as powerful as the Bus he was named after. It really was a great game for its time, and was even voted the best football game ever up to that point.
A lot of things Gameday 98 did still even resonates today like the way tackling is done. It’s just a sad story the way the franchise died out in the mid-2000s.
No. 8 — NFL 2k
At number eight we have the original NFL 2k for the Sega Dreamcast. NFL 2k took everything football fans loved in video games, and made it better.
From the great TV style broadcast presentation to the gameplay that was crisp and smooth to graphics that, aside from some minor clipping, were the best in football gaming to date. There wasn’t a franchise mode – which is why it isn’t higher – but that didn’t stop you from having fun with the season mode or the fantasy draft mode, which was, again, a first for its time. There really was nothing better in 1999 than NFL 2k.
And you’d think a game like that would’ve kept the Dreamcast going. But alas, the Dreamcast died along with the 2k Franchise, although the 2k series did have one more ace up its sleeve before its eventual end.
No. 7 — NFL QB Club 96
Number seven on this list is NFL QB club 1996. This game wasn’t the best by any means, and, in the grand scheme of things, won’t be remembered for its marvelous innovation. So why is it in the top 10?
Because it offered fans modes that no other game did. They focused on the QB in NFL QB Club 96, as you could guess by the name. So what did they do? They introduced a skills competition mode where players could take control of the QB of their choosing and compete against the other QBs of the league in contests such as mobility, obstacles, accuracy and just overall distance. Games were able to be saved; players were able to be traded. There was a season mode, pregame shows, different camera angles to choose from, and there was the no huddle offense.
The only thing that really stunk about this one was the fact that AI just seemed unbeatable. Unless you were playing against a friend, you had your work cut out for you.
No. 6 — NFL Blitz
You talk about pick up and play, NFL Blitz was the perfect pick up and play football game whether you were a diehard fan or just a casual observer. NFL Blitz took everything that fans loved about sim football and threw it out the window in this arcade beat ’em up mixed with sports.
At number six on our list, NFL Blitz had no rules, 30-yard first downs, late tackles, helicopter spins, shoulder dives, and spears. You name it, it was in the game. You can kick long field goals though if you tried to kick a field goal, you were probably made fun of.
In retrospect, it’s kind of hard to believe a game like this was sanctioned and allowed to use the NFL license based on all the concussion issues, and how this game is predicated on violence. But back then, people probably had more common sense and realize that this is just supposed to be a fun game. Still, this is a game that you can pick up and play today, and it’s just as fun and exciting as it was when it was released in 1997.
So, if you’ve never played NFL blitz before, I suggest you find a way to get your hands on it, and spend a few hours finding out why everyone loves this game.
No. 5 — MADDEN 06
We finally hit the Madden machine at Number five with Madden 06.
Now, we’re focusing on the PS2 and Xbox versions of the game because the Xbox 360 version wasn’t good…at all. And believe it or not, QB vision cone is not why the game is this high.
In fact, it was the superstar mode that debuted in Madden 06 that allowed you to take control of a player, and live the life of an NFL star. You chose your parents, and that gave you a base level of skills on what you’d be good at in the NFL.
You were able to import your player from NFL Street 2 or NCAA 06, or create someone from scratch. Either way, you started from scratch and worked your way up from a rookie to a Hall of Famer. You had to choose what movie roles to took, your look, your haircut, whether you went to the performance center to practice, sign an agent to help you get more money, and even get endorsement deals. All the real life things that players had to deal with, you got to do in Madden 06.
Unfortunately, this feature died with the addition of Connected Careers over the last few years in the Madden franchise. But man, wouldn’t it be great to see a Superstar mode like this return in the near future.