While video games come from the same vein of competition as sports, turning sports into video games doesn't always translate into success.

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This is especially true for licensed video games — games that recreate real-life professional sports. Some of them are pitiful attempts at recreating certain sports, but every once in a while, sports-based franchises will put out gems. Take Metacritic reviews for what they are, but according to them, these games are the best at recreating the experience of participating in the big leagues.

Note: General Manager sims will not be included.

12 MMA - Ultimate Fighting Championship (88)


While its PlayStation counterpart was barely any good at a 53 Metascore, Ultimate Fighting Championship for the Dreamcast made it to a solid 88. Frankly, it's the only game in the entire MMA game market that comes close to being that good.

Several reviews praised it for its realism, but at the same time, compared it to fighting games at large for its fun and addictive gameplay. It was even a runner-up for GameSpot's Best Dreamcast Game award for the year 2000.


11 Boxing - Fight Night Round 4 (88)

fight night round 4 ps3 gameplay

EA Sports' Fight Night franchise has pumped out solid boxing sims for quite a while now. After a few solid rounds, the fourth round of the fight proved to be the best, reaching a score of 88 on Metacritic for their Playstation 3 format, with its Xbox 360 variant not far behind at 87.

It's the first to feature Legacy Mode, which was essentially an enhanced career mode. It's also the first to feature Flyweight and Bantamweight classes. Overall, the most praise went to the revamped gameplay, helped out by a new physics engine.

10 Wrestling - WWF Smackdown! 2: Know Your Role (90)

wwf smackdown 2 know your role gameplay

Finishing off a trilogy of combat sports is a WWE simulation, and with how bad 2K Sports' recent renditions have been, it's easy to forget how much fun these games were when they were under the now-defunct THQ Inc.

Critically, the series' best rendition was 2000's Know Your Role for the PlayStation, which garnered a 90 from Metacritic. It's notable for being the first to have the Create-A-Superstar features that would help define this series for years to come.

9 Baseball - MLB 10: The Show (91)

mlb 10 the show ps3 gameplay close up

While Sony's more recent MLB games have been nothing short of solid, they've had a hard time replicating the quality that MLB 10: The Show reached, scoring a 91 on Metacritic for its PlayStation 3 edition.

MLB 10 was the first to feature All-Star festivities such as the Futures Game and Home Run Derby, as well as a Catcher mode. It also improved the gameplay from its predecessors, both by making overall gameplay smoother and by improving online servers.

8 Tennis - Virtua Tennis (92)

virtua tennis dreamcast gameplay score

The market for tennis video games is surprisingly saturated, with several companies taking their jabs at licensed tennis sims. That movement arguably peaked with the release of Sega's Virtua Tennis, reaching a Metascore of 92.

It was acclaimed for recreating the atmosphere of tennis matches, in terms of realism and high energy, especially with some of the best graphics on the Dreamcast. It's also great gameplay-wise, whether you're playing a singles match, doubles match, their World Circuit mode, or one of their fun mini-games.

7 Ice Hockey - NHL 2002 (92)

nhl 2002 players gameplay

EA Sports' second appearance for this list is for the NHL, and while that series has had multiple good releases, NHL 2002 stands as the best among them at a 92 Metascore for its PlayStation 2 version. Its Xbox and PC versions come quite close at 89 and 87, respectively.

Most of the praise went to the game's tight controls, which is important for a sport like ice hockey that can be fast-paced most of the time. It also has a Career Mode, which is one of the earliest of its kind for sports games.

6 Golf - Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 (92)

tiger woods pga tour 2003 gameplay

The PGA Tour series was a bit of a sleeper pick for most sports fans, made more apparent by the fact that the reviews for most of its games range from mediocre to solid. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 is the only release to have great reviews across every platform, peaking at 92 for its PC version.

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There are multiple reasons for this. Most of the attention went to the nice gameplay and swing interface. There's also the fact that there are a ton of game modes to mix things up and keep the game from being too stale.

5 Snowboarding - SSX & SSX 3 (93)

ssx 3 close up

As the only true long-running snowboarding game series, SSX has had quite a few solid releases. Its best days were during both the original and its three-quel, tied for a Metascore of 93. In fact, Metacritic ranks the former the #1 Best PS2 Game of 2000, and the latter at #3 for 2003.

The two games are actually quite different; SSX is more of a straight-up racing game, whereas SSX 3 took on a more open-world approach. Both executed their respective concepts fabulously, with the former being nice and compact, and the latter being incredibly expansive.

4 Basketball - NBA 2K1 & NBA 2K2 (93)

nba 2k2 lakers nuggets

For a gaming franchise that's fallen off a cliff in terms of quality, its best game according to Metacritic is one that was released way before it reached its current level of popularity. Among other gems such as 2K11 and 2K16, NBA 2K1 and 2K2 stand atop the Metacritic mountain at 93.

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Both were firsts of their kind in the franchise. 2K1 brought staples such as the Association, Street, and online modes. Meanwhile, 2K2 brought classic dream teams, diversified the gameplay, and expanded the game from the Dreamcast to other consoles, namely the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube, to similarly excellent results.

3 Soccer - ISS Pro Evolution (94)


Surprise! It's not FIFA. The winner for the futbol entry was from the International Superstar Soccer series, which would later spawn the FIFA series' biggest rival, the Pro Evolution Soccer series. The PlayStation's ISS Pro Evolution racked up a 94 on Metacritic.

This release was the first in the series to feature clubs alongside national teams, and though the number of clubs was limited (16), they were put in a fun game mode, Master League, which would bleed into the PES series. It also rocked better graphics and gameplay than its predecessors, thanks to a newer engine.

2 Football - NFL 2K1 (97)

nfl 2k1 gameplay dreamcast

Surprise! It's not Madden. EA Sports has it rough for both versions of football, which happen to be its biggest markets. That's not for a lack of trying, though, as Madden NFL 2003 racks up to a very close 95 for its PlayStation 2 release.

Meanwhile, the Dreamcast-exclusive NFL 2K1, while being a less popular game, reached a whopping 97. Most reviews praised it for its smart AI and great graphics for its console, and called it something along the lines of "greatest football game of all time".

1 Skateboarding - Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 (98)

tony hawk pro skater 2 combo

No surprises here; Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 established itself as one of the best games ever, period. The Metascores prove that, reaching a whopping 98 for its PlayStation version and 97 for its Dreamcast version. No other extreme sports sim comes remotely close.

Pro Skater 2 strikes the perfect balance of fun and realism, and it has possibly the tightest gameplay of any sports game. Casual gamers can enjoy themselves picking it up and pulling off a few tricks, but there's also a ton for skateboarding fanatics to master.

NEXT: Every NBA 2K Game Of The 2010s, Ranked From Worst To Best (According To Metacritic)

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