12 | Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters | Xbox, PS3, Wii
It’s been a rough year for Tiger Woods the golfer, but not for the game. While EA didn’t make many gameplay tweaks, this year’s edition introduced two things that have made Tiger a better golf game. The first is a caddie. And while this should’ve been in the game years go, the addition of a caddie is pretty cool.
The caddie gives you shot recommendations, and unlike traditional aiming guides of the past, these tips are actually pretty close to where the ball lands. And you can level up your caddie, adding an RPG aspect to the game. The other great addition is this little golf course you may have heard of somewhere: Augusta National, the home of the Masters. The entire course has never been in a game before, so this makes PGA Tour 12 a must-buy for serious golfers. The Wii MotionPlus controls are great, but avoid the PC version: It’s beset with issues.
11 | Football Manager 2011 | PC
This is the series for the obsessive compulsive sports fan who cares less about the action on the field than managing the front office. In Football Manager, you can take control of anything from Manchester United to tiny village clubs that no one has ever heard of. From there, you not only manage the roster, but the players themselves.
Unlike other sports games, the players in Football Manager have actual personalities. You have to figure out how to get on their good side, and sometimes you need to know how to discipline them. For those willing to put in the effort, it can be a fascinating exercise in actually managing people. It's unscripted, crazy, and utterly brilliant if you're willing to take the time to learn how to play it.
10 | Fight Night Champion | Xbox 360, PS3
While the popularity of “the sweet science” has lost a lot of ground to more brutal upstarts like MMA fighting, no UFC-themed game has come close to putting forth a control scheme as intuitive and appropriate for its sport as EA Sports’ Fight Night series has.
Like NBA 2K12, the Fight Night series pays its respects to the sport’s earlier history by featuring classic boxing matchups and legendary fighters of all weight classes. 2011’s Fight Night Champion brought in a narrative-based single player campaign, but it’s really the core gameplay, namely the analog controls that keeps this series so consistently good.