It takes sweat and sacrifice to become a professional athlete. You must surrender to routine, rising early each morning for rigorous training sessions. You must continuously push yourself further, higher, and faster in order to become the worlds best. You must reach for victory with each competition and, often, you must bravely endure the agony of defeat.
These demands and possibly a general lack of talent prevent many of us from becoming professional athletes. Although we may never stand atop a podium and accept a gold medal, we can glimpse an athletes dizzying highs and frustrating lows through sports games for the Macintosh.
Sports games generally fall into three broad categories solo sports, team sports, and racers and each category shares several distinct elements.
Solo sports games replicate the experience of single-player sports such as golf or skateboarding. Typically, you compete in a series of events and your performance in these competitions determines your progress through the game. Only by mastering control of your onscreen counterpart will you claim the ultimate prize. Since quick thinking and careful coordination are sometimes key to victory, many of these games provide training areas to familiarize you with the game controls. Several solo sports titles also support online gaming, so that you can pit yourself against friends and foes across the Internet.
Team sports games simulate the experience of multi-player sports such as football, baseball, or soccer. In these games you usually assume a dual player/coach role: you control one member of your team as the action unfolds (typically with the ability to switch to another player as necessary), but you also decide overall tactics, call plays, make substitutions, and so forth. Strategy is often as important as quick fingers. Youll need to carefully study the strategies of the opposing team and develop an effective strategy of your own in order to outwit your opponent and score points. Many team sports games now support online gaming, so that you can challenge a friend to a head-to-head match.
Racers put you behind the wheel of a mean machine. These games allow you to compete in a variety of racing circuits which typically differ in terrain, road surface conditions, and scenery. The goal, as always, is to place first in the race, and your rank determines your progress through the circuit. Some racers introduce fantasy elements into game play, such as offensive weaponry, that allow you to attack and disable other vehicles to ensure your victory. And, like both solo and team games, many racers include online gaming features so that you can race against friends across town and around the world.
Racing titles have long been a staple of the videogame industry, and ToCA Race Driver 3 (Feral Interactive), FlatOut 2 (Virtual Programming), and Disney/Pixar Cars: Mater-National (THQ) offer various perspectives on the adrenaline-soaked action.
ToCA Race Driver 3 offers a bounty of delights for the serious racer: vehicles ranging from classic cars to high-performance sports machines to off-road 4x4s; more than 35 types of racing, including F1, IndyCar, SuperTruck and 4x4 Monster Truck series, the European V6 Championship, and even Honda lawnmower racing; and 80 real world tracks and 70 licensed vehicles. Make your way through the World Tours 32 tiers of white-knuckle racing or climb the Pro Career ladder and win its 177 cups. When youre ready, head online for competition against live opponents.
FlatOut 2 features a similar array of vehicles, but the emphasis here is on smash-em-up racing, with 24 cups to win in the derby, race, and street classes of competition. Crash into other cars and plow through storefronts, fences, and more as you accumulate the nitro boosts youll need to rocket past your opponents. Between races, compete in free-for-all demolition derbies as well as stunts in which you catapult your driver through the windshield at just the right angle to complete an objective, such as knocking down giant bowling pins. You can also race online here, but watch out: other drivers wont show mercy, so dont give them a chance to knock you around.
For a change of pace, revisit Radiator Springs for Cars: Mater-National. Based on the hit Disney/Pixar film, the game catches up with Lightning McQueen as he makes good on his promise to set up his racing headquarters in the sleepy town. He designates dilapidated tow truck Mater organizer of an international racing festival. Cruise Radiator Springs, Ornament Valley, and Tailfin Pass as you enter races and try your hand at mini-games. Work your way up to major races at Lightnings new stadium and set the stage for a final showdown against hotshot Italian racer Giovanni.
When your mood turns toward solo competition, theres nothing better than the heart-pounding thrill of hurtling down a snowy mountain, pulling off complex tricks and evading obstacles as you try to rack up impressive point totals. Drop Point Alaska (MacSoft) takes you by helicopter to a virtual mountain full of runs ranging from the simplest, known as Kindergarten, to the most challenging, a daunting peak-top dubbed The Eyrie. Conquer mini-challenges, unlock new clothes and snowboards, and discover secret places.
In Shaun White Snowboarding (TransGaming), travel the globe and spray powder across the sides of open-world mountains that let you explore all their nooks and crannies. Brave their peaks, carve fresh runs through back-country terrain, or compete with other snowboarders in parks. Hook up with your friends for group play you can even get into virtual snowball fights and film your pals coolest tricks for sharing with others. Customizable avatars let you express yourself any way you want.
Armchair Managers Wanted
Judging by the popularity of sports-talk shows, there are many of you with an interest in running your own team. Thats where NHL Eastside Hockey Manager 2007 and Out of the Park Baseball 11 (OOTP Developments) come into play. Draft players out of the minor leagues, sign free agents, negotiate trades, decide who starts and who sits, and more. Both games offer a plethora of stats for you to peruse, everything from the exact placement of shots on goal in Eastside Hockey Manager to a batters performance against right- and left-handed pitching in Out of the Park Baseball.
Eastside Hockey Manager features over 20 leagues from around the world, including the venerable National Hockey League (NHL). Every NHL team is included, from the Original Six to the latest expansion clubs, and you can decide the careers of some of the biggest names in hockey, from young phenom Sidney Crosby to aging veteran Dominic Hasek.
Out of the Park Baseball doesnt feature the National and American League teams and players, but you can easily import them with the mod website linked in our OOTP Baseball article. It contains every player from 1871 to 2006, giving you the opportunity to not only play out last season but also past classics, such as Babe Ruths, Roger Maris, Mark McGwires, and Barry Bonds record-setting seasons in 1927, 1961, 1998, and 2001, respectively.