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Top 5 best sports games

The following releases sit atop the pile as the very best sports games. Find one of these in your Christmas stocking, and it’ll provide hours of enjoyment over the festive period.

1. F1 2017 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

Codemasters’ F1 series has evolved substantially over the past two years, culminating in the excellent F1 2017. The introduction of classic cars makes for a welcome side-attraction, while Career Mode’s progression system returns with an expansive set of upgrade features, adding far more depth this time around. F1 2017 looks and feels the part (particularly when using a racing wheel), and if you’re a fan of the sport, it doesn’t get any better than this.

2. Football Manager 2018 (PC, Mobile)

Football Manager continues to command hours of our lives, encompassing unparalleled depth for a sports series. FM 2018’s additions seem subtle on the surface, but improved match engine animations, medical centre features and a revamped scouting system add up to a well-improved game over last year. The best improvement, however, can be found in its ‘Dynamics’ tools, focusing intently on the mental side of the beautiful game.

3. FIFA 18 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

FIFA 18 improves on last year’s game by impressively refining its gameplay, while authentic atmospheres work to enhance the series’ immersion from game-to-game. The Journey: Hunter Returns makes for an improved story mode over FIFA 17’s original effort, but arguably the best feature of all can be found in Ultimate Team’s addictive Squad Battles mode. As usual, EA’s ultra-popular series continues to excel in 2017.

4. MLB The Show 17 (PS4)

The latest iteration in Sony’s PlayStation-exclusive series adds to its expertly-crafted gameplay with yet another layer of impressive polish. The fan-favourite Road to the Show mode introduces an array of decision-making cutscene elements, while Franchise Mode benefits from new quick-play options to help lessen the grind of a 162-game season. MLB The Show 17 has something for everyone, and plays a simply outstanding game of baseball.

5. PES 2018 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)

Pro Evolution Soccer’s renowned gameplay is improved once more in PES 2018, with enhanced dribbling and player animations making for a superb replication of the beautiful game. Konami’s series continues to fall slightly short of EA’s efforts in terms of licensing, presentation and online stability, but if it’s a great-playing football game you’re after, it’s hard to look past this ever-evolving, brilliantly authentic series.