1. FIFA 13
Developer: EA Canada
Publisher: Electornic Arts
Yes, it's true: If you're new to the FIFA series, you may spend the first few plays of FIFA 2012 taking a player, having him dribble right up to the goal, and booting the ball straight into the upper-deck of the stands. Give it a few more plays. And a few more after that. And a few more after that. Before you know it, you'll be running aggressive triple-juke rainbow-kick plays to get downfield, crossing to center, and bicycle-kicking your way to FIFA supremacy.
This is more than just a soccer game. It's an insanely fun master class in physics, quick smarts, and reflexes. The graphics are the most stunning in any sports game this year, bar none. Watch the rain change directions as you're taking a goal kick, and then watch as players slip on the pitch as they side-kick a ball, only to have it stop short on a bottom-roll (the physics are mindblowing). The sound design brings some of the greatest announcers of any sports game ever; they react quickly, they're smart, and they're actually helpful.
Are the game modes perfect? Actually, for once: Yeah, they are. The skill games are insanely fun, the league modes and online modes, as deep as you want them to be. But they're all overshadowed by that gameplay-factor. The learning curve starts shallow, but builds to a steep angle as you grow in skill. In other words: Pulling off that rainbow kick is as hard as it is incredibly rewarding, and so are the celebrations (which you can now customize!) in their wake. Get those grass stains. You earned 'em.