Slide to Play Buyer’s Guide: Sports

Nearly a year after the introduction of the App Store, there are over 50,000 applications available to download, the vast majority of those being games. This can be completely overwhelming to newcomers and iPhone veterans alike, so we’ve decided to help out our readers with a definitive list of the best sports titles available on the platform.

For those of you who suffer from money constraints (and really, who doesn’t?), fear not! When the best game wasn’t the cheapest, we listed a thrifty alternative. Regardless of price, we’d recommend any game on this list, and each one has scored at least a 3 on our rating scale (except for Baseball Superstars, which we like a lot but haven’t reviewed yet).

That said, let the games begin!

Best Soccer Game – X2 Soccer 2009

Publisher: X2 Games

Price: $6.99

In our review, we said that “X2′s superiority to Real Soccer 2009 is apparent from the moment you start playing.” The more flexible controls, better graphics and enhanced defensive options make it the best soccer title on the platform. Unfortunately, the lack of multiplayer, something that Real Soccer also doesn’t offer, hurts.

Cheapskate Alternative – Real Soccer 2009

Publisher: Gameloft

Price: $.99

Even at the same price, Real Soccer wouldn’t be a bad alternative to X2, and it may just make up for its shortcomings with a budget price tag. The virtual d-pad isn’t as strong as the analog controls in X2, and the passing options and defensive game aren’t as robust, but if you don’t need the absolute best soccer title it will do you just fine.

Best Racing Simulation Game – Real Racing

Publisher: Firemint

Price: $9.99

The only racer of its kind worth mentioning on the platform, Real Racing has almost everything you could want. The controls are tight, the graphics are fantastic and the online integration and local multiplayer wrap everything together nicely. Even at the premium price, this title stands apart from other iPhone games.

Best Arcade Racing Game – Need for Speed: Undercover

Publisher: EA Mobile

Price: $6.99

An exciting, if pint-sized, version of the console experience brought to the land of accelerometers. Although the single-player story mode is your only option for racing, there’s plenty of race types. The impressive graphics, flashy presentation and car customization keep it out in front.

Cheapskate Alternative – Asphalt 4

Publisher: Gameloft

Price: $.99

One of the earliest iPhone games, Asphalt 4 was a premier title upon release. It still holds up well today, and at its bargain basement price it’s a no brainer. You don’t have to be a cheapskate to enjoy this one.

Best Golf Game – Tiger Woods PGA Tour

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Price: $6.99

With seven accurately modeled courses and a unique control scheme, Tiger Woods’s aim for realism separates it from other golf titles on the platform. A handful of real golfers to choose from, along with a create-a-character option and a Tour career mode make this the most complete choice.

Cheapskate Alternative – Let’s Golf

Publisher: Gameloft IDP

Price: $1.99

Although we’re listing it as a cheapskate option, Let’s Golf is no slouch, also earning a “Must Have” review score from us. It offers a very different experience from Tiger Woods, with cartoony characters and an emphasis on lighthearted fun over realism. Even before the massive price drop it had our highest recommendation!

Best Baseball Game – Baseball Superstars 09

Publisher: Gamevil Inc.

Price: $2.99

It’s hard to call this a traditional baseball game, but it does offer most of the modes you’d expect. There’s also a lot here you wouldn’t normally find, like wacky pitchers that can send the ball over the plate in a loop-de-loop and a career mode that lets you choose whether to spend your spare time working out in the gym, promoting yourself on television or taking a lucky lady out on a date.

Similarly Priced Alternative – Baseball Slugger

Publisher: Com2uS Corp.

Price: $2.99

Less of a baseball game than a home run derby game, Baseball Sluggers has the best batting controls on the device. The online multiplayer and assortment of arcade challenges keep things interesting, but the narrow focus keeps this one from hitting a grand slam.

Best Pool Game – Anytime Pool

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Price: $4.99

Fantastic control, online Facebook integration and a world tour single player campaign make this the first choice for playing pool on the go. The impressive presentation and extensive replay value will keep you playing for a while.

Cheapskate Alternative – Midnight Pool

Publisher: Gameloft

Price: $.99

Midnight Pool isn’t as flashy as Anytime Pool, it doesn’t control quite as well and the story mode is pretty pointless. But it still offers up some solid physics and a decent amount of single player content. The multiplayer is limited to pass-and-play, but for the price it might be all that you’re looking for in your billiards game.

Best Fishing Game – Flick Fishing

Publisher: Freeverse Inc.

Price: $.99

A new quest mode, lots of fish to catch and fantastic graphics make Flick Fishing the easy choice if you want to reel in the big one. The price is just bait on the hook, you don’t get much better value than this on the App Store!

Best Xtreme Sports Game – Dirt Moto Racing

Publisher: Resolution Interactive AB

Price: $4.99

With over 30 races offered in career mode and four different race types, Dirt Moto offers quite a bit of bang for your buck. Online leaderboards and the ability to challenge the ‘ghosts’ of those with the best times really launch this game to the top of our Xtreme Sports list.

Cheapskate Alternative – Aqua Moto Racing

Publisher: Resolution Interactive AB

Price: $3.99

This water-based racer just feels right as you navigate between buoys with the tilt controls. At only a dollar less, it isn’t much cheaper than Dirt Moto but it offers quite a different experience. Online leaderboards and some seriously sweet graphics keep things afloat, even without any multiplayer options and a relatively useless showboating mechanic.

You’ll notice that we haven’t covered every sport. That’s because, at this stage, there isn’t a good game for every sport available. Sure, there are some tennis games out there, but the ones we tried don’t quite make the cut for a best sports games list. Same goes for basketball and football.

If there’s anything that wasn’t included that you think could make our list, tell us why in the comments. Hopefully, by the time we revisit this we’ll be able to have something for every category. Until then, there’s enough here to get you through a few offseasons. Enjoy!