EA used to be a powerful name in the industry, and during that time, their logo on a box usually meant quality was contained inside. They held strong up until this decade, wherein they made not one, not two, but dozens of poor decisions in their various gaming divisions. They have been voted the worst company for a few years, which really says something about how the fans view them. That seems a bit sad, doesn’t it?
No one wants a company (or game, for that matter) to fail unless that company or game is promoting something truly distasteful for humanity. The point of this piece is therefore to look back at the good times to remind everyone that EA was once, and could still be a great company. These examples are all based on console and PC reviews, and only include one entry from any given franchise. That said, let’s look at the 22 best EA games, according to Metacritic.
Updated on September 23, 2022, by Tom Bowen: It’s perhaps quite telling that the vast majority of EA’s highest-rated video games on Metacritic were released well over a decade ago. This, coincidentally, was before the days of aggressive and predatory microtransactions and loot boxes; things that, to many, are now synonymous with EA games. Whether or not the exploitation of vulnerable gamers and young children correlates directly with the company’s declining review scores is difficult to say, although it has certainly led to plenty of criticism from both gamers and governments alike. Despite this, however, EA does still pump out the occasional gem, though these top-tier games are definitely far less frequent than they once were.
22 Boom Blox Bash Party (86)
Designed by Steven Spielberg and developed by EA’s esteemed Los Angeles internal studio, Boom Blox had the potential to rival Nintendo’s Mario Marty series for the title of best party game franchise. Ultimately, it fell just a little short, but was still a great game with some interesting ideas to boot.
The game’s sequel, Boom Blox Bash Party offered yet more innovation, with players able to create and upload their own custom games in a similar fashion to titles like Roblox and Dreams. Its Wii exclusivity arguably hurt its appeal in the long run, but those who played it will likely still have fond memories of the game.
21 Shogun: Total War Warlord Edition (87)
EA only published one Total War game before the series was picked up by Activision (and, subsequently, Sega). As it happens, it was one of the better ones, managing to average an impressive 87 rating on Metacritic thanks to its fantastic strategy-oriented gameplay.
Those looking for a visually impressive game would definitely be better served elsewhere, though for 2001 standards, Shogun: Total War is far from a bad-looking game. The Warlord edition adds a ridiculous amount of extra content, including new units, game modes, and campaigns.
20 Superbike 2001 (88)
Released exclusively for the PC in October of 2000, Superbike 2001 is a motorcycle racing game that was developed by Milestone and published by EA. Most fans of the sport agreed that it was one of the very best motorcycle racing titles of the era, with the game including all of the tracks and bikes that featured throughout the 2000 Superbike World Championship season.
In the years that have followed, the motorcycle racing genre has grown dramatically, with fans of the sport now having a wide array of games to choose from. Back in the year 2000, however, options were incredibly limited, so having a game that was as good as Superbike 2001 was a real treat for those who enjoy traveling at high speeds while on two wheels.
19 NASCAR Thunder 2004 (88)
Before EA got its hands on the publishing rights for NASCAR video games, the titles were published by Sierra and regularly received 90+ ratings on Metacritic. Since EA took over, however, ratings have fallen on a fairly consistent basis, though the company’s first few attempts did at least receive some respectable review scores.
Whether due to some residual goodwill leftover from the Sierra days or the strength of its driving mechanics, the PS2 version of NASCAR Thunder 2004 averaged an impressive 88 average rating, a plus-three improvement over its predecessor. Sadly, it’s been all downhill for NASCAR games since then though, with more recent titles, which are now published by 704Games, typically averaging somewhere between 60 and 70 on Metacritic.
18 It Takes Two (89)
EA-developed titles haven’t fared too well with critics in recent years, but, as a publisher, the company still puts out the occasional gem from time to time. The latest of these is Hazelight Studios’ excellent It Takes Two, which builds brilliantly on the foundations laid by the studio’s first two-player co-op game, A Way Out.
From its charming art style to its thought-provoking narrative, there’s a lot to love about It Takes Two. Prior to the game’s release, the game’s director Josef Fares was so confident that it would be successful that he promised potential purchasers $1,000 if they ever grew tired of the game. Based on the game’s positive critical reception and strong sales, it seems safe to say that his confidence was justified.
17 Dragon Age: Inquisition (89)
Whether or not the upcoming Dragon Age game will have what it takes to surpass Dragon Age: Inquisition remains to be seen. If it does though, it will be one hell of a game. Inquisition is a title against which very few modern RPGs are able to measure up and is arguably the very best that this series has to offer.
Featuring a fantastic branching narrative and a wonderfully intuitive combat system, it’s difficult to find too many faults with the series’ latest entry. There are perhaps times when its story can get a little complicated, but even those who don’t fully understand the game’s narrative should at least enjoy its delivery thanks to some great writing and some even better voice acting.
16 Titanfall 2 (89)
The original Titanfall was billed as a COD killer; while the latter’s continued existence should serve as a clear indication that the former failed in that regard, that’s not to say that it wasn’t still a very good attempt. It reviewed well and, perhaps most importantly, it sold well enough to convince EA to greenlight a sequel. Titanfall 2 was and remains a great title that’s right up there with the Call of Duty games, even if it lacks the clout to truly topple them.
It is often said that sequels should learn from their predecessor’s mistakes, and few games exemplify this better than Titanfall 2. It improved on the original game in practically every area, leading to a level of gameplay fluidity that players had long been yearning for. There were no half measures taken in this game, nor were there any compromises made when it came to the game’s online multiplayer. As such, it provides an action-packed experience that players are unlikely to forget in a hurry.
15 Apex Legends (89)
Seen by many as the spiritual successor to Titanfall, Apex Legends was a little slow coming out of the blocks. Following its solid review scores and some positive word of mouth though, the game managed to attract around 70 million players worldwide by October 2019. It’s also won numerous awards and become incredibly popular in the ever-expanding eSports scene.
One of the game’s biggest selling points is Apex Legends‘ diverse cast of characters, each of whom has their own unique skill set. This variety allows the game to cater to a wide range of playing styles while also remaining fresh for those who grow tired of maining the same character. The developer also provides regular updates, preventing the game from ever feeling stale.
14 Beetle Adventure Racing (90)
Given the many great kart racing games that were available on the N64, it’s easy to see how a title like Beetle Adventure Racing could be overlooked. To be clear, it’s not actually a kart racer, though is built in much the same way as one, with fast-paced fun being at the center of every course and game mode that the EA-published title has to offer.
Though the VW Beetle may not seem like the best car for barrelling around an arcade-style race track at breakneck speeds, it works surprisingly well. Where the game really excels though is through its excellent multiplayer gameplay, both when it comes to standard races and the Beetle Battle mode. The latter is arguably the better of the two, with the ladybug collection mechanic offering an interesting take on vehicular combat.
13 MVP Baseball 2004 (90)
Compared to some of EA’s other sporting IPs, MVP Baseball was fairly short-lived. There were just five games produced between 2003 and 2007 before an exclusivity deal between 2K Sports and Major League Baseball forced EA to step aside. The company did flirt with the idea of making college baseball games but pulled the plug on the project following middling sales and reviews. Despite its early demise though, the franchise was able to deliver one of the greatest baseball games of all time.
It could be argued that MVP Baseball 2004 served as a precursor to 2K Sports’ MLB games. It single-handedly defined what a 3D baseball game should be and is one of the most intuitive sports games ever created. It also looked absolutely fantastic for a PS2 game. Perhaps best of all, the game also provided plenty of improvements over its predecessor, which helped players to feel as though they were getting value for their purchase rather than simply paying for some updated rosters.
12 Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 (90)
This score is based on the GameCube version of the game. PGR Tour started out as a game series in 1990 and it wasn’t until 1998 that they brought Tiger Woods into the series as a mascot. Though doing so had little impact on gameplay, it certainly improved the series’ brand appeal.
Among all console entries, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 is by far the pick of the bunch. The EA Sports division certainly hit its stride with a bunch of great features and solid gameplay, making Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2003 one of the best golf games not just of the era, but of all time.
11 Dead Space 2 (90)
This score is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game. For many people, the original Dead Space will always be the best one of the trilogy since it can be thanked for bringing back survival horror games in a really big way. It offered a unique twist, that at the time, couldn’t really be found anywhere else.
That said, everything about this sequel mechanically is superior to its predecessor. On top of the gameplay feeling tighter and the graphics looking better, letting Isaac talk was a real plus to the story. Almost a decade later, the series is set to make its return, much to the delight of Dead Space fans.
10 NBA Street Vol. 2 (90)
This score is based on the PS2 version of the game. NBA Street and this sequel were two great spiritual successors to the hugely popular NBA Jam. That game was a bridge between casual sports fans and more hardcore ones and performed strongly due to how accessible it was.
NBA Street Vol. 2 was an equally fun arcade-like experience that didn’t take itself too seriously. And, even though the game was a bit more complex than its predecessor, it still catered to a wider audience than the mainline NBA titles thanks to its overall simplicity.
9 Battlefield 2 (91)
There was once a time when the first-person shooter genre was a hugely competitive one, with numerous franchises trading blows for the top spot. It was around this time that the Battlefield franchise began making a name for itself, with its hyper-realism and top-notch multiplayer gameplay.
The series rarely disappoints with its releases and, together with Call of Duty, has been able to stand the test of time. Its strongest entry, however, remains 2005’s Battlefield 2, which holds a mighty 91 rating on Metacritic for the PC release. It may not look like much by today’s lofty standards, but, at the time, it really did offer one of the very best FPS experiences around.
8 FIFA Soccer 10 (91)
This score is based on the PS3 version of the game. In the span of three years, this series was at its best. This got a 91 while FIFA Soccer 12 and FIFA Soccer 13 both got 90s. As the world’s most popular sport, it has always sold well, which is perhaps part of the reason why FIFA games also review strongly.
It’s not that the reviewers are biased, it’s that the sports team at EA was really dedicated to their craft, knowing that so many soccer fans were eagerly anticipating each new entry. The franchise’s fierce rivalry with Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer series also kept developers on their toes and, for the most part, prevented them from resting on their laurels.
7 Medal of Honor (92)
The original Halo was the first example of a first-person shooter feeling as natural on a console as they normally do on a PC. So while the original Medal of Honor on PS1 does not come close to that level of comfort and intuitive control, it was still a fun game for its time.
This was still in an era where World War II shooters were still mildly novel and weren’t totally over-saturating the market. These days they’re a dime a dozen, and while there are still some pretty good ones pumped out from time to time, they really don’t make them like they used to.
6 Rock Band (92)
This score is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game. The first Rock Band was a good first step in taking what Guitar Hero had started and turning it into a better musical dream. With more instruments, more songs, and the ability to play with up to three other players locally, it was a big hit with musically-inclined gamers.
Rock Band 2 then hammered out the details, refined everything, added more tracks, and allowed for the majority of the original library to be ported over, thus creating one amazing game for parties. No matter what instrument one had, they were in for a good time.
5 NHL 2002 (92)
This score is based on the PS2 version of the game. As far as Metacritic is concerned, this is the highest-rated official NHL hockey game on the site. This series was great up until the most recent years. Like most other EA games, the support for it seems to be mediocre.
They still get scores ranking in the green, but it really feels like a passionate yearly cycle of development compared to this entry. The number of options, roster, and graphics have gotten better, sure, but NHL 2002 is still pure gold.
4 Burnout 3: Takedown (94)
This score is based on the Xbox version of the game. It is also the best-reviewed Burnout entry in the series, which should be obvious by this list. The two previous games were good tries at a more fast-paced racing game with an emphasis on car destructibility. However, Burnout 3: Takedown is where things really took off bringing the series to a new level of awesome.
Burnout 3: Takedown set the pace for the next two sequels, Burnout Revenge and Burnout Paradise, which were also amazing and remain some of the best racing games ever made. If only EA would see the value in this series again. Let’s retire Need for Speed for a while and bring this back!
This score is based on the PS2 version of the game. As well as the official NFL games, EA also used to make college-based versions featuring the sport’s most promising young athletes. Despite the lack of star names, the games, at least, were on par with their official NFL counterparts.
The only reason that EA stopped making NCAA titles was a dispute surrounding the publisher and institutions making money off of college athletes for a video game. The last version was NCAA Football 14 in 2013, though the series is set to make a return in the not-too-distant future.