Racing games whether Sim or Arcade allow us to do things that are practically impossible behind the wheel of a real car. Thats what makes them so engaging and this run down celebrates my top ten Driving games of
10) NFS Hot Pursuit
My third Criterion game on my top ten (i’m a fanboy and they do make exceedingly good games) is something of an anomaly to their other titles. This is due to the lack of an open world the game is race based and you choose your race by a starting map. This game was the first game Criterion did with real cars and the first edition of Autolog we had seen. It was also a major jumping off point for NFSMW but in its own right its still a great game. The visuals are great especially when crashing and the ability to play as a racer or the police gave the game an extra dimension.
9) F1 2010
Marbles made this game. The feeling of going off line had never really been as jarring as it is in Codemasters F1 Sim (The shift series is very close). It made you feel every corner and if you made one mistake you had lost and that made every corner of every lap a nerve wrecking experience. This edition was my favourite (Maybe because McLaren were still top at this time) and it has a place in my gaming catalogue. The realism could also be the most annoying part of this game as well as I spent hours setting my car up for a race at Monza qualified first and got rear ended at the Variante Del Rettifilo (Monza’s first corner) causing me to get a DNF and blow my chances of a championship title. Despite this virtual heartbreak I still love this game.
8) Out Run
Sitting in the cockpit of a Ferrai racing through mountains and along the side the beach had never been as amazing as when you were sitting in a plastic Ferrari in the arcade Out run gave you this and it made the junior version of me fall in love with its dodgy graphics and slightly annoying music. Unfortunately the home version was never as compelling (maybe if my mum and dad had bought that car bed I always wanted) so the Arcade version is the one I have added to the list.
7) NFS; Shift
This was Need for Speeds first attempt at a serious racer. In the second edition the game has lost the NFS tag and just been called Shift 2 unleashed and although the second version had improvements it just does not feel as compelling to play as the original.
Shift gave you control of a mixture of low and high end cars and gave you some amazing tracks to go around the London races were a particular favourite of mine. The real pull of this game was the way you gained XP for everything and by everything I mean everything. From drifts to dirty overtakes to keeping on the racing line. The rewards just kept on coming making that chase for fourth place take on a new meaning as every point counted in your Quest for XP.
6) Micro Machines
Whether you had a Sega Genesis or Mega Drive this game should have been in your collection. The top down racer gave you control of a variety of vehicles in which to navigate the normal world. The twist being you were in shrunken down cars. Never before had you been able to race across a Pool table or Kitchen sideboard. The game had good graphics for the time and the physics of the game would not hold up to todays standards but of its time it was a great title.
The main reason for this version of the game to win was definitely the J Cartridge which allowed an unprecedented 4 players to battle out for the win.
5) Dirt 3
My favourite Rally game of all time beating Sega Rally due to the addition of the mixture of events that are playable within the game. The games straight up Rally events look good and due to removable driver assists can be as easy or difficult as you like. What makes the game stand out is the new events like Gymkhana that were added to the game allowing the Rally genre to become deeper. Unfortunately this went a little too far with Dirt Showdown as they forgot about the true Rally and focused just on the crazy games the balance of play should never be ignored. Dirt 3 had the right balance and for that it deserves its place on my list.
4) Mario Kart Wii
For a racing game to be the reason to own a console is a bold statement for me to make, but Mario Kart is only reson I still own a Wii. The craziness of the tracks mixed with addicting gameplay made this the essential purchase on the now outdated nintendo system. It’s also the reason I chose this version above the Super Nintendo edition of the game.
The top Sim on the list. I will make it clear that this game is the second best at a lot of what it does. It’s Rally sections are not as good as Dirt 3’s its F1 sections and pultry when compared to Codemasters F1 series. But what this game does is allow you to play these game types and a hell of alot more to. The quoted 1000 cars contain alot of special editions but the base number of cars still eclipses any other game. The tracks are numerous and lovingly recreated.
When you combine all the positives of this game they far outweigh the negatives and thats why its the best track game on my list.
2) Burnout Paradise
Criterion make great car games but I think they are at their best when producing open world titles. Burnout Paradise was the epitome of their creative ability (Until NFSMW). Everything from that game just worked from the beginnings of Autolog to the Big Surf Island DLC. This game kept you busy just trying to be faster than your friend on one road and you would keep going down that road until you were number 1. This kind of social interaction has been stepped but this was the genesis and should be celebrated for doing something different and it the process creating a new way to interact with friends online.
1) Need for Speed; Most Wanted
Until the 16th of December 2012 this game was placed in my number two spot. Thats mainly because I only had the game on the Vita and even though the handheld version is an amazing game it had some shortcomings. However thanks to the 12 Days of Christmas on the Playstation store I bought this game on the PS3 and now it has firmly placed itself at the head of my list.
The open world setting is an amazing place, add to this the seamless loading (apart from when racing or changing cars) it’s an experience that hardly takes you out of the driving seat.
The mix of cars is great and the fact that most are playable as long as you can find them allows everyone to be able to drive supercars on day one and that makes the game very accessible.
With new DLC coming adding cars, billboards and even more races this game looks to have some longevity and so I award it my number one racing game.
I hope this list has helped you to reminisce about games you have played or look forward to playing those that have eluded your gaming system of choice up to now.
Please leave any thoughts you may have below and feel free put your own list in the comment section to.
By Paul Fiander
All pictures posted are from the owners media banks.
Picture of J cart is in the free realm.