It’s hard to explain to someone who doesn’t play racing games the unadulterated thrill you can get from sitting in front of your TV/Monitor, controller in hand, as you belt around some of the most famous tracks in the world, or some of the most wackiest ones every created depending on what game you’re playing.
Normally the person you’re talking to looks at you as if you’ve got a head gasket loose and asks the age-old question “Well, why don’t you do that in real life?”. To which the only sensible answer is A: Because driving like a lunatic on the open road is illegal and B: Do you have any idea how much a track day actually cost, I’m not made of money!!
So, to save you from getting points on your license and a fine that would make David Beckham’s bank account sweat, we here at Gamepur have decided to follow on from yesterday’s guide to the Best Monster Truck Games with a look at the 10 Best Racing Games Series that any true petrol head should have in their collection.
The 10 Best Racing Games Series
A personal favorite of mine, the original TOCA game, was the first time I became invested in a racing game. There had been others that I’d tried, such as Ridge Racer, but they hadn’t held my attention long enough for me to care if I completed them or not, but when I laid my hands on TOCA, all that changed. As the series grew, including the brilliant TOCA 2, where if you drove like an idiot, you’d get into it with fellow racers in the pits afterward, it eventually became the awesome GRID series that seemed to have died off after GRID Autosport. Thankfully you can’t keep a good racer down, and this month, actually today at the time of me writing this, the whole thing starts again with a GRID re-boot. So there’s no excuse for you not to get into some serious racing.
Mario Kart/Mario Kart Tour
Not every racing game needs to be serious. Some of the best times you can have on a track is when you’re belting around in an environment that is so far out there; you wonder if someone spiked your morning coffee. The granddaddy of all these is Mario Kart. Since its inception back in 1992, it’s gone on to have 14 different versions of the same premise released over its 27-year existence, covering all forms of Nintendo’s machines from the SNES through the handhelds and onto the Switch. The latest game is Mario Kart Tour, which has divided the fandom somewhat, which is currently available for a two week free trial for your phone.
Crash Team Racing
When Sony saw the sweet, sweet phat stacks of money that Nintendo was making from Mario Kart, they decided they wanted in on it, and so Crash Team Racing was born. What could’ve been just a shameless cash grab on their behalf thankfully turned out to be a fantastic game which was due, in no small part, to it being handled by the legends over at Naughty Dog. Sadly, the follow-up games couldn’t quite repeat the lightning in a bottle moment that the original did, and it would be 14 years before another Crash Team Racing game would see the light of day, with Crash Team Nitro-Fueled, which also didn’t quite feel or play as well as the first one though it tried its best.
Gran Turismo is one for the purists out there as if you don’t have a clue how to drive; then you’re going to be in for a bad time. It calls itself “The Real Driving Simulator,” and since day one, that’s what it’s set out to be. The series prides itself on testing your driving skills to the limit; whether that’s by making you take tests to upgrade your license so you can enter better and bigger races or if it’s by punishing you for not understanding braking zones, Gran Turismo is a true petrol-heads paradise.
It seems that in the world of Video Game Developers that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Where Sony took the idea for Crash Team Racing from Nintendo’s Mario Kart, Microsoft saw the success they’d had with Gran Turismo and decided they wanted some of that, before unleashing Forza Horizon onto the Xbox. Forza Horizon is a tad more forgiving than Gran Turismo, and it has some of the best looking cars as well as environments for you to blast around in. If you have an Xbox One or are still using an Xbox 360, there’s no excuse for you not to have this series in your collection.
Now, I could bang on about how great and adrenalin-fuelled the point to point races are in Burnout, but let’s be honest here. The main reason for playing any version of Burnout is Crash Mode. There is nothing as satisfying as making that perfect run through traffic to the point of impact and hitting that sweet spot where you send your vehicle careening into as many cars and buses as you can. Then just when it looks like you’re about to come to a dead stop, you hit the Crashbreaker and send your exploding machine into a whole new batch of unmolested automobiles so you can rack up even more points. It’s pure bliss.
It may be hard to believe, but the first-ever F1 game was released on the Atari in 1976, which makes the damn thing nearly as old as me. It was, of course, unlicensed, but it was the start of a series that has had, quite literally, hundreds of different versions over the years. However, it wasn’t until F1 became official and then started having numbers after its name in 2009 that it became worth playing. It may seem like the racing equivalent of FIFA, seemingly a re-skin each year that has the driver roster updated, but for anyone who’s a real fan of the sport, then this should be your one-stop-shop for all things Formula One.
Not everything motorized has to be on four wheels. Some of the best fun you can have, in real life or in-game, can be found on two. Moto GP, like F1 before it, had a few games already under its belt before it started becoming numbered, but it wasn’t until Moto GP 13 that it came into its own. Pick your team, jump on your bike and try to win the Championship like Valentino Rossi himself, then recoil in horror as you misjudge a gap and end up bouncing down the track like a rag-doll. Yeah, that’s the stuff of nightmares.
Colin McRae Rally/Dirt
The late great Colin McRae was a legend in the Rallying World, so it was no surprise when a game was released that bore his name. What was surprising, however, was that it wasn’t just a decent game; it was a brilliant one. The success of this led to six sequels before they dropped the Colin McRae moniker and just went with the simpler Dirt, but it didn’t affect the overall quality of the product or the sales. Whichever version of the game you choose to pick it, it doesn’t matter as each version is pure rallying nirvana.
Need For Speed
If you’ve got a hankering for illegal street racing and don’t want to spend your life your real-life running from the cops, then Need For Speed should be right up your alley. EA’s racer hasn’t always led a charmed life, and some of the entries in the series have been downright terrible, but there have been a few real bangers in amongst all the usual micro-transaction horse crap that seems to follow the company around like a bad smell. Top of that list, in this writer’s opinion, is Need For Speed: Most Wanted. This 2005 release will see you spend all your time running from the Five-O as you climb through the ranks to prove your the King/Queen of the Underground Racing Scene.