The best racing games ever?

To celebrate the start of the second ‘The Crew’ beta (which will prompt us to update our thoughts post) we thought we’d go through the annals of our gaming history and pick our favourite racing games of all time.

The racing genre is one that we thinks gets and unfair amount of criticism because when they are done right they are amongst the best games to play regardless of system…these are our favourites!

‘Micro Machines’ (Megadrive/Genesis)

micro-machines

The green is in big trouble!

The daddy of local multiplayer! The amount of time that my brothers and I spent sitting in front of our Megadrive playing this game is uncountable. It was a revelation of racing after everyone learned the tracks off-by-heart, especially when you utilised the revolutionary extra controller ports on the cartridge. The amount of abuse that was hurled across the room was eclipsed only by the cheers of joy and laughter from everyone, ‘Micro Machines’ was as social as it gets.

The races were kept competitive by the mechanics, as a top down racer the objective was to get as far ahead as possible, knocking the last person off camera and taking a life off him/her. The races could be over in a matter of seconds if there is a newbie in there, or go for the full 3 laps in what was always a tense affair as you knew one mistake would cost you.

Races were given an extra competitive edge with the introduction of tactically placed weapons, to pick up these weapons the players had to take a massive risk as they were always perilously placed. If you could get your hands on it though, victory was surely yours.

Micro Machines was given 3 sequels and all of them were absolutely brilliant and introduced new mechanics such as water based vehicles and weapon-less variations. Unfortunately Codemasters decided the franchise had run its course and called a day on it…

…until very recently they announced a spiritual sequel called ‘Toybox Turbos’ which looks absolutely brilliant! I’m very excited to play…wonder if I can get my brothers round…

‘Road Rash 2’ (Megadrive/Genesis)

Road-Rash

Smack him in the gob!

Another Megadrive classic that is no longer around. Another Megadrive classic that I spent far too much time on. To be honest I could have picked the first or the third in the series but I went for the second because it was still very much about the racing…yes it had a wide range of weapons to smash your opponents with but it was still a technical racer at heart, much in the vein of ‘Super Hang-on’.

Again it was the local multiplayer that showed ‘Road Rash 2’ in its purest and best light. Again me and my brothers would play “winner stays on” as it was merely a two player game. The racing always fell to the wayside when it came to road rash, races were lost and won at the start was we tried to smash each other off and zoom off into the distance. The winner laughing, the loser hoping for a crash.

This game was simultaneously great for catharsis and elevating frustration/boredom by throwing abuse at those sitting beside you; as you make them fall off for the third time in a single race. They don’t make games like this anymore and it’s a shame…couch multiplayer needs to happen again otherwise there is a whole generation of gamers who’ll never know the joy of body checking a sibling in the hope they take their eyes off screen for just a second.

‘Road Rash’ as a franchise persevered until the Playstation, but it started to feel decidedly old hat and it disappeared, never to be seen again. It is a shame, I’d love to see a new entry into the series.

‘Ridge Racer’ (Playstation/Arcade)

PSX_Ridge_Racer

Dose graphics though!

This game. The game that made christmas 1995 so awesome, one of my favourites in fact. When I fired up my shiny Playstation for the first time I was greeted by ‘Galaxian’, after blasting through that for far too long (best loading screen ever? There’s a post for the future) I was bombarded with CD quality sound and the now infamous “rrrrrriiiiiiiiidddddgggggggggeeeeeee raceeeerrrrrrr” and some hard house dance music. Assaulting my senses like that made me hungry to taste the next generation of racing.

When I picked my car the game loaded and it was beautiful, it ran smoothly and moved like a greased up fast thing! It was stunning! The cars handled so subtlety and gracefully, it really put your skill to the test and although it only had two tracks (1 long, 1 short) I played this game to death. I learned the tracks by heart and after a long few months I unlocked the devil car…much celebrating was had! Even my dad loved this game, in fact it was this game that sold him the Playstation in the first place! I had asked for a Saturn! Good old dad, looking after us like that! Thanks dad!

‘Forza Motorsport 3’ (Xbox 360)

Forza 3

Dese graphics though!!

The first game, and only, on this list that is not arcade racer. That tells you all you need to know about my gaming tastes. I tried ‘Gran Turismo’ and hated it. I tried ‘Sega GT’ and hated it. I thought simulations were not for me. I was wrong.

To many, Forza is seen as a soulless car collection simulator. To me it was a way to exercise my creativity with it’s immense decal editor. It was a marketplace, it was a racer with nuance, grace and subtlety! The racing was so finely poised due to the incredible physics engine, every car felt unique and every track had its own challenges. Simply put ‘Forza 3’ was the greatest racer of its generation.

I never got bogged down by the massive engine and set up customisation because I’ve no interest in that aspect, I’m not a petrol head. I love close, aggressive racing and I got that in spades from ‘Forza 3’. My friend once told me that ‘Forza’ “is good for two weeks, but they’d be the best two weeks of gaming”; I played the third instalment for many months and even today I’ll play it occasion…and have a blast.

Oh it still looks absolutely gorgeous too!

Rollcage (Playstation)

Rollcage

Bring this game back!

Forget ‘WiPEOUT’! Forget ‘Motorhead’! Forget any futuristic racer…this is the daddy of them all! Want to know about this game? I love it! You should too! Go to my previous two posts on the subject! You can find them here:

Games we’d love to see get HD re-releases! Part 2

Let’s play…Old Games Part 3

Mario Kart (Wii)

Mario_Kart_Wii

Dont like it? Everyone loves this game!

What do I need to say about ‘Mario Kart’? Everyone knows what it is. The Wii version is my favourite (i’ve not played WiiU version) it is brilliant as it is the only game I play with any regularity that has local/couch multiplayer – this brings back some great memories of consoles gone by. Thank you Nintendo!

There we have it. Our favourite racers…what’s yours? Tell us in the comments!

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2 thoughts on “The best racing games ever?

  1. I’m surprised… not a single Gran Turismo or Need For Speed title in there? Gran Turismo 2 stole MMO-like hours from my life. I 100% that game back in the PSOne days and it took a very long time to do that. I have loved every GT game since, but I haven’t played 6 yet. Something about the depth of it, and the way the cars control, idk. GT is my all time favorite.

    I had a love affair with the Need For Speed Undergrounds (1&2) on PS2. I was into real-life street racing at the time, so being able to customize my dream cars and race them illegally in a video game was very appealing. It also had more arcade-y controls that made it more fun and less stressful than the simulator above.

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    • I’ve never enjoyed Gran Turismo dude! The fact that the AI stick to the driving line makes the whole thing feel like scalextric and a bit soulless! Plus those driving tests were an exercise in frustration…I think Gran Turismo is a game best left behind…never liked it.

      Need for speed: Undergound though, that was a game! So much fun was had, I just couldn’t find a reason to include it over the games I named in the article! It was good fun though. I agree!

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