best car games ever

best car games ever

Best Car Games Ever

Is there anything more satisfying than swinging the backend of a Lamborghini around a sweeping bend, putting your foot to the floor and racing past the rest of the pack with driving music pumping through the radio? Probably not. But which games do it best? While it may have given way to the console scene in recent years, PC was once the home of racing games. Before your Gran Turismos and your Forza Motorsports started leading the way on console, it was the PC that was the go-to device for many budding petrolheads, with Geoff Crammond’s F1 sims fondly remembered by some as the leaders of the pack.And there have been loads of great racers in the years since, too, with Codemasters and Criterion creating some excellent arcade racers with DiRT and Need For Speed, and the simulation scene continuing in the shape of GTR and Assetto Corsa. Here’s the top 30 racing games of all-time.
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Best Car Games Ever

Considering there are decades of racing games to go through, choosing just 10 games is no easy task. With storied franchises like Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport seemingly always hogging the spotlight, it’s easy to forget that there was once a time where video games didn’t feature high-definition graphics and 60 frames per second.
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Best Car Games Ever

Imagine a GT racing championship getting the same all encompassing treatment as F1 gets in its own games. That’s what happened for two glorious, fleeting years in the mid 2000s with the GTR games. GTR 2 in particular was a revelation, fettling a handling model that showed enormous potential in the first game into the most authentic and demanding racing experience around. There’s a reason why there’s still a rabid fan base holed up playing this game today. What’s more, the game’s garage was populated by cars from the full-fat era of GT racing, where Ferrari 550 Maranellos diced with Maserati MC12s in the GT1 class and where a cross-eyed Morgan Aero 8 GTN was still an acceptable steed for an assault on the Spa 24 hours. The Spa 24, incidentally, is where all the game’s numerous systems come together in concert, multi-class racing plus dynamic time-of-day and weather make the enduro a real occasion, even if you compress the whole thing into just 24 minutes. Technically uncompromising PC sim racing at its very best.
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Best Car Games Ever

Imagine a GT racing championship getting the same all encompassing treatment as F1 gets in its own games. That’s what happened for two glorious, fleeting years in the mid 2000s with the GTR games. GTR 2 in particular was a revelation, fettling a handling model that showed enormous potential in the first game into the most authentic and demanding racing experience around. There’s a reason why there’s still a rabid fan base holed up playing this game today.
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Best Car Games Ever

The moment you got your hands on the first incarnation of Sony’s now-legendary series, you suddenly realised that everything that came before it was complete nonsense. While racing games had been about for years, Gran Turismo single-handedly launched the console racing simulation, a whole new genre that meant you had to actually occasionally use the brake and in which keeping the more powerful supercars out of the barriers was damn near impossible. Sure, it’s been built on and buffed up to crazily high standards with the latest sixth installment, but this remains the groundbreaker – the moment racing games grew up.
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Best Car Games Ever

1: Gran Turismo – Sony PlayStation The moment you got your hands on the first incarnation of Sony’s now-legendary series, you suddenly realised that everything that came before it was complete nonsense. While racing games had been about for years, Gran Turismo single-handedly launched the console racing simulation, a whole new genre that meant you had to actually occasionally use the brake and in which keeping the more powerful supercars out of the barriers was damn near impossible. Sure, it’s been built on and buffed up to crazily high standards with the latest sixth installment, but this remains the groundbreaker – the moment racing games grew up.
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Best Car Games Ever

For those looking for more than just racing from flag to flag, the Burnout series of games offered a place where crazy antics were rewarded. There’s plenty of games in the Burnout series, but our favorite is Burnout Paradise, originally released in 2008 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 before heading to PC in 2009.
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Best Car Games Ever

You literally can’t have a list of racing games without including any of the Super Mario Kart games from over the years. While the latest Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U brings high-definition graphics to the franchise for the very first time, we can’t look past the original Super Nintendo version that really started it all. Originally released in 1992, Super Mario Kart featured a roster of iconic Mario Bros. characters and was a kart racing game that offered a variety of gameplay modes, including a player vs. player combat. The series has turned Rainbow Road into an iconic, virtual track while blue and red shells have probably caused a breakup or two.
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With so many Gran Turismo games to choose from, it’s really hard to pick just one. So why did we go with Gran Turismo 3 that was released in 2001? It was the first Gran Turismo on the PlayStation 2, so at the time, it felt next generation and at the time, had a roster of cars like no other racing game available. It also came long before video games began focusing on microtransactions and DLC packs, meaning once you paid for the game, you got all the content you needed. For the most part, driving felt the most accurate in Gran Turismo 3 and some would say it’s the only Gran Turismo game that has lived up to the hype.
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Street Rod is the sensei of all tuning games and places a huge amount of importance in installing as many performance parts into your rides as you can afford. Parts need to be purchased from the classifieds with money you earn from drag racing and street racing, and they need to be mounted manually. They also need to fit (dummy!) and be bolted in correctly lest your car won’t start. For maximum performance cars have to be properly tuned too, and the ancient engine note will even change as you adjust the timing.
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Developed by Canadian studio Distinctive Software (which was later purchased by EA, renamed EA Canada, and went on to also create the Need for Speed series) Test Drive II was only a slight evolution of the original Test Drive but it was an important one. Like 1986’s Out Run before it the Test Drive series differentiated itself from the glut of open-wheel, F1-style racing games popular during this era by focusing on real-life supercars and open-road driving rather than race circuits. This was the crux of both Test Drive and Test Drive II, and both featured in-game police cruisers who would chase you for speeding. The crucial tweak Test Drive II brought with it that wasn’t present in the first was an opponent car to race.
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3: Super Mario Kart – SNES There are racing games with pitch-perfect, individually recorded engine sounds, ones with brilliantly realistic renderings of the world’s best racetracks and ones with physics so life-like they’d get professor Stephen Hawking hot under the collar. Then there are racers that are just plain fun – a sub-section of gaming that Super Mario Kart has reigned over for nearly 25 years. Aped endlessly since its release, rarely has an SMK pretender come close to recreating the gleeful anarchy of turning a race on its head with a well-timed power-up. Even Nintendo’s own generational follow-ups have failed to quite nail it; lobbing red shells at your mates will always be fun, but it’s something that’s always looked and felt best in the chunky sprites and limited palette of the 16-bit era. Dig the SNES out of your attic and you’ll see it’s just as gloriously entertaining today.
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There are racing games with pitch-perfect, individually recorded engine sounds, ones with brilliantly realistic renderings of the world’s best racetracks and ones with physics so life-like they’d get professor Stephen Hawking hot under the collar. Then there are racers that are just plain fun – a sub-section of gaming that Super Mario Kart has reigned over for nearly 25 years. Aped endlessly since its release, rarely has an SMK pretender come close to recreating the gleeful anarchy of turning a race on its head with a well-timed power-up. Even Nintendo’s own generational follow-ups have failed to quite nail it; lobbing red shells at your mates will always be fun, but it’s something that’s always looked and felt best in the chunky sprites and limited palette of the 16-bit era. Dig the SNES out of your attic and you’ll see it’s just as gloriously entertaining today.
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Daytona USA, perhaps the most recognisable arcade racing game of all time and the highest-grossing sit-down cabinet ever, remains a shining example of arcade racing done oh so right. Hitting arcades in 1993/1994 Daytona USA went head-to-head with Namco’s similarly cutting-edge Ridge Racer. Both featured texture mapping which gave the games far more depth than the likes of Virtua Racer, and Ridge Racer certainly enjoyed the better home release conversion, but Daytona USA’s eight-player action made it king of the arcade.

Published on Aug 19, 2017 | Under Car | By michael ellis
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