Everyone loves a good racer, both casuals and hardcore gamers. Sometimes it's tough finding a fun racing game to play, whether you want to pore over countless infinitesimal details of car-tuning or just grab a special pick-up and have some arcade-style fun with friends. No worries, here's a quick list of the top 10 racing games you'll most certainly want to play or at least check out... assuming you're in the mood to rev-up some engines and enjoy a laid back time burning rubber on the pavement, or rushing through the digital wind at unimaginably high speeds.
No need to mince your time with wasted words, it's time to get right to it. Check out Gaming Blend's list of the top 10 racing games. There's bound to be something in here for everyone.
Gran Turismo 6
Originally this was reserved for Gran Turismo 5; the game had the better graphics and more stable racing environment without the terrible blur effects. However, Gran Turismo 5's online component is being shut down, so it's not going to be a very play-worthy game when certain features cease to function. Other than some minor graphics tweaks and tiny gameplay changes, both Gran Turismo 5 and Gran Turismo 6 are mostly the same.
Still, the latest Gran Turismo boasts more than a thousand playable cars, from street-ready production vehicles to super-cars, tons of challenges that offer countless amounts of playability and a simulation mode with license tests that will make grown men cry. The game sports one of the best drifting mechanics in a video game, as well as some amazing tire-smoke effects that's offered in a simulation title. The combination of rally car races, NASCAR, street races, pro-circuit runs and everything else in between makes Gran Turismo an easy-pick for this list.
Forza Motorsport 4
Obviously, Forza Motorsport 5 couldn't make the cut for the same reason that Gran Turismo 6 was overlooked. Downgraded graphics and lesser content isn't a very appealing option when you're considering the best of the best. While Forza 3 offered more out-of-the-box content, Forza 4 sported a hefty visual upgrade, the amazing Autovista mode, the option to customize the livery of your car any which way you feel and share it, race it or compete with it against or with your friends.
The community aspect of Forzo Motorsport has always been strong, and the fourth game really ties all the strongest aspects of the series together into an amazing collage of gameplay, graphics, accessibility, versatility and fun. It would have been a crime not to include at least one Forza Motorsporton the list, just the same as it would have been a crime not to include at least one Gran Turismo title.
I don't like games that are so hard to play that you can't enjoy them. Some people like games that are so hard to play that it's hard to enjoy them. rFactor 2 is one of those games that are so hard to play that it's tough to enjoy it (just check out this decked out playthrough of the game to get an idea of just how hard rFactor 2 is). Nevertheless, the game has built up an amazing community thanks to it uncompromising aim for realism and physics-based racing centered around real-world momentum and dynamic weight distribution.
It makes for an intense thrill-ride, assuming you have the proper setup – and by that I mean that if you don't have a racing wheel, pedals and a gear-shift, you're not going to be able to enjoy rFactor in the least. While a slot like this might be better served for a game like Project CARS or Assetto Corsa, the problem is that neither game is fully released for public consumption at the moment. Even still, rFactor 2's modding capabilities and scalability has made it a fan-favorite in the most sado-masochistic racing communities.
Need For Speed: Underground 2
I tend to get the feeling that Electronic Arts peaked with this game. Need for Speed: Underground 2 was the perfect mix of, well, everything. It gave gamers an open-world to play around in, tons of vehicles to customize and great graphics to boot. EA's penchant for great soundtracks kicks in with this game like many others, with notable tracks from Snoop Dogg and Queen's of the Stone Age standing out loud and clear as you trick out your ride and race through a neon-lit city in search of fame, glory and a few dollar bills to keep your car(s) looking like it belongs on a magazine cover.
There were a lot of little elements that helped make this game so fun, most of it had to do with the diverse selection of appropriate mini-games, as well as the ability to customize just about every aspect of your car. The tuner options is what helped gamers create and customize a car that perfectly reflected their identity, something EA has yet to be able to properly recapture since. A decent multiplayer component and some amazing race tracks through the urban streets helped make this one of the top racing games out there.
While Wipeout on the PSX and Jet Moto (the original) both crossed my mind for this position, neither game holds the sort of replay appeal of F-Zero GX. Nintendo purist might prefer this spot belong to the original SNES F-Zero or the one from the N64 (which was one of the first 3D console racing games to hit 60fps) I think it's the rich graphics, the unbeatable frame-rate and the deep customization of F-Zero GX that really lets it hold up against the test of time.
That's not to mention that the track selection in that game is just massive, and the story mode has some of the hardest challenges I've ever encountered in a video game. And holy crap, the Cosmo Terminal track is so mind-numbingly fast that with the right vehicle configuration, the end of the race will leave your hands shaking, your eyes bulging and your body trembling. What a ballpark home-run this game was.
Big Red Racing
“That ain't my bellybutton!” … “Well that ain't my finger neither.” one of the many glorious, family-friendly quotes from Big Red Racing, a highly underrated gem that still manages to hold up to today's standards (if not for graphics, at least for gameplay). What's so unique about this game is the fact that it puts fun and ridiculous racing above all else, it's also the only racing game to feature the kind of diverse, multi-terrain vehicles in the history of racing games.
I'm not just talking about cars and jeeps, or trucks and boats, I'm talking about helicopters, dune buggies, moon racers, hover craft, mini-coopers and even semi-trucks. Big Red Racing is a throwback to ingenuity that gamers could only wish they could get from today's AAA studios. Sadly, due to the game being abandonware it's kind of hard to get your hands on this one, but if you can, it's well worth the fun. Some newer games like Nail'd and Fuel have tried to imitate Big Red Racing, but all to no avail. You can't top a classic.
Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Fatal Racing, known Stateside as Whiplash, is one of the best racing games ever made and it's the only stunt-racing game that doesn't have a ridiculous or strenuous learning curve. Fatal Racing came out during the age of big PC retail boxes, and it was one of those games with an amazing box; it just drew you right in. This game was so freaking awesome because it sported unlockable cheats that could radically change the game, like Dead Race mode, so all the other NPC racers tried to kill you, or Iceman, which enabled all the tracks to turn to ice.
Split-screen co-op and competitive modes made it a blast for local play, and up to 16 players either online or via LAN made it great for LAN-parties. The gameplay was fast and furious and it sported 16 tracks plus 8 additional bonus tracks you unlocked by playing the game! That's right, back before DLC you could unlock hidden content by playing the game! This isn't just one of the top 10 racing games, this will forever go down in history as one of the greatest games I had the pleasure of owning.
Road Rash 3
This was a hard decision, but Road Rash 3 is easily one of the more superior Road Rash games out there for a couple of reasons. First, the game has the best graphics on the Sega Genesis, even though the frame-rate somewhat suffers compared to the original Road Rash. Second, the game has an awesome collection of melee weapons you can use to subdue and beat the crap out of opponents on the race track. It's righteously badass. Third, the soundtrack still kicks tons of butt, even to this very day (although it's debatable as to whether or not Road Rash 3 has a better soundtrack than Road Rash 2.)
Now, this entry was a bit difficult because despite how fun and amazing Road Rash 3 is (viz., introducing cops in jeeps as well as more advanced bike options) this spot almost went to another equally fun but very underrated racer called Skitchen. It was part of the surge of rebellious-90s video games and at least deserves a shout-out, if not its own entry on this list.
This game helped shape the concept of competitive multiplayer racing at arcades across the nation and around the world. Sega's Daytona USA was a loud, bombastic, explosive racing game – it was basically the equivalent of Top Gun in the form of a racing title without explosions. Awesome, retro-tastic music blaring loudly over the speakers, four-player competitive racing, full pit crews, light damage models and full 3D racing made this one of the best racing titles out there. In fact, the game still sort of holds up as a fun throwaway game you can pump a few hours into on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Whether you have the original arcade cabinet, the Sega Saturn rendition or the PC version, Daytona USA goes down as one of the very best arcade racers that held its integrity across its console and PC ports. That's not to mention that a lot of gamers will easily have fond memories of hearing the theme blaring throughout the arcade theme parks from their youth.
At first I thought putting Mario Kart 64 here, but then I realized that many of the good stages from the N64 version are being made available in Mario Kart 8; so it wouldn't make sense to praise one game when many of its features will be present in a newer, better, bigger version of the same thing. However, at the time of the writing of this article, Mario Kart 8 isn't available yet for the general public to play and enjoy. A bit of a pickle, to say the least.
Nevertheless, it should be safe to say that Mario Kart as a franchise should be added to the list. While the SNES version introduced us to some fun console-kart racing, and Mario Kart 7 gave us multi-terrain races on a single track, I think the Mario Kart brand in general just deserves this top spot. The games are timeless classics and trying to pick one over the other seems a bit futile given that there can be an argument made for any of the games in the long running series given the quality that Nintendo puts into each outing. With that said, there's no denying that this is easily one of the top 10 racing games out there and easily worth the time of investment, if you have the time to invest.
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Staff Writer at CinemaBlend.