A few weeks ago, the KarFarm Mag staff members debated on which racing game was the best of all time. Obviously, the opinions varied. So I decided to compile a list of 10 best racing games of all time with some input from rest of the staff, but we need your help in ranking these games.
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Formula One Grand Prix Series (Geoff Crammond)
The true driving sim fans will appreciate my choice here. Geoff Crammond, a physicist, has been making great driving sims and flight sims since the 80’s. The breakthrough was Grand Prix 2 which featured all the cars and tracks from the 1994 season with one of the most realistic physics engines ever made. Grand Prix 3 had many improvements such as updated physics and dynamic weather but suffered in the graphics department. Grand Prix 4 greatly polished up the graphics engine (although dated by today’s standards) but did require powerhouse to really use. Almost every aspect of the car and pit strategy is adjustable. All of the sessions of a real Formula 1 race weekend was available and a customizable length. You could run a whole season with all the teams, drivers, and rules just like the pros. Even today there are several aftermarket add-ons and utilities that allow you so race different cars tracks from other seasons past present and future with improved graphics. One of the saddest days of my life was the day I learned that Geoff Crammond lost the F1 license and there would be no Grand Prix 5.
Gran Turismo series (Polyphony Digital)
Hailed as one of the best driving sims in the world, Grand Tursimo lets you drive anything from an economy car to a modded muscle car and real world and fantasy tracks. What makes the series great was the ability to buy a real car, race it, and upgrade it with money you earned from winning. Now Super Sprint allowed you to upgrade your car with funds your earned from racing, Grand Turismo was the first realistic game where you could do this. Ok, so there are hundreds of variations of the Civic and Integra and only one version of every other non-Japanese car and the user interface seemed to be designed by a high-school computer programming student, and the developers work at a snail’s pace, but the important part, the driving, is fantastic (we’ll ignore GT4 which was not up to snuff in the physics departament). Who cares if it takes 6 years to make the next one? I’ll play the current one up until the new one comes out.
GTR/Race series (SimBin)
All of GTR’s titles were excellent and are still heavily played throughout the world as evident through the many racing leagues and huge aftermarket following. Each of the modeled race cars had it’s own unique character and charm. The little Elise is slow but agile, the Viper is heavy but quick, and the M3 GTR is just sublime to drive. It also has a very unique array of cars. You can drive a GT car, a Formula BMW, and F3000 car, a WTCC car, a classic Touring car from the 60’s and 70’s, and a few select street cars. You can set each car up to your preference as almost every aspect of the car is tunable. From the size of the radiator, to gear ratios and the suspension settings, each car can be made to suite any driving style. You can even use the same MoTec data logging software the pros use to help you out.
Forza Motorsports series (Turn 10)
Although Forza Motorsports hasn’t been around for very long, it sure made its mark. Being an exclusive title and premier racing game for Xbox certainly didn’t set it back. Sure, it’s a copy of Grand Turismo’s style but they put their own twist on it. Personally I was never a fan of Forza 1 but the improvement from Forza 1 to 2 was staggering. You could swap entire drivetrains from other cars into your car. Wanna ford Focus with a 5.0 in it? Sure! Also, instead of some obscure “stage 1” or “stage 2” system, you could choose your own specific parts. Adding to the fun was a good online multiplayer system which allowed the 10 year-old from the neighboring state to deflate your ego as he lapped you. The series took a downturn with Forza 3 though. Much improved graphics was not enough to save it from its glaring physics engine flaws. But the critic’s prayers have been answered! Forza 4 with the help of Pirelli made huge improvements to the physics engine.
Grand Prix Legends (Papyrus)
Grand Prix Legends was a game based on an era where “racing cars was dangerous and having sex with women wasn’t” as Jackie Stewart would say. No seat belts, no fancy traction control, aluminum monocoque, and 60’s suspension. This was a recipe for disaster and this game put you right in the middle of it with brutal realism. The physics engine was so real, it modeled drive train momentum. Revving your engine in neutral and engaging first gear would cause it to lurch forward just like a real one. Every turn you took was at some sort of slide angle at some ridiculous speed. If you weren’t on the brink of a spectacular wreck (and they were spectacular) you weren’t going fast enough. The game and developer have gone on to produce another game on this list (iRacing), but the following for this game still remains. You can download other classic F1 cars, tracks, textures, sounds, you name it. Its amazing reality and longevity has earned Grand Prix Legends a spot on our list
DiRT Series/Colin McRae Rally series (Codemasters)
Codemasters was always good at managing arcadiness and realism. For me, the true breakthrough was DiRT2. The physics engine was the ultimate balance of fun and reality. It featured and excellent sound track, an interesting career mode, and solid online play. Having racing greats like Ken Block call you by your first name and cheer you on while you hang your 350Z out sideways around a hairpin on an obscure mountain road in Croatia is definitely a plus to say the least. Get, the slide angle wrong a bit or get off rhythm with the switchbacks and you car went tumbling off a steep cliff leaving a garage sale of car parts all the way up to the edge. And if you’re a rally fan and didn’t get choked up after the Colin McRae tribute video, then you should check your pulse.
Many of you reading this might not know what this is. If you don’t you need to look this up now. This is the first successful open-source racing simulator. Anyone can design a car or track. Wanna drive your personal car on your favorite race track? Wanna re-create the airport vehicle race from Top Gear? All you need is someone who knows how to design vehicles and tracks for the sim. With iRacing, this all becomes a possibility. Many online tournaments and racing leagues use this platform because of its versatility and the fact that it’s designed to be played online. And the best part of all this is it’s FREE! iRacing is changing the racing simulation world with this revolutionary idea.
Ferrari 355 Challenge Arcade (Sega)
Although it wasn’t the most popular game, this was the first Arcade game to really employ some realism and immersion. As you literally climbed into this game, you were greeted but a 6-speed, 3 pedals, 3 screens, and the unmistakeable roar of a Ferrari. It also featured real tracks and some instruction on finding your way. I first played this game at the Kyoto train station in Japan. I was flabbergasted when I learned you could lock the brakes, heal-toe, and drive the proper line to be fast. I watched many people try the tame wild Ferrari but gave up before time ran out. Even after 11 years since it first came out, you can still find the 3-screen version in many large arcades, thus landing this true Challenge of a game in a solid spot on our list.
Daytona USA Arcade (Sega)
If you were a kid in the 90’s and went to an arcade, you know why this game earned a top-10. Physics: awful, number of tracks: 3, number of cars 1, fun factor: over 9000. I can still remember the arcades with 10 players versions of Daytona USA. That was always a cluster: 10 cars would go sliding sideways as you ram the car into 3rd gear with your foot still firmly planted on the gas at 180+mph. A true NASCAR pileup would ensue with cars tumbling everywhere as they collided. Afterward you’d have to drive starting at your wrinkled hood. Arcades today sill have Daytona USA which originally started in the 90’s! It’s a true testament to “less is more.”
Need For Speed Series (EA)
Run from the fuzz, drive insanely priced exotics through tight city streets and scenic country roads, tune your rice burner to look and sound unbelievably ostentatious, or just drive on a race track with race cars. The 90’s original is still my favorite, but Porsche Unleashed and Underground 2 were responsible for many lost hours of my life. The series tried its hand at simulation with Shift and Shift2 but didn’t really hit the mark with NFS fans. It felt more like some amateur drivers went to their first track day in a WRX or Evo and scared themselves half to death and then tried to replicate the experience. It’s more recent titles The Run and Undercover showed disappointing sales figures with critics pointing out the fact that Need for Speed is straying from its roots. While the series is in decline, I have some very fond memories of the different games, and while realism wasn’t it’s forte, it’s just plain fun.
Source : Flickr