So… What’s Your Favourite Racing Game?

By Jim Rossignol on February 11th, 2013 at 3:00 pm.


Mine is probably Wipeout 2097, or Ballistics. I do like a bit of rallying, though. It’s in the blood, you see. My Dad used to throw a Mini Cooper around the welsh mountains occasionally. I’d do the same if I hadn’t spent all my money on crisps.

Oh, and there’s a teaser video out for GRiD 2. (It’s spelled like that, you see.) That was the real news, before I got distracted. You can watch that below. Also a ballistics video, because nostalgia.

I bet there won’t be any sonic booms in Grid 2.

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191 Comments »

  1. Parrot says:

    Dirt Racer (snes) & Driver1 & RBR & TDU1

  2. FurryLippedSquid says:

    Indycar here.

  3. Paul.Power says:

    Micro Machines 1, 2, ’96 and V3.

    If we’re going for games released in the last decade and a half (damn that makes me feel old), erm… Mario Kart DS and Driver: San Francisco spring to mind, as terrible as I am at the latter.

    e: VVV completely forgot about Excite Truck, which is amazingly fun. SUPER TRUCK SLAM!

    • noom says:

      Micro Machines. Superb.

      I did at one point in my teenage years manage to cram enough friends into my living room to engage in playing the N64 Micro Machines 8 player. Delightfully chaotic.

    • jimmydean239 says:

      I recently got a mega drive to play Micro Machines. Got the original and TT 96 (4 players!). When my mates come round there’s no contest, they turn their nose up at any other games. Best racing games ever, bar none.

  4. KDR_11k says:

    Excite Trucks since it’s not that much about racing but isn’t as full of random BS moments as Mario Kart. The US guys claim that Excite Bots is better but they never released that in Europe.

    • Paul.Power says:

      Forgot about Excite Truck, it’s an amazing game and probably my favourite Wii game. Shame Excite Bots never made it to Europe…

  5. MiniMatt says:

    Road Rash on the sega megadrive.

    Riding a motorbike at breakneck speeds whilst swatting away fellow competitors and commuters with a crowbar. It’s basically teaching you a life skill.

    • brulleks says:

      Oh god, yes. That’s another great one. Can’t wait to see how the remake turns out, assuming it’s still in the pipeline.

  6. Oneknown says:

    My personal favorite will always be Re-Volt. RC car racing with bottle rockets? Yes please!

  7. ChromeBallz says:

    OMG, Ballistics was mentioned! One of my favourite games ever!

    And the video in the OP? Slooooooow. I can go faster: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaJiPpLzbNg

    And yes, i am bragging.

  8. brulleks says:

    Going back a while, but I also had quite a thing for Badlands on the Spectrum. I preferred it to Super/Championship Sprint as it included weapons and armour you could upgrade between races.

  9. Oozo says:

    Rock ‘n’ Roll Racing is dominating the race!

  10. Muzman says:

    Trackmania (Nations Forever I think it was, particularly)
    It’s simple and uncluttered but also completely preposterous and devoid of anything remotely sim-ish. Can’t really beat the price for another thing.

  11. MinisterofDOOM says:

    I’m a car guy for whom driving is a favorite pastime (maybe the only hobby that outranks gaming for me). Because of that, I have a hard time enjoying racing games. The complete lack of car/driver feedback (don’t kid yourself–force feedback wheels don’t do jack) makes driving feel unnatural and numb and difficult to enjoy. There’s no inertia, no feel of the corners, traction, throttle response, brake feel, steering response…all of it’s missing.
    In my real car, I can feel which tire is breaking loose when, where my understeer threshold is, how hard I can throttle out of a turn without ending up ass-first in a fence… Some games do a better job than others at trying to compensate for this lack of feedback, but none of them actually succeed. It’s simply not fun to try to be competitive in a situation where my senses feel completely neutered. So I don’t have a favorite racing game.
    I also take issue with the AI in most racing games, which tends to be generally terrible at driving amongst other cars in an intelligent way.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      Which games do you feel do better?

      • MinisterofDOOM says:

        I appreciated Forza’s color-coded racing line–which helped give some impression of speed and braking ability/response and put them in a place where my eyes naturally looked anyway–as one of the better attempts.
        Some more realistic sims offer detailed live telemetry displays which are kinda helpful, but don’t really put the info where it’s going to be helpful for me DURING the race…that presentation is best for review afterward. rFactor’s MotecAdd-DX addon, for instance, shows a lot of the info I’m after…but not in a quick-reference format that’s particularly useful during a race.

  12. Jason Moyer says:

    Shift 2 until Project CARS comes out later this year, hopefully.

    Grid 2 is interesting, I guess, although I’m curious if it’s going to go the route of the F1 series where each entry has gotten better and better or the DIRT series where each entry has gotten worse and worse. On the plus side, the first Grid didn’t set the bar very high.

    I’d like to check out WRC3, but I’m still holding out hope that it will eventually get Greenlit. The fact that it even needs to go through that process in light of the rubbish Valve instantly approves seems silly to me.

    (If you’re talking favorites of all time, then the answer is Richard Burns Rally or Grand Prix 4 or GTR2.)

  13. Bracknellexile says:

    Carmageddon II got played to death back in the day. I’m hoping the remake lives up to expectations.

    More recently though it’s been Grid and, whilst it’s undoubtedly flawed, I’m finding I’m wasting quite a few hours in the new WRC 3.

  14. Guvornator says:

    TOCA Touring Cars 1 and 2. Loads of fun, plus my Microsoft Sidewinder Wheel actually worked with them! Happy days, and always funny when the race replays went wrong…

  15. bionicazn says:

    I use to love Sega Rally on the Saturn :D. On the Playstation I enjoyed playing Gran Turismo and Destruction Derby!

  16. eXo_Sherlock says:

    My favourite racing game to LAN play has to be ToCA Race Driver 2 – we had some epic races on that game, back in the day. We evolved over to GRID when it came out, but it never really caught our attention as well, so we migrated back.

    Other than that, I did used to love the Formula 1 game I had on the Nintendo 64. Used to race whole seasons on that, full race length, with damage and pro simulation mode on. Loved it.

    • Splynter says:

      Was it F1: World Grand Prix? Played that at the height of my F1 obsession, and boy was it a great game. I seem to recall having a lot of fun turning off penalties and trying to knock the wheels off other racers.

  17. motherpuncher says:

    Gran Turismo 5. I spent many hours playing that game. It is also the first racing game that I played with a nice steering wheel and pedal setup. So much fun.

    I am currently waiting in anticipation for great looking games set to release in the next year or so.

  18. Marik Bentusi says:

    Can’t say I’ve played too many, so I’m sticking with NFS:MW (the original).

    edit: scratch that, totally forgot Driver: San Fransisco.

  19. noom says:

    Beetle Adventure Racing! Or maybe Extreme G.

    I have terrible taste in racing games ok?

  20. Laurentius says:

    Back in the day Lotus 3 and now Outrun 2006 Coast to Coast – Splash Wave and drifting ! Omg i am gonna play it right now .

  21. Guest_84592 says:

    In all honesty: Live for Speed. Best 24(?) pound I have spent in my life.
    There is no other racing game that has eaten so many hours, and driven me so extremely to perfect my technique. It’s actually the game that got me to buy a driving wheel. Also got the best online multiplayer I have ever seen with any racing game.
    Too bad it’s dead by any reasonable measure, and always was weak on cars and tracks.

  22. BreadBitten says:

    ‘WipEout HD’, no questions asked. If we’re allowed to pick more, then 2nd place goes to ‘Burnout: Revenge’ (never played ‘Paradise’).

    • fish99 says:

      I actually found Wipeout HD disappointing. The tracks are all from the PSP versions, so they’re short (mostly 20-30 second laps), designed for playing on the go, and have fairly simple layouts without technical sections. They really don’t compare with the best tracks from Wipeout Fusion, which were 40-60 second laps and have a ton more variety of locations and spectacular backdrops to see. The game structure in HD is also pretty weak IMO, with lots of dull challenges.

      I was hoping we’d get a proper PS3 Wipeout game at some point, but that’s not gonna happen now since Sony shut Psygnosis down.

  23. Rian Snuff says:

    Dirt 3 (Only because my current budget can’t afford 4) > Flatout Ultimate Carnage > Wipeout series.

    Dirt 3 with a group of buddies being aggressive as all hell with full simulation/damage is pure amazing in my opinion.

    The end?

    PS, I’d love to see a new Road Rage.. On PC..
    Holy sheeet that would rock.
    (Honorable mention of Trackmania)

    • Suits says:

      there is no Dirt 4

    • Snargelfargen says:

      “my current budget can’t afford 4″

      This is me, but for Dirt 3. I’ve never seen it cheaper than $35 and currently it’s sitting at $49 on steam. The DLC add many exciting tracks and cars but they are hidden away somewhere in GFWL and cost ~$50 in total.

      Apparently there’s a complete edition including the dlc, which I would purchase pretty much instantly even at full price for a 2-year-old game. It isn’t available on any digital download sites though.

      Just googled “Dirt 3 Complete edition” on and the second result is a torrent…

      • trjp says:

        Dirt3 has been cheap a few times but it has this horrific GFWL (yes THAT) only DLC which invades every corner of the game and which is never discounted so wait for a ‘Complete Edition’ because it’s about £14 to unlock every DLC-based event and without those you cannot ‘Gold’ everything in the game (no really!!)

        Which is reason enough not to care about it I reckon.

        Dirt2 is the better game – Dirt3 has Gymkhana which is fun for a while but also bloody hard and frustrating and not really worth the admission price alone – and I think Dirt2 had the slightly better track offerings – in fact I know it did cos I keep going back to it and not Dirt3

  24. Crow says:

    Flatout 2 and Mobil 1 Rally Championship are my most favorite. Recently however I spent ton of hours with Forza 3.

  25. randomkeyhits says:

    Though I had great fun with Burnout Paradise, first place would have to go to the original TOCA Touring Car Championship. No rubber banding and, for the time, great AI, plus I could recognise and relate to all the tracks.

  26. C0llic says:

    I used to love the old TOCA games from codemasters. Spilt screen co-op with my little brother on the PS2. Since then, not many racing games have been able to hold my interest

  27. trjp says:

    I’m a car racing fan and always have been. Whilst I played all the early arcade games, the first game to really catch my eye was Revs on the BBC Micro. It had PROPER red/white stripey kerbs and real tracks, the £500+ it and a machine cost was way beyond me and my only real desire for a long,long time.

    Moving on, I think I’ve played every racing game there is and I’ve formed some strong opinions about them. For me it’s about modelling cars and their physics in a believable and pleasing way and wrapping some actual GAME around that.

    Driver – for example – was a game based around this idea of a slidey 70s muscle car and it was great for it’s time – but it’s not a ‘racer’ really is it? That said, Driver: SF is a fantastic game which no-one should miss at it’s current ‘bargain’ price – it’s not a racer either tho.

    The first popular licensed racer was probably Gran Turismo, which was great in it’s time but it focussed on the cars and tracks and offered almost no “game” behind that . After GT2 I lost interest in it’s “buy car, tune car, win easily, repeat” formula completely.

    MSR on Dreamcast was amazing tho – tracks which suited the cars, cars which handled well and some GAME to play too. It was the best racing game ever for a LONG time (and PGR2 also held that crown for much the same reasons – PGR3/4 weren’t the best games at the time tho)

    Grid moved the game on a bit – it took racing a bit more seriously but maintained the variety – I liked it but it was a system-killer in it’s day, I hope this one is more sympathetic!?

    Forza is just GT with even shinier graphics tho Forza Horizon is quite good, if a BIT of a Skinner Box perhaps (see also Driver: SF)

    Need for Speed: Shift tried to head further into ‘sim’ territory but results are mixed. It has a fantastic sense of speed and amazing in-car options but the handling tries to do too much and never makes it – it’s not arcadey and it’s not sim and it never feels quite right to me.

    Off tarmac, the DIRT games are the kings – Dirt2 is quite possibly the best racing game ever made in it’s own way – take a rallycross track, the throwing of the car into huge drifts from dirt to tarmac and scrabbling that last bit of grip – epic, epic, epic.

    An honourable mention too for the original Need for Speed: Most Wanted which just took the city racer/tuning formula and wrapped it with some interesting gameplay ideas and fantastic handling (on the original XBOX at least, the PC version feels sloppy to me). It’s my “best arcade racer” ever.

    Note: I’ve little interest in flying spaceships or any form of armoured racing (other than Carmageddon perhaps), I don’t even care for “Mario Kart” games much – they’re not really ‘racers’ in my book…

    p.s. I don’t play “sims” because they tend to be slow-motion understeer simulators and I can’t afford a decent enough wheel and pedals to pretend otherwise :)

  28. crocket21 says:

    I used to really enjoy Rock and Roll Racing on the SNES.

  29. mr.black says:

    Hmm.. depends on my nostalgia amount I have at the given time.. If lots, then NFS 3 Hot Pursuit, the original; If less, then NFS Underground I played for most hours; If none, than Burnout Paradajz and Driver SF are still lots of silly fun..

  30. Bracknellexile says:

    Surprised to see no love for Geoff Crammond’s GP series so far. No other game had me repeating tracks over and over again to shave a tenth of a second off my time like those did and it’s still one of the best sets of games ever made at the sim end of the racing market.

  31. sharks.don't.sleep says:

    Motocross Madness – awesome physics for that time.

  32. grundus says:

    My favourite ever is probably Wipeout 2097, I really believe that game is responsible for my taste in music, my desire to be a graphic designer (got as far as a degree then never found work…!) and my love for the little details in sci-fi. The logos and catchphrases made it something really special, kind of more than just a racing game. Hard to explain. That game meant a lot more to me than most, you see.

    My favourite that I still play is probably… I’m not sure. I’m going to say Project CARS, but that’s more because I’m excited to see what it’s like when it launches. Right now it’s not my favourite, but I’m confident it will be.

  33. jon_hill987 says:

    Re-Volt, no question.

  34. SuicideKing says:

    NFS II: SE, Andretti Racing. Ah, 1999!

    In more recent times, NFS HP2 and NFS Shift, though to play Shift properly i think one requires a steering wheel, which i haven’t got :(

    • SuicideKing says:

      BTW i completely HATE the recent fusion of NFS and Burnout.

      • trjp says:

        The new NFS:MW is weird – it’s not an NFS – it’s definately not MW – it’s almost certainly Burnout but that name doesn’t appear and it’s also a bit pants.

        Online is good – it’s BP’s online polished to fuck and back – but offline is a grind/chore of a thing.

        • SuicideKing says:

          Yeah i know what you mean…i made the mistake of buying NFS: HP (BURNOUTFACE EDITION)…couldn’t even play the pursuits, was too annoying. Also, horrible console port.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      I’m on my 4th or 5th career playthrough in Shift 2 using an xbox pad and it works fine, in all honesty.

  35. Radiant says:

    The trick to older racing games was to turn up the resolution to stupid levels.
    Slowed the entire game down to a manageable crawl even though the speedo said 5million mph.

    Rollcage I’m looking at you.

  36. cHeal says:

    There are many.

    It’s quite likely that I have spent the greatest amount of time on Grand Prix 2, with Grand Prix 4 very close behind. Still play Grand Prix 4 though. Simply put no other game challenges it for AI and since I drive not just for the challenge but for the experience this makes Grand Prix 4 the most absorbing and immersive experiences I have ever played. I can’t speak for the physics (which are at least very very impressive) but the AI is simply fantastic. It reacts appropriately to pitstops, weather changes, and my position on the track near it. It makes mistakes, it provides great challenge but most importantly it feels real.

    Rally Championship was an immense challenge back in the day and I still consider Richard Burns Rally the best Rally sim ever built. Grand Prix Legends was a great game but I only acquired a wheel many years after its hayday. GTR2 was fantastic, a bruising and visceral racing sim but its AI was at time simply atrocious.

    Currently most of my racing time (which is the vast majority of my gaming time) is with Project Cars. It’s really difficult to judge the game, with specific car and track selections feeling utterly mundane. But equally driving the 78 lotus around the old Nurburing is one of the single most enjoyable pursuits I have in my life at this moment. It is so long and so challenging, with so many corners to remember. Driving on the absolute limit as much as you dare is truly incredible. So too the Lotus 67 is immense fun, the DTM audi, the formula ford cars and classic NASCAR ’90 car around somewhere like Watkins Glen is such an absolute delight it is really quite hard to describe. But at the current time the AI is still at an early stage and I fear for its overall cohesion as a racing experience with so many disparate racing series and few cars to fully populate them. Which is astounding given the huge number of cars. Right now it is a rag tag collection of cars with little rhyme nor reason.

    I really hope the final product is as good as it could be but I worry about the lack of vision that I feel is present in the design of the overall product. I have already bought it and already have gotten my monies worth from it in terms of the time I have spent playing it but it truly will be a shame if the great work that has gone into it (graphically and in its physics) is not presented in an attractive enough package to make it equal to the sum of its parts.

  37. ShineyBlueShoes says:

    I think GRID is still my favorite as it just hit all of the right notes, though Ridge Racer 64 still holds a sweet spot in my heart. That stupid, rigid, cheating awful game that could not stop playing and still never unlocked all the cars.

  38. captain nemo says:

    Burnout 2 : Point of Impact (probably for the gratuitous destruction) <3 <3 <3

    I also loved the music/ambiance. None of that DjStryker/EA Tracks rubbish.

    Big Surf Shores footage here ; Good times
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTxSHbOzG2E

    • Guvornator says:

      Why on earth did they ditch Crash Junctions for Showtime? Apart from being good fun on your own, it was perfect for some post pub shenanigans with a group of friends. Showtime is fiddly pants.

  39. Inzimus says:

    Pitstop II (C-64)
    Lotus 3 (Amiga 500)
    Stunt Car Racer (Amiga 500)

    today’s racing games just don’t cut it for me.

    (and yes, I still have the computers hooked up and play these on a regular basis)

  40. sirchen says:

    Shift 2! I’ve picked it up last summer alongside a proper steering wheel and it has been the most fun game I’ve played ever since. I only have time to play games over the summer and usually try to catch up on the best games. Unfortunately, nothing really motivated me to keep playing (which included the likes of Portal 2 or Crysis 1), except for Shift 2.
    God, Shift 2 is wonderful. It’s just slighly not a Simulation so that you feel the excitement of driving a ‘real-car’ without having to have perfect handling (once you let go of most of the little help-tools, it feels very real!!!).

    There is little more rewarding than learning to handle a Golf, some slow Nissan and then gradually graduate to faster more impressive cars. Over Christmas I finally got to GT1 class-cars. Playing ‘just one round’ at night is worst idea you can ever have – all the adrenalin rushing through body will make you stay awake for the next 3 hours at least.

    Give it a try!

    • BrokenSymmetry says:

      Shift 2 really is a wonderful and underrated game. Huge amount of tracks, and by far the best in-car experience of any racing game.

      • Jason Moyer says:

        I finally dug this out about a month ago and I’ve been playing the heck out of it. The only real criticisms I have are the way your garage gets clogged up with unsellable cars (particularly with the DLC installed – you can fix this with a mod but then the car rewards don’t work) and the AI, which can be frustratingly slow (there’s probably a mod for that somewhere). The car/track selection and driving are fabulous, though.

        I’ve been enjoying it enough that I was going to go buy into Project CARS, but apparently they’re no longer allowing signups which is a bummer.

        • trjp says:

          I like Shift 2 but like it’s predecessor I can never quite

          a – get a controller setup which feels right – something is always wonky and I’ve spent HOURS on this
          b – shake the idea that it’s not driving ‘for me’ sometimes…

          There are also some crappy tracks and some dodgy AI issues and that annoying American giving it too much “sup dude” but at it’s core there’s a solid racer there and even the drifting is OK in 2.

          Shift 1 was OK too – if you ignored the abysmal drifting at least. The latter races with Bugattis/SLRs etc.also had RIDICULOUS speed, I mean they were like SpaceBalls “Ludicous Speed – ENGAGE” – nothing, and I mean NOTHING takes off like they do :)

          Races with those cars were really demolition derbies tho :)

  41. Armante says:

    44 second video. 9 seconds of ‘gameplay’ consisting of cars driving past. On a bang for buck scale, this rates a ‘meh’. They do look nice though. /grumble

  42. DrGonzo says:

    San Francisco Rush 2049!

    • Flit says:

      Yep yep yep! Nothing fits the bill quite like secret routes, moon gravity stunts, and constant explosions. Can’t wait for Distance!

  43. SuperNashwanPower says:

    Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge
    STUN Runner
    Paperboy
    Chuckie Egg

    OK the last two arent racing games but I am feeling nostalgic

  44. Stochastic says:

    This year looks to be a busy one for virtual gearheads. A look ahead at some upcoming releases:

    Project C.A.R.S.
    Race Room Racing Experience
    rFactor 2
    Assetto Corsa

    All of these games have playable alphas/betas at the moment except for Assetto Corsa, which should have a “tech preview” in the coming weeks.

  45. F3ck says:

    Presently I’m playing (well, over the last year) Blur, NFS:HP, and Driver SF…it is Hot Pursuit that I play most often though.

    Can’t help myself.

  46. Orontes says:

    Ignition’s my favourite. Amazing tracks and just generally good fun.

  47. Suits says:

    Mario Kart 64

  48. fish99 says:

    If you’re talking sims then stuff like iRacing (was subbed for 3 years, may go back for the Lotus 49) and Grand Prix Legends are the peaks of the genre, and where I’ve had the most hours of fun. Also noteable mentions for Grand Prix 2, Richard Burns Rally, GTR 1+2, rFactor, LFS etc.

    I like my arcade racers too though, the Wipeout series, POD, PGR 1-3, Forza 1+2, the early Gran Turismo games (GT5 is a total mess btw), Re-Volt, even Wave Race on the N64.

    I have a strong dislike for almost everything from EA and Codemasters though.

    Best overall? Grand Prix Legends. Nothing beats those tracks and the feeling of driving those cars, especially in a league. iRacing is the only thing that comes close nowadays.

  49. JD Ogre says:

    Favorite? Damn. That’s a tough one. So hard to decide between “Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit” (best vehicles and tracks and best feel to the racing) or “Need for Speed IV: High Stakes” (not quite as good looking as NFS3 was, nor as good vehicles or tracks, but it had a great progression system).

    EDIT: Oh, wait! I can’t believe I almost forgot about “Racing Destruction Set”! Then again, it’s been more than 20 years since I last played it (compared to a decade for the two NFS games above).

  50. Spacewalk says:

    Scud Race. It beat out all of the other SEGA racing games to become my favourite which took some doing because I don’t think that SEGA ever made a bad arcade racer. Shame it never got ported to anything.

    Sorry PC gaming site, no computer games in this post.

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