This article is something I’ve thought about writing for a long time. It is a sort of love letter to racing games. They’ve always been my favourite type of game – and this is for many reasons – not least because I love speed and I love cars. If I’m not watching Top Gear or tinkering with my currently out of commission motorcycle, I can be found with a controller or joystick in my hand, racing my way to victory. I’ve been playing racing games since my Granda helped me make a Gider (as we called it; the Americans call them Box Cars, I think) out of some old pram wheels and some pieces of wood. What I love most about racing games is something that I don’t think any other game can provide, which is the immediate thrill and competition of seeing the little position number on your screen move from 2nd to 1st. Right, so here are my top three racing games of all time. Please feel free to disagree and comment with your own favourites.
3rd Position – Mario kart 64
This game came along the slipstream of success of its predecessor, Super Mario Kart for the Super Nintendo. What was really ground-breaking for this game was that it was in 3D. As far I know, it was the first racing game to do this, and it looked amazing and was incredibly addictive to play. My favourite aspect of this game wasn’t just the racing, but the fact that you could either fire projectile shells at competitors ahead of you, or set traps for unwitting victims coming up behind you. At ten years old, there was nothing as satisfying as hearing your friend scream out in anguish because his car had just slipped on your trap banana you had left for him. An utterly brilliant game that provided countless hours of multiplayer fun. You can find out lots more about it by reading about it on Giantbomb.com (note, this is also where I sourced the image below)
2nd Position – Gran Turismo 3
Gran Turismo 3 (for the PS2) isn’t the most recent one, as there have been a 4 and 5 since then (5 came out for the Play Station 3). No, it’s not the most up to date in the series; though it was, for me, the biggest jump in enjoyability (not really a word, but you know what I mean). When 3 came out there was all kinds of new cars, race types, race tracks and different ways of tuning up your vehicles. Where Mario Kart 64 was a game to play with your friends, Gran Turismo 3 was one to play on your own, collecting all of the best cars and tuning them up in the mechanics so that they left all of the other cars eating your dust. This game let racing gamers enjoy racing on their own and didn’t rely on them getting their friends over. This was its true genius. Another aspect of the game that I loved was how realistic it was. You had to earn your driving licence and be really careful to break at the right times. If you didn’t, you’d go flying into a wall. This was a racing game for people who wanted the genuine experience.
1st Position – Auto Club Revolution
And way out in the front is the breath taking online racing game: Auto Club Revolution! This was a tough decision for me because the other two games have real sentimental value for me. I played them when I was a kid and a teenager, and I feel a little like I’m betraying my childhood to put Auto Club Revolution in first place, but it is the best, it’s a simple as that, I suppose. This game wouldn’t be possible without the internet, and one of things I like most about it is how easy it is to just pick up and find someone somewhere in the world to beat in a race. It’s an instant fix of adrenaline and excitement. Auto Club revolution was made in conjunction with the motor industry, so they update their online garages constantly. This means that there are always new cars to try. If you follow which new cars are coming out in the real world, you can be pretty confident that you’ll find its virtual doppelganger in the game. It also takes realistic gaming to a whole new level than Gran Turismo and takes quite a bit of skill to be amazing at it (I’m still getting there).
So there you have it: my favourite racing games of all time. I hope I’ve inspired you to pull out your old N64s or PS2s or to try Auto Club Revolution . I just hope you enjoy them half as much as I do.