High-speed racing games have come a long way from the low-pixelated days of certain arcade classics, but that’s not to say newer is necessarily better. Whether you love to race as your favourite F1 driver, speed along city streets in exotic road cars, or kick up the dust on a rough and ready rally course, read on to discover our top 10 all-time greatest racing games.
10. Assetto Corsa
If you love racing sims, this is the game for you. Following in the hallowed footsteps of classics like Daytona USA, Assetto Corsa features laser-scanned tracks and offers incredible realism for when you want to feel like you’re really behind the wheel of a BMW M3 or Mercedes C9.
9. Daytona USA
Which leads us nicely on to the godfather of driving simulator games. Who can forget the excitement when you jump into a full-size bucket seat in an arcade, and get your hands on a real-life wheel for the race ahead. Daytona USA first appeared in 1993, but remains a popular choice for gamers to this day.
8. Road Rash
If you suffer from the occasional bout of road rage and you’re not sure why, ask yourself whether you played Road Rash as a child. Aiming punches at Biff or clubbing Spike around the head with a baseball bat as you bid to win races and upgrade your motorbike is hardly the best way to learn a respectful roadside manner.
7. Micro Machines
Whether you’re dodging spilt orange juice, using playing cards as ramps or trying to avoid falling down the pockets of a snooker table, few racing games are quite as fun-filled as Mirco Machines. From basic versions on handhelds like the Game Boy to recent releases on consoles such as the PS4, one of the best features of Micro Machines is the action-packed multiplayer mode.
6. Colin McRae Rally
If you grew up loving a good old racing game in the 90s, there’s a very good chance this title gave you your first insight into the gravel-spraying world of rally driving. Hugely realistic and with the opportunity to work your way through practice modes to hone your hairpin technique and handbrake turns, the series continues under the name of Dirt Rally to this day.
While sometimes it’s great to play games that are dripping with realism, on other occasions we all love to use games to escape the realms of what’s usually possible. And this is certainly the case with the Burnout franchise, where you have to perfect the dark arts of smashing your competitors to bits in order to emerge victorious.
4. Codemasters F1
The Warwickshire-based game studio released their first foray into the Formula One market in 2010, and have taken things to a whole new level. The latest versions take advantage of the stunning advances in modern graphics to serve up an ultra-realistic experience, while you can play along in career mode or race classic F1 cars too.
3. Need for Speed
One of the most successful gaming series of all time, Need for Speed first debuted in 1994 and has even gone on to inspire a film adaptation. From modifying your car to high speed police chases along realistic city settings, the game was a major step forward for racing titles and helped to spawn other hits like Burnout and the Forza Horizon series.
2. Mario Kart
A completely different kettle of fast-paced fish from racers like Need for Speed and Assetto Corsa, it’s hard to think of any multiplayer game that’s had the same impact as Mario Kart. Taking control of your favourite characters like Mario, Luigi, Bowser, Toad, Yoshi and Princess Peach, you race around action-packed tracks while using every trick in the book to blast and even shrink your opponents.
1. Gran Turismo
This classic title has been at the forefront of the racing genre for over 20 years. It’s an icon for a whole generation of gamers, and has always been known for its slick graphics, realistic gameplay and a host of exotic cars and great tracks. The first release was a game changer, a driving sim where proper skills behind the wheel were rewarded with the fastest laps and most exhilarating victories.