Top 10 Best Racing Games of All Time
As video games become more and more realistic, AutoGuide.com decided to take a look at the top 10 best racing games of all time.
Considering there are decades of racing games to go through, choosing just 10 games is no easy task. With storied franchises like Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport seemingly always hogging the spotlight, it’s easy to forget that there was once a time where video games didn’t feature high-definition graphics and 60 frames per second.
SEE ALSO: Top 10 Best Cars of Gran Turismo
And for video game fans out there, the future is bright now that virtual reality is available, including the recently launched PlayStation VR. So what better time than now to see which racing games have paved the way?
10. Out Run
The original Out Run was released as an arcade game by Sega in 1986 and went on to become one of the best-selling video games of all time. In the classic driving game, players piloted a Ferrari Testarossa Spider from a third-person perspective and it also featured nonlinear gameplay, allowing racers to choose if they wanted an easier or harder course after each level. Out Run was also available on the Master System and Genesis consoles and recently enjoyed a re-release on the Nintendo 3DS last year.
9. F-Zero GX
If you owned a Super Nintendo Entertainment System, there’s a real good chance you had yourself a copy of F-Zero, regardless of whether or not you were a fan of cars. That’s because, at the time, F-Zero was one of the best futuristic racing games that pushed the envelope on graphics, speed and gameplay. So why wouldn’t the original F-Zero make our list? That’s because those few people that owned a GameCube got to enjoy F-Zero GX in 2003, with much better graphics and customization options. It’s really unfortunate that Nintendo hasn’t revisited the F-Zero franchise in over a decade.
8. Super Off Road
Who remembers standing in line at the arcade to play the four-player Ivan “Ironman” Stewart’s Super Off Road? The arcade racing game was released in 1989 and you might remember it for having a steering wheel as the controls. The game later made its way to the original Nintendo Entertainment System before going to numerous platforms including the PC, Game Boy and Genesis. And remember, this was one of the few games that actually supported four players on the original NES!
7. Project Gotham Racing
As a spiritual successor to Metropolis Street Racer, Project Gotham Racing was a launch title for the original Xbox console and quickly went on to become the second best-selling game for the system behind none other than Halo: Combat Evolved. Some would argue that today’s Forza Horizon series wouldn’t exist without Project Gotham Racing, which went on to have four games of its own.
6. Crazy Taxi
This open world racing game was first released in arcades in 1999 before Sega Dreamcast owners were able to enjoy it at home a year later. In the game, players picked up customers while driving a taxi and the goal was to get them to their destination as quickly as possible. If you didn’t get a chance to enjoy Crazy Taxi when it was first released, it’s currently available on iOS and Android devices.
5. Burnout Paradise
For those looking for more than just racing from flag to flag, the Burnout series of games offered a place where crazy antics were rewarded. There’s plenty of games in the Burnout series, but our favorite is Burnout Paradise, originally released in 2008 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 before heading to PC in 2009.
4. Need for Speed: Most Wanted
Before there was Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport, there was Need for Speed. The series has such a rich history that a movie has been made based on it. In 2005, Need for Speed: Most Wanted was released on various platforms, but it enjoyed the most success on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. It went on to become the best-selling title in the series, spawning a reboot of the game in 2012 for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation Vita, Wii U and mobile devices.
3. Super Mario Kart
You literally can’t have a list of racing games without including any of the Super Mario Kart games from over the years. While the latest Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U brings high-definition graphics to the franchise for the very first time, we can’t look past the original Super Nintendo version that really started it all. Originally released in 1992, Super Mario Kart featured a roster of iconic Mario Bros. characters and was a kart racing game that offered a variety of gameplay modes, including a player vs. player combat. The series has turned Rainbow Road into an iconic, virtual track while blue and red shells have probably caused a breakup or two.
2. Gran Turismo 3
With so many Gran Turismo games to choose from, it’s really hard to pick just one. So why did we go with Gran Turismo 3 that was released in 2001? It was the first Gran Turismo on the PlayStation 2, so at the time, it felt next generation and at the time, had a roster of cars like no other racing game available. It also came long before video games began focusing on microtransactions and DLC packs, meaning once you paid for the game, you got all the content you needed. For the most part, driving felt the most accurate in Gran Turismo 3 and some would say it’s the only Gran Turismo game that has lived up to the hype.
1. Forza Motorsport 4
There was a time that most every gamer believed that no driving simulator would dethrone Gran Turismo. And then Microsoft came along with Forza Motorsport and made its own contender for its Xbox systems. It was a real tough decision to not put a Forza Horizon game in this spot, but we also wanted to avoid the redundancy of having two different Forza titles on our list. Truth be told, if you love open world racing games, nothing is more satisfying or more in depth than what Forza Horizon has to offer. But if you’re a gearhead and want to track world famous tracks while enjoying a giant collection of cars, including the oddball Pontiac Aztek, then there’s nothing better than a Forza Motorsport entry.
So why is Forza Motorsport 4 at the top of our list? To us, it was the most polished of all the entries and its gameplay suited both casual and hardcore gamers. Plus it had a massive car and track list to choose from, and surprisingly, it has aged really well.
Jason Siu began his career in automotive journalism in 2003 with Modified Magazine, a property previously held by VerticalScope. As the West Coast Editor, he played a pivotal role while also extending his expertise to Modified Luxury & Exotics and Modified Mustangs. Beyond his editorial work, Jason authored two notable Cartech books. His tenure at AutoGuide.com saw him immersed in the daily news cycle, yet his passion for hands-on evaluation led him to focus on testing and product reviews, offering well-rounded recommendations to AutoGuide readers. Currently, as the Content Director for VerticalScope, Jason spearheads the content strategy for an array of online publications, a role that has him at the helm of ensuring quality and consistency across the board.
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