Back in 1997, Gran Turismo, regarded as one of the most distinguished ‘racer’ games of all time was released on the iconic PlayStation — an ultra-realistic simulation racing masterpiece. More than 20 years on and virtual reality headsets are allowing games across the globe to partake in lifelike races. Even if you’re not a diehard gamer, you’ll most likely have a favourite racing game to bring you into a fun, adrenaline-fuelled world.

The evolution of video games is certainly an impressive one, with exponential developments in graphics and hardware. Here, we’ll take a look at some of the greatest racing games of all time.

1.      Gran Turismo

As pointed out, Gran Turismo (GT) is one of the first established racing games based on real-world cars, and from here, a new generation of gaming was born from Japanese car modification culture. Taking five years to develop this (now looking back) hazy and pixelated game, a total of 10.85 million copies were sold worldwide. The game was received so positively by gamers that it became one of the highest rated racing games of all time, resulting in a series of sequels and spin-offs to satisfy gamers’ hunger for better and more.

Many consider the first GT game to be the best due to it revolutionising the racing game world. In this video game classic, gamers used Ford Fiestas, Honda Civics, and many more attainable car models to race against other computer-generated players. Players could realistically modify their cars, progress through a motorsports career, race around city streets or racing track venues, with licence options to learn how drive fast in the game. After lots of empty promises, online play was finally introduced in the fifth instalment.

The latest of the series is Gran Turismo Sport, released in 2017, however this game focused more on the online experience with significantly less cars. Following consumer demand for more racing games with virtual reality integrated in the gameplay, PlayStation VR introduced immersive content for gamers to race each other in VR, coming a long way from the first release.

2.      Forza Horizon

Released on 23rd October 2012, Forza Horizon comes in at a close second as a spin-off series from Microsoft’s Forza Motorsport series that unleashed a stunning selection of realistic cars. Taking things up a gear, gamers can explore an open-world map set in Britain to the background of festival music — a well-deserved position, this game hits the spot for our fellow fuel heads. These instalments of the franchise ended up becoming more popular than the main series and is perhaps comparable to GT in setting the bar high for realistic racing game standards.

Created at the intersect of arcade racing and simulation racing, Forza Horizon allows you to modify tyre pressure and suspension torsion as well as create a glistening bodywork. Forza Horizon 4 has been hailed as the greatest of this series, allowing you to both compete online with up to 72 players or solo. Dynamic weather with seasonal transition bring new challenges to the game, as well as exciting races against hovercrafts or trains. Need extra cash? Start a business to rent out supercars. Every hour on the hour, challenges are set for players to work together to earn points to spend in the shop to upgrade your cars, clothing, and wheelspins.

3.      Need for Speed: Most Wanted

Following Gran Turismo and Forza comes another open-world extravaganza, Need for Speed: Most Wanted. A game that totally encapsulates attention to detail and expert craftsmanship in the gaming world — after navigating your way through winding tunnels into the blinding light, bits of dirt and blades of grass stick to your screen when you venture off-road, the quality of the radio will drop out on your Sat Nav when you trek underground. These little touches make the game one of the most realistic. There’s a lot to do in this game with a lot to discover, featuring a breath-taking selection of 41 cars like Porsche and Lamborghini. A unique aspect of the game is that instead of winning cars or earning points, you must find them — some are hidden on the top of buildings, and some are tucked behind back alleys.

Most Wanted lets players tease authorities, having the boys in blue chasing you across maps and attempting to ram you into oncoming traffic. As you become more wanted, the chase becomes more intense with SWAT teams in pursuit.

4.      Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

To be inclusive of different types of racing games, it’s safe to say that the critically acclaimed Mario Kart is the best casual arcade racing game of our time — certainly a fan favourite of all old and young gamers, who might not necessarily be gearheads or avid simulation racers.

Whether this is partly due to the fact that Mario Kart competitors have tried to replicate the success of the unique game and were struck away with a blue shell, we’re not sure. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s battle mode is unparalleled with a variety of fun modes to take part in, such as Balloon Battle where players compete to burst each other’s balloons with whacky power-ups. Colourful and creative tracks are tremendous to escape real life, with many favourite characters from the Mario series such as Princess Peach and Bowser. Perfect for online multiplayer or split screen, this is a family favourite among many, something that is certainly hard to achieve!

There we have some of the greatest racing games of all time. Each game brings with it its own unique advantages and features that helps keep gameplaying one of our favourite things to do! There are still a lot out there that suits everyone — keep your eyes peeled for other fun racing games!

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