Friday, March 31, 2017

10 Best Driving Video Games

Any gearheads probably spent a considerable time in their childhood playing car racing video games. I certainly did: at the age of 6, one of my first interaction with Lamborghinis and Ferraris wasn't through a bedroom poster or a cut-out from a car magazine -- it was through my dad's old Windows 95 computer, driving around the country side while evading the cops, in a game called the Need for Speed.

It was glorious, and the game basically cemented me as a car person.

Since then, many more car racing games have been released, some are more arcade-ish games where you can shoot rockets out of a go-kart (or something), and some are more simulation-based games where you need to observe the proper racing lines in order to achieve the best lap.

As kids who have played a lot of those, here is our picks for the 10 best driving video games.

Out Run (1986)

Some say it is illegal to have an article about car racing video games without mentioning Out Run, the grandfather of all car racing games. Talk to any gearhead today and not one of them (unless they are under 25) will not fondly remember the days when they first took control of a red Ferrari Testarossa convertible, traveling the world, with upbeat 80s music playing in the background. As a kid, this game was tough to beat. Once you do manage to beat the game though, the satisfaction level will be high.

Battle Gear 4 (2005)

Ever dreamed of racing down Mount Akina in a panda-coloured Hachi-ruku like a certain tofu delivery driver? This relatively unknown arcade game has already fulfilled your wishes over 10 years ago. With a roster of JDM sports cars, a realistic physics engine that tests your driving skills, complete with a manual gear box (with a clutch!) set up, AND the ability to purchase your own car (with a car key) and tune it through the online system, this game is every driving enthusiasts' dream, and still popular in certain arcades today.

Grand Theft Auto V (2013)

GTA V has never really been a racing game -- it doesn't have the best driving physics, and it is certainly not designed to be a driving game. For some of us though, that hardly matters. The game has provided one of the most immersive environment to be driving around in, in the setting of Los Santos (an LA-replica) and the surrounding Hollywood Hills and a sprawling desert. It is the sandbox where you can drive anything you want, from taxis, garbage trucks, police cars; to muscle cars and foreign exotics. With such a beautiful environment and a lively city complete with back roads and highways, this is the ultimate road-trip simulator.

Forza Horizon 3 (2016)

Speaking of fun sandboxes, Forza Horizon 3 offers exactly that, minus a lot of the mayhem but with a whole lot more realism when it comes to driving mechanics. Complete with gorgeous rendering of the Australian outback, engine sounds that could pass off as the real car, and a vast array of cars and SUVs that are available at your fingertips, it is a great spin-off from the track-focused driving simulation game genre. 

Need For Speed 5: Porsche Unleashed (2000)

When you talk about Need for Speed, most people will immediately associate it with underground racing and being chased around by Highway Patrol units. Very few people will likely remember this particular installment, which exclusively featured a vast number of classic and modern Porsches, complete with exhilarating game modes that place you as a factory test driver and winning one-make races against other Porsches. It was also one of EA's few attempts to step away from the arcade-style video game and do a grown-up simulation game. They did a good job. 

Driver (1999)

The year was 1999. At that point, most of the driving games were still focused on closed circuit racing with exotic cars. Out came Driver, which jump-started the mission-based, cops and robbers style gameplay set in the heyday of American car chase movies -- the '70s. The open world game featured a beautifully recreated Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City as your playground. Want to feel like Gene Hackman or Steve McQueen? Go to your local Blockbusters, pick up this game, and pop it in your Playstation. And seriously, just watch that intro sequence. 

Midtown Madness (1999)

Midtown Madness was another open-world game that came out in the late 90s, featuring a game world recreation of modern-day Chicago, while at the same time giving you the freedom to choose from driving a Ford Mustang to a Freightliner semi-truck. The game also provided freedom in choosing the weather model (including snow) and traffic density, from having no traffic at all to a full-on traffic jam in the middle of Downtown. What's more notable though, is the insane customization you can do to the game, with online communities adding more cars and locations to the game like an automotive equivalent of Minecraft. 

Sega Rally Championship (1994)

Anybody who has grown up in the 90s will also more than likely to remember this game as well, complete with the classic Toyota Celica rally car in the red, green and white Castrol livery.
By mid-90s standards, the driving physics and handling were unrivaled, an experience akin to placing you right in the driver seat of a rally car with your navigator guiding you through desert, forest, and mountain range courses.

Gran Turismo 2 (1999)

They call this game the "ultimate driving simulator" for a reason. When the first Gran Turismo came out, it revolutionized the driving game genre, with its ultra-realistic driving dynamics, insane customization allowed for vehicles, and the huge variety of real-world courses you can stretch your supercar legs on. GT2 took the original formula, and cranked the volume up to 11 -- now, you have access to nearly 650 vehicles and 27 racing tracks, including rally. You can also modify your car and fine tune suspension, gearing, and brake set ups, and observe how they all change your car's behavior and your lap times. All from a game that came out over 18 years ago.

Think we missed your favorite video game on this list? Let us know in the comments! 

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