Racing games have been a part of gaming since the beginning with games like Night Driver and Rally X. Since then, they’ve gone from quirky and simplistic games to beautiful AAA masterpieces. While many still offer casual, arcade style gameplay some opt for the serious simulation route. We’ve compiled a list of OUR Top 3 Racing Games Franchises of all time.
#1 Gran Turismo (Polyphony Digital)
Considered one of the Playstation brand’s crown jewels, the Gran Turismo series sits on top of all other racing games. As a simulator, it offers players precision handling, sound, and visuals of both race cars and everyday cars. Cars are meticulously modeled with sound effects specially recorded for each vehicle. Whether you passion is 90s Japanese tuners, 60’s American muscle cars, or Italian exotics, GT has it. The latest entry in the series offered over 900 cars to choose from. Let that soak in for a moment… 900 cars. Rally fans are welcome, as the GT series also features both rally cars and tracks for you to mud slide across. Multiplayer has always been offered both local/split screen and more recently, online. Gran Turismo also offers extensive tuning of vehicles from transmission gears to springs in your suspension. Furthermore, it includes a collection of classic race tracks in addition to it’s own custom tracks. If you love cars and racing, then your life will have a hole in it without Gran Turismo.
Best in the series: Gran Turismo 5 (PS3)
900 cars… Top Gear licensing… online play…
Worst in the series: Gran Turismo 5 Prologue (PS3)
The least amount of content, primarily because it wasn’t a full game.
You might also like: Forza, while not as car rich as Gran Turismo it certainly holds its own in production value.
#2 Ridge Racer (Namco)
For those who are interested in an arcade experience that is anything but casual, Ridge Racer has always been the choice. Offering up drifting before it was a buzz word, the Ridge Racer series rewards players for taking high speed turns while abusing your cars traction sideways. While Ridge Racer has never had licensed cars it includes a selection of sexy sports cars which allows you to pick the attributes that best fit your play style. Courses in Ridge Racer range from a highly modern metropolis to a scenic beach side paradise. Ridge Racer’s asthetic has long been “polish” opting for an extremely modern and clean look. The cars shine, the city shines, the menus shine. If you like european dance music, then Ridge Racer will also satisfy you there too. Another classic element of the Ridge Racer series is the “race girl” who usually appears in each game’s intro sequence. If you think drifting is the nuts, then Ridge Racer is the way to go.
Best in the series: Ridge Racers (PSP)
Basically the “best of” the Ridge Racer series.
Worst in the series: Ridge Racer Unbounded (Multiple)
Race girl and Japanese aesthetics gone. Feels like a totally different game.
You might also like: Out Run. A love letter to Ferrari and drifting.
#3 Burnout (Criterion Games)
Don’t let the power punk soundtrack push you away, under the hood Burnout is a world class arcade racing experience. Opting for the extreme fun of an arcade racer, Criterion’s Burnout pushes the boundaries allowing you to shove and slam opponent racers performing “take downs”. Amidst the flurry of motion blur and sparks, the series has always been noted for it’s visual flair. Where as other racing series make you feel like you’re racing through a perfect city, Burnout takes you from the the average downtown scene to the mountain side highways; and it does so beautifully. Drifting is often rewarded with booster power, and depending on the series you gain even more points smashing your opponents. Some editions also include a specialized mode that challenges you to make the most destructive crash, tallying up the damages you make up to the millions. For the anarchist racers out there, Burnout will be a delightful escape from the standard racing games out there.
You might also like: Midnight Club. Open world arcade style racing with Rockstar’s signature flair.
#4 Mario Kart (Nintendo)
Few companies can offer pure, unoffensive fun that is as engaging to experienced gamers as it is to children just picking up a game for the first time. Nintendo started the Mario Kart series the beloved SNES and it has since grown into a system seller for every Nintendo console since. Featuring the memorable and fun cast of the Mario universe, Mario Kart offers up fun multiplayer action. Racing around familiar places from the Mario series, you need to hit apexes while also grabbing the best items. Each item offers you a special ability, whether it is a turtle shell that homes in on the nearest opponent or a giant bullet which races you to first place. Part of Mario Kart’s charm is that races are easy come, easy go. Even though you can make it into first place, you can easily be knocked from it. It’s amazing how competitive Mario Kart races can be, because the game feels natural and offers simplistic gameplay with doses of strategy and depth. A must have for all Nintendo fans and for anyone who plays with others on their couch.
Worst in the series: Mario Kart 64 (N64)
Again, not bad at all, simply the oldest of the current Mario Kart series.
You might also like: Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing. It’s Sega’s twist on the fun casual racing game filled with nostalgia from Sega’s past.
#5 F-Zero (Nintendo)
F-Zero is a futuristic racing game that forsakes tires and gasoline in favor of hovering anti-grav machines. While the series started off as an impressive Mode 7 game on the SNES it has since evolved into a full on series of racing games serving as one of Nintendo’s most loved franchises. Although the series has not received a new edition in about a decade, it’s simplicity is what makes it so good. F-Zero has always focused on speed and consequently, it truly is one of the fastest games you can play. Furthermore, as with many Nintendo games, F-Zero also includes split screen multiplayer which is pretty great. If you want to get off the tarmac and love the future, F-Zero is the game for you.
Best in the series: F-Zero GX (Gamecube)
The latest and best looking version of F-Zero. Too bad Nintendo won’t put it on the Wii U.
Worst in the series: F-Zero X (N64)
Overall, it’s the oldest of the 3D F-Zero series, so for sheer visuals alone it loses to F-Zero GX.
You might also like: WipeOut (Playstation family)
An equally good game as F-Zero, perhaps even better looking at times and with guns.
So that’s what we think are the best franchises in racing games. We considered fun factor, how the franchise has held up over the years in addition to over all innovation.
Disagree? Have your own favorites? Sound off in the comments below.