Racing games of this generation have seen a resurgence with polished and consistent AAA titles being pushed to the market with franchises like Gran Turismo, Forza, and Need For Speed. With the increasing popularity, perhaps the question arises: Is it time to revive older fan favorites that can harness the power of current-gen consoles?
25 Most Realistic Racing Games Ever
There are plenty of great racing games on the market, but these examples are the most realistic.
In that case, players should consider taking a spin in some of the best retro rides of the PS3 era because there is a good chance some of them may return in the future to remind fans why they were so good in the first place.
Updated January 19, 2024 by Waseem Muhammad: The Racing genre has always been a firm staple in the gaming community. Most racing games are now considered retro classics, but they still feel important to players all around the world. As more and more of these classics get remastered, players today get a small taste of how enriched and appealing these games were. The sense of nostalgia these games offer to this day can not be matched. Many entries below are present because of the special qualities that make them unique from the other racing games out there.
$16 $40 Save $24
- November 5, 1995
- Sony Interactive Studios America , SingleTrac
- Vehicular Combat
Think of the films like Mad Max and Death Race, and then adapt them into a video game. That is exactly what PS3’s exclusive, Twisted Metal is about: giant heavily armored vehicles and destructible environments in just an intense vehicular combat game. Strategy and grit go hand-in-hand in this reboot of Twisted Metal, as racing is always secondary to the absolute chaos and wreck-fest the vehicles’ machinery can bring about.
Every Twisted Metal Game, Ranked
With the announcement of a live-action TV show, Twisted Metal is back. The PlayStation franchise has produced plenty of games, but which is the best?
Not only does the multiplayer shine but for whatever reason, little focus is shown toward storytelling in the racing genre. Twisted Metal excels in its narrative-driven campaign. The enigmatic organizer of the tournament, Calypso, is just another knot in the web of interesting characters, all with intriguing backstories and motivations, rounding up a dark and twisted single-player story mode.
9 Midnight Club: Los Angeles
Midnight Club: LA
- October 20, 2008
- Rockstar San Diego
Everything Rockstar Games touches turns to gold, and Midnight Club: Los Angeles is no different in that regard. With a sprawling open-world Los Angeles, coupled with a banging soundtrack to go with, the game perfectly captures the essence of street racing. This feeds into the huge wealth of customization options it offers to players, including decals, paint jobs, body kits, spoilers, and rims.
Fine-tuning the ride meant the player could bring their own personality going into the races, and all the side content and activities only made the world more engaging. Finally, the dynamic day and night cycle was just the icing on the top of the Midnight Club cake, and that cake is Rockstar’s finest delicacy.
8 Motorstorm: Pacific Rift
- Platform: PlayStation 3.
- Release Date: October 28th, 2008.
- Developer: Evolution Studios.
Another off-road racer, but this time, it is much more than racing cars. ATVs, bikes, buggies, and trucks join the action in Motorstorm: Pacific Rift. This installment improves over the original Motorstorm in every way, including sound design, graphical fidelity, and multiplayer features.
Perhaps Pacific Rift’s greatest strength against its predecessor and other competition lies in the expansive environments and multi-layered track design, which will keep players coming back for more. From lush jungles to volcanic landscapes to muddy swamps, each track offers thrilling jumps, multiple side routes, and challenging obstacles to navigate around.
- Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.
- Release Date: May 25th, 2010.
- Developer: Bizarre Creations.
Probably one of the most combat-focused racing games, Blur manages to combine elements of fun go-kart racing games like Mario Kart with the thrill of modern arcade racers like Need For Speed. Want to launch a homing missile to have the opponent spinning on their tires? Check. Maybe deploy a mine to wreck the durability of the foe’s vehicle? Check. Possibly project a shockwave to bring the opponent down to a screeching halt? Check again. Blur has got all the tools in the power-ups arsenal.
Another major revelation in Blur, which hardly makes a return in any racing games today, was a local four-player split-screen co-op. Talk about fun for the whole family, friends, and enemies. Blur was just heat on wheels.
- May 18, 2010
- Black Rock Studio
Split/Second is a hard-hitting cinematic feat in racing games, blending realistic environments with an impressive scale of destructible environments. The dynamic changes to the map, termed “power plays” in the game, give a sense of player freedom and agency to completely change the course of the race, an achievement hardly replicated by other racing games.
Triggering gargantuan environmental destruction, including collapsing buildings, exploding oil tankers, crashing airplanes, and heck, even unleashing an avalanche means the tide of the race can always shift in a split second.
5 Gran Turismo 5
Gran Turismo 5
- November 24, 2010
- Sony Computer Entertainment
Gran Turismo reigns supreme when it comes to driving simulator games. The series is as old as the PlayStation brand, and with Gran Turismo 5, Sony set a new benchmark in graphical realism and authentic simulation for motorsport games.
Best NASCAR Games
There are plenty of great NASCAR games for fans of racing to enjoy. Here are the best ones.
All one thousand cars in the extensive collection of Gran Turismo 5 are meticulously modeled with a keen focus on choosing the optimal car, based on performance indicators like handling, weight, drivetrain, and traction. Then, there is a variety of breathtaking real-life racetracks to choose from, where the famous Nurburgring and Daytona International Speedway are just some of the routes to relish.
4 Need For Speed: Most Wanted
Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012)
- October 30, 2012
After years of street racing, EA decided to shake up the formula with its reboot of Need For Speed: Most Wanted, and it shook it up to the best effect. While Need For Speed: Most Wanted was not the first racing game to implement an open-world design, the non-linear progression and high-speed police pursuits fit the setting like a glove (compartment?).
The fictional setting of Fairhaven is riddled with different challenges to take as players take on Most Wanted‘s drivers to climb the ranks and become the most dangerous of all. It is the sophistication of the open-world setting that brings the solid racing mechanics of the Need For Speed series to their full fruition.
3 DiRT 3
- Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and macOS.
- Release Date: May 24th, 2011.
- Developer: Codemasters and Feral Interactive.
As the name suggests, DiRT 3 players should prepare to take on a wide variety of gritty and immersive tracks ranging from dusty rallies to snowy landscapes and all in between. DiRT 3 built on the impressive driving physics of its predecessors and took it up a notch with engaging sound design and dynamic weather conditions.
This level of immersion is only facilitated with robust modes across the board, including the stylish Gymkhana mode for practicing all the tricks up one’s sleeves and the immensely satisfying career mode with unlockable vehicles, sponsors, and exciting challenges.
2 Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit
Need for Speed Hot Pursuit
- November 16, 2010
- E10+ For Everyone 10+ due to Violence
The Need For Speed series has always been synonymous with racing games, with each entry upping the game in wild and creative ways. Hot Pursuit, a full reboot of the 1998 original, allows players to experience the thrill on both sides of the law: a classic cat-and-mouse chase between cops and racers.
Although the abilities are not too different from Blur, the novelty in Hot Pursuit comes from the sheer roster of exotic cars and high-speed racing circuits. It is hard to top the feeling of driving around in a Lamborghini at 210 mph and listening to Chiddy Bang while thunder and lightning crash all around.
1 Burnout Paradise
- January 22, 2008
- Electronic Arts
Aspects like open-world settings, customizability, destructible environments, and fast-paced action work well in racing games, and Burnout Paradise has it all in a smooth frame rate of 60 FPS, compared to traditional racing games being capped at 30 FPS.
Criterion’s achievement in Burnout Paradise quickly became the benchmark for fun open-world arcade racers, with its seamless online multiplayer, jaw-dropping takedown sequences, possibilities of stylish stunts, and extensive visual customization. Moreover, the base game continued to benefit from the developer’s strong commitment to post-release expansion packs, with the likes of Big Surf Island adding more locations and ways to play the game. All in all, Burnout Paradise was a gift that kept on giving. Even a hint of a reboot or remake for the series is sure to send waves of delight and craze across any racing fans.
Best Fast-Paced Games To Get Your Heart Racing
The pacing of a video game is conducive to player enjoyment. Here are some of the best fast-paced games that will get anyone’s heart pumping.