A debate raged within the Repco Garage office as the editorial team discussed the best racing games to have graced the shelves of Kmart, Target, Big W, JB HI-FI, Brashs and EB Games, representing each decade of the console or PC.
It was a vigorous discussion as the team remembered some ace titles such as Mario Kart, Need For Speed, Forza, Colin McRae Rally/Dirt, V8 Supercars, Toca Touring Cars, Gran Turismo, Burnout, Daytona, Sega Rally and even some old timer suggested Geoff Crammond’s Grand Prix!
Racing games continue to play an important role in bringing new fans to motorsport by making it accessible no matter the age or budget. It also provides an experience of driving dream machines from the world’s most exotic brands or halo models available not only in the current marketplace, but from the past. Lately, the development of technology allows drivers to complete preparation for race events the realism has become so good.
CLICK HERE for Part 1 of our look back at the games that laid the foundation for gaming greatness.
CLICK HERE for Part 2 of our racing game rewind, taking in the 1990s.
So here is the result from this discussion, a reflection through time of racing games starting with the 2000s:
V8 Supercars Race Driver
Building on the successful TOCA Touring Car Series, Codemasters launched a new game in 2000 featuring a championship based on the V8 Supercars Series. Titled TOCA Race Driver overseas, but V8 Supercars: Race Driver locally featured all the teams from the 2001 championship, except the Holden Racing Team. Damage, graphics and physical feel were improved, which led to a further two editions being released with V8 Supercars 3 a cult classic.
XBOX’s rival to Sony’s Gran Turismo franchise, Forza is another title to last the test of time and was developed to display the capabilities of Microsoft’s first console. Development started in 2001, but the original Forza Motorsport was released another four years later featuring 231 models, effects of damage, paint job editor, tuning and upgrades purchased by in game currency. It supported multiplayer capabilities through XBOX Live. Overall, 14 follow ups including the spin-offs Forza Horizon and Street have followed, the latter being a free-to-play racing game for mobile phones.
An arcade style game developed by the same producers of the Grand Theft Auto series Rockstar Games; Midnight Club was inspired by the real Japanese group Hashiriya also known as the Mid Night Racing Team. This group hold illegal streets runs on the Bayshore Route of the Shuto Expressway in the Greater Tokyo Area. Following the premise similar to Need For Speed: Underground where the player begins with an unmodified vehicle to one heavily improved, it only featured licenced vehicles in the third edition, Dub. Lasting for five editions, there was talk of a reboot, but this yet to occur.
In the same style as the Midnight Club series of games, Juiced is an arcade game featuring extensive modification on a variety of licenced models covering many disciplines such as street racing, sprint, drift, point-to-point and stunt events. Not only are there individual events, but ones specifically for crews. Juiced spawned two sequels in Eliminator and Hot Import Nights.
A unique game on this list is Burnout as it focuses on travelling through traffic the fastest using a variety of models, gradually getting quicker and having increased business on the roads. Locations are based on European and American cities; the Burnout series has spawned eight further games further improving the breed.
Project Gotham Racing
Conceived in 2001 for the XBOX console was Project Gotham Racing as a rival to the successful Need For Speed Playstation title and an advancement on the Metropolis Street Racer title on Dreamcast. In something unique in racing games at the time, winning a stage didn’t necessarily advance the player a stage as both driving fast and scoring Kudos points proved integral to moving through the level. Kudos points were scored by power sliding, a player’s driving skill or overtaking non-player characters in the virtual world. San Francisco, Tokyo, London and New York City provided the streetscapes in the game featuring five real-life radio stations. Four games were produced for the XBOX, while another three for mobile phones with the last being in 2009.
Online racing games developed significantly throughout the late-2000s and iRacing’s subscription-based simulator has continued this to the current day. Increasing the realism, the models available and changeable settings has made this one of the popular simulators for real drivers to learn circuits and keep match fit. Featuring a variety of disciplines and licences, it is just like real life! Well, maybe.
Chief rival to iRacing is Assetto Corsa. Launching in 2013, Assetto Corsa is designed to be a realistic racing experience featuring customization and moddability featuring both road or racing examples of many different models, while providing set up changes to the extent of tyre pressures, anti-roll bars, packer rates and hybrid settings. It also features licensed circuits including Spa-Francorchamps, the Nordschelife, Monza and Laguna Seca.
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