Car driving or racing games are among the most loved and entertaining genres in the video game industry. If you think about it, it’s easy to see why this genre is so successful. More often than not, the gameplay is fast, most titles are competitive, and anyone can log in and enjoy a good racing game.
However, the genre has seen its fair share of changes. In this article, we’ll look at some of the most essential car-driving games of all time and see how they impacted the gaming industry.
1. Granturismo (1998)
Gran Turismo is now a legendary series exclusive to PlayStation since the beginning. Gran Turismo 7 is a lesson in technical prowess and creative design, but it was the first game that wowed everyone. This game was solely responsible for reinventing the racing simulation genre on consoles.
It was comprehensive, highly competitive, and highly rewarding for experienced players. The launch of Gran Turismo was nothing short of revolutionary, and you can still pick it up and enjoy it is a reason to think twice before selling your old console.
2. Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2005)
These days, Need for Speed: Most Wanted feels less like a momentary pause in time. This game does a great job of making you feel like you’re driving at an incredible pace. You’re always in complete control of your car; there’s enough aggression to feel like you can hit something at any moment.
This release is the culmination of the series. It’s a game that oozes personality and feels similar to the early Fast and Furious movies. Also, it has such a good storyline that other NFS games fail to deliver.
3. Run Out (1986)
Out Run is one of the hottest arcade games of all time, joining the likes of Pac-Man, Space Invaders, and Galaga. The premise is simple: you drive a red convertible on an endless American highway, accompanied by one of the most eerie soundtracks in the history of video games.
The game significantly impacted the industry and influenced much of the music in modern racing and driving competitions and movies. Inspired by the movie The Cannonball Run, the game offers the instant satisfaction of hurtling to the finish line in a supercar. It’s deceptively simple yet highly addictive.
4. Go Horizon 3 (2016)
Forza Horizon 4 and Forza Horizon 5 are great games, but Forza Horizon 3 is arguably the best. The map it provides is extraordinary, the soundtrack is fantastic, and the downloadable content is entirely satisfying. Also, the challenges are pretty compared to Forza Horizon 4 and Forza Horizon 5.
It still looks as good today as it should, considering it was the foundation for later games in the series. The game has arcade-style fun, but it’s realistic enough to make you want to buy a racing wheel for your setup.
5. Pilot: San Francisco (2011)
This game is controversial compared to the other options on this list, which is a real shame. Driver: San Francisco is a whimsical and elegant game that is entirely entertaining from a narrative point of view. You play as a cop named John Tanner, who was involved in a catastrophic car accident and fell into a coma.
Here’s where it gets weird. You play the entire game while Tanner is in a coma. Things get a little more ridiculous from here, but it all ties together really well in the end. It’s a master class in storytelling, unconventional game design, and unique level design.
6: Crazy Taxi (1999)
Crazy Taxi is aptly named because this game is a chaotic adrenaline rush coupled with an aggressive and brutal soundtrack. The game has the word “Taxi” in the name, but customer satisfaction is far from your goal. Instead, the goal is to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible.
This includes finding shortcuts, landing insane jumps, and finding the craziest stunts. What started as an arcade game quickly became a massive success for Sega. It will forever be remembered as one of the most iconic games of the early XNUMX.
7. The Ridge Runner (1993)
Ridge Racer is so low on this list because it feels a bit claustrophobic to play nowadays. This is the nature of most PS1 games (Gran Turismo is a striking exception). However, just like Gran Turismo, Ridge Racer changed how driving games are played on consoles for the better.
It had tighter controls than any other game then, and it was the first time drifting in a game felt this good. It was an arcade racing game with lots of sandy beaches, massive mountains, and, for some reason, many bridges. Things have evolved a lot since then, and we owe a lot to this game.
8. Mario Kart 8 (2014)
While Super Mario Kart and previous entries in the series are the more “classic” options, Mario Kart 8 is the best. It has excellent level design, many new and classic maps, and many mayhems.
Mario Kart has always been the perfect party game because there’s nothing like hitting your friend with a blue shell just when they’re about to win.
It also makes us miss the Wii U era, which had many excellent games bogged down by somewhat unsuccessful hardware choices that Nintendo decided to eliminate. Luckily, Mario Kart is here on the Switch.
Racing games just got more addictive.
The games in the above list span from 1986 to 2016, and that’s no coincidence. We are past the golden age of racing games, and most modern games are remastered titles that lack the OG charm.
However, the truth is that most of the older titles defined emotions and gave birth to different racing game concepts, while most newer games focus on being more interactive and tactile for the players. You can now buy racing chairs, steering wheels, and gear sets—anything that makes you feel like you’re racing rather than just playing.