The racing genre is one of the most enjoyable for casual gamers and the most challenging for sim players.
Much like fighting games, racers can be played with the greatest nonchalance and the utmost skill and expertise. Whether you’re interested in shaving milliseconds off a lap time or smashing opponents with green shells and bouncing off barriers like a bowling ball, there are amazing racing games out there for you.
Trusted Reviews has put together the very best racing games you can buy. Here’s what made the cut:
- Forza Horizon 3
- Project Cars 2
- Forza Motorsport 7
- F1 2017
- Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
- Dirt Rally
- Trials Fusion
- GTA 5
- Trackmania Turbo
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1 of 10
Platforms: Xbox One, Windows 10
Forza Motorsport 7 is the most graphically stunning racing game ever seen on a console. Turn10 knows how to make gorgeous racing titles, and are often used to represent the pinnacle of visuals on any Xbox console.
It may lack the absurd depth of rivals such as Project Cars 2, but it makes up for it with accessibility and beautiful presentation across the board.
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2 of 10
Forza Horizon 3 is the fun uncle to Motorsport’s sim racing experience. Being able to drive all over a gorgeous open world, causing as much mayhem and destruction as possible is one of the most satisfying experiences of any racing game.
If you prefer spending your time hitting garden fences rather than apexes, then you need to buy Forza Horizon 3.
3 of 10
Project Cars 2 is the ultimate sim racing experience. If you’re planning on taking a sharp corner at a stupid speed, forget it, in Slightly Mad Studios’ world, you better be paying attention to braking zones, tyre selection, engine setup, the lot.
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Unflinching in the quest for realism, every car on every track feels entirely unique, and that’s even before weather effects come into play. Tracks now have localised weather, meaning on some parts of the circuit it could be raining, while others it’s bone dry, making keeping all four wheels on the tarmac that much trickier.
It’s an incredibly tough game, but one of the most rewarding race experiences for those who put the effort in and manage to get on the podium.
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4 of 10
F1 2017 is the best Formula One race experience Codemasters has made to date. With incredible racing on the track and amazing depth off it with the new R&D development tree in career mode, race fans are in for a treat.
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Previous entries saw players go from race to race only trying to be the fastest on the grid, but now much more thought is put into every rev of the engine, with tyre gearbox and engine wear playing a factor in each race.
Do you sacrifice speed for durability at Monza, hoping to move up the grid in the next race, or go all out and risk total engine failure? It’s this level of strategising that takes F1 2017 to the next level.
5 of 10
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
The King of Kart racers is back as the definitive edition on Nintendo Switch. Bringing all the DLC launched on the Wii U version, as well as new characters, gameplay tweaks and the return of the classic Battle Mode, this is the best Mario Kart has ever been.
Of course, with the Nintendo Switch, you can now take the game on the go as well as enjoy it on the big screen, and can also hook up for local play with other Switch players, perfectly blending a console and portable Mario Kart. This is the game you need.
6 of 10
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4 and PC
Dirt Rally almost single-handedly kept the Codemasters doors open in 2015. After failing to get approval to be developed, the developers released the project as an early access title on Steam and it proved an overwhelming success, so much so that it later saw releases on PS4 and Xbox One.
Now, Codemasters is all in once again with the Dirt series, proven by the upcoming release of Dirt 4.
If you’re a fan of rally driving, Dirt Rally is an absolute must-buy. It’ll test your ability to keep the car on the road while every inch of it is heading for the trees. You’ll be sliding expertly around corners with Scandinavian flicks of the utmost skill and handbrake turns which make you feel amazing. Just know it’s a hard game, and for every great move, there’ll be the gut-wrenching crash in the final stage of an event that ruins your hard work.
7 of 10
Platform: PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC
What began life as one of the most-played flash-games in existence went widescreen this year. For its first Ubisoft-published iteration of its side-scrolling motorbike platformer RedLynx pulled out all the stops, throwing in new bikes, new decals, new obstacle courses, new modes and an enhanced track editor. The core gameplay, however, remains the same: Trials: Fusion is all about balance.
Players succeed by finding the right combination of rider-weight distribution and throttle. You don’t beat your best friends’ scores unless you have the most deftness of touch. It may not be the most straightforward racing game of this year, but Trials: Fusion is easily one of the best.
8 of 10
Platform: Exclusive to PS4
Sony’s new generation racer got off to a rocky start, by all accounts. It was supposed to be one of the PS4’s launch titles, but menu issues and a much need visual scrub delayed it until this year. Now that it’s off the starting grid, has DriveClub been worth waiting for?
In a word, yes; Sony’s racer is very easy on the eye and its high-octane races feel like on-road battles. The key draw here, though, is the driving quest for Fame. Players can unlock cars, earn points for both their friends and themselves and their glory rights rack up at a clip. One of this year’s more uneven racers, sure, but one of the year’s most competitive, without a doubt.
9 of 10
Platform: Xbox One, PS4 and PC coming January 2015.
Also available for Xbox 360 and PS3.
Okay, so technically GTA 5 isn’t what you’d call a racer, but it’s well worth picking up if you have a racing itch that any of the aforementioned titles in this list hasn’t scratched yet. The variety of vehicles on offer in GTA 5 is staggering and the city of Los Santos is a racers paradise, filled with highways, straightaways and ready-made circuit routes.
Aside from the campaign races with Franklin – which, we suggest you attempt after you’ve taken your car to Los Santos Customs and modded the hell out of it – GTA Online has a boatload of player-and-dev-created races in it. Once you’ve smoked them all, why not have a stab at creating your own?
10 of 10
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Ever wanted to drive RC cars across giant racetracks at impossible speeds? Trackmania Turbo comes pretty close to creating it.
Perfectly capturing the classic arcade-racer hi-score chaser feel, Trackmania Turbo is a great racer for the obsessive compulsives of this world that need to be top of the leaderboards.