Welcome to a special series of VideoGamer.com's Top 10, where we bring you the essential genre by genre video game buyer's guide for Christmas and New Year. It'll run every Thursday from now until the end of the 2008 holiday break, so, whether you're looking for some family video game ideas to get you through those boring Christmas get-togethers or some top sports games to spend that holiday cash on, look no further than VideoGamer.com. In the third of the series, we look at the Top 10 Racing Games. And don't forget, if you need more info on any of these titles, just click on it for a full review.
10. Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition Remix, PS2 and Xbox.
One of the older games in the Top 10, but well worth its inclusion. As I said in the review last year, "Rockstar's street racer is still one of the most entertaining arcade racing experiences available on consoles," and that holds true today. MC3 might not have the visuals of the modern racers, but it still features some of the most impressive city racing around. Remix was released at a budget price and with even more content than the original. You can't go wrong.
9. SEGA Rally, Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.
SEGA had a lot of pressure on its when SEGA Rally for next-gen systems was announced. The track deformation seemed like a gimmick and the structure seemed rather archaic compared to modern racers. They managed to pull it off though, delivering one of the best arcade racers of 2007. As I said in the review: "for those that get to grips with the driving dynamics and can tolerate the bare-bones structure, SEGA Rally is a fine re-imagining of a classic racing series."
8. Colin McRae Rally: DiRT, Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.
The early screenshots might have been slightly 'enhanced' but the final game more than lived up to the hype. As I pointed out in my review in June, "Colin McRae: Dirt is a solid and often spectacular first next-gen effort from Codemasters. The core racing is thrilling yet accessible and the amount of content on offer will keep players enthralled for some time." This and SEGA Rally should satisfy all your rallying needs.
7. Mario Kart DS, DS.
There are some games you expect to see on a Nintendo platform. A Mario platformer is a given, a Zelda game is a no brainer and a Mario Kart game is always going to arrive at some point. This DS entry in the series offered online play for the first time and showed just what power the handheld had under its lid. "Is it the best Mario Kart ever? Maybe, but whether you think it is or not, you'll want to play it until your fingers develop arthritis," said Iain in his review. Thankfully our fingers are still functioning.
6. Ridge Racer/Ridge Racer 2, PSP.
This PSP racer debuted alongside the Sony handheld and really showed that home console quality racers were now possible on a portable. At the time I said that "The only bad think that can be said is that Ridge Racer makes most other PSP titles look poor." While not so true today, this and its sequel are the best pure arcade racers available on the PSP by some distance.
5. Burnout Revenge, PS2, Xbox and Xbox 360.
One of the most action packed racers of all time, Burnout Revenge is the pinnacle of the series to date (Paradise is just around the corner, so maybe not for much longer). "While Burnout 3 was near bursting with action, Revenge has spilled its load all over the road, causing more damage and devastation than you could ever imagine," I said while getting rather carried away with the game on the Xbox 360 last year. The PS2 version still ranks as one of the best looking games ever to grace the console.
4. GTR 2, PC.
Iain loves his racing sims, so when he said "GTR 2 is easily the finest racing simulation available for the PC," back in December 06, you know GTR 2 is the business. With "fabulous visuals, solid sound, and physics that would make Stephen Hawking jealous," who'd argue to the contrary? Perhaps not quite as polished as some of the recent console efforts, but a must own racer all the same.
3. Test Drive Unlimited, Xbox 360 and PC.
The whole MMO aspect of Test Drive Unlimited didn't really work as I had hoped, but no other racing game has hooked me like this did. "The strange thing about Test Drive Unlimited is that it grows on you without you really noticing. Before long you'll own numerous properties, be part of a club, be thinking about buying your tenth car, and you'll have clocked up a thousand in-game miles," I said in my rather mean 8/10 review last year. You can drive for miles and miles, and you will.
2. Forza 2, Xbox 360.
Gran Turismo is missing form this list because here at VideoGamer.com HQ we find the series to be rather dull. Forza 2, on the other hand, isn't. How two games that are both car sims feel so different is hard to explain, but Forza just feels right. My review from earlier this year sums up my feelings perfectly: "With a sublime racing model, superb AI, tons of content, brilliantly simple car upgrades and tuning, an unbelievable paint shop tool and all the online options you can imagine, Forza 2 is the premier Xbox 360 racer and the new king of the genre."
1. Project Gotham Racing 4, Xbox 360.
Racing games needn't be either so sim-like that they're devoid of fun or so arcade-like that they require no skill. PGR4 from Bizarre Creations and Microsoft strikes the perfect balance between the two, making it a game that is easy to get in to but incredibly hard to master. "Whether you want to play alone or with friends over Xbox LIVE, PGR4 won't disappoint. Whoever steps into Bizarre's shoes for PGR5 has an almost impossible task as PGR4 could well be the best racer you'll play this gen." Enough said.
For a complete run-down of all our Top 10s in this series head over to our handy index page.