Cars and Video Games: What Are Some of the Best Racing Games You Should Play?

Racing Games

Playing a car game can be absolutely thrilling, especially when you know you’re in complete control of everything in the match. Simple vibration and visual cues can make you feel as though you’re behind the wheel yourself – even if you’re using a controller, a keyboard, or even a smartphone. And being able to speed up, turn, and drift awesome cars to your whims can be a dream car true for any automobile fan. So when you have a ton of racing video games you can play, what exactly should you choose?

Make a name for yourself with Need for Speed, Forza, NASCAR

Imagine being a fearless driver, pulling off stunts and racing against other ne’er-do-wells in highways without a care for the police. Or maybe you’re an actual racer, making a career out of yourself in NASCAR and becoming world champion. Some of the most hit racing games today don’t just let you race, they let you customize your cars and have entire story modes dedicated to showing your rise to the top. Moreover, they have dedicated multiplayer modes where you can race against other players online and show your supremacy.

  • Almost all modern racing games allow players to acquire and customize their own cars. Players usually earn in-game credits by finishing challenges or progressing in the story, and they, in turn, use these credits to purchase upgrades or looks for their vehicles. This gives players a sense of ownership with their cars.
  • Modern racing games usually have different themes in their campaign modes, and depending on the game itself. Need for Speed usually has a “rogue driver against the police” format with its gameplay, with its story having different dimensions. Most Wanted makes players rise to the top of the Most Wanted Drivers List, while Carbon makes players get a “crew” of drivers that give each other boosts and power-ups during races. Meanwhile, most NASCAR games involve players participating in tournaments in order to score the grand championship.
  • Driving, especially racing, can get dangerous if we’re careless. These games gain appeal because they let players do what they want with cars – especially race with them – without risking hurting themselves in the real world. And there’s always thrill defeating AI opponents (or in Need for Speed, the police) in races.

Racing Games - Mario Kart

Get crazy with Mario Kart and Rocket League

A lot of people might contest the validity of Mario Kart and Rocket League as racing games, especially since they don’t exactly use “realistic” car models, and they certainly don’t follow “realistic” physics. In fact, anyone who’s played any game in the Mario Kart franchise will say the series if anything but realistic. After all, it’s about this plumber racing against toads, turtles, mushrooms, and princesses. And Rocket League isn’t helping the case either, as it’s about monster trucks… playing soccer. Either way, they’re both racing games – in a sense that the goal (or in Rocket League‘s case, part of the goal) is to race against each other. It’s just that these kinds of racing beat-’em-up games allow cars to carry weapons and special items to give them an advantage over their opponents.

    • The main appeal of these games lies in their multiplayer nature, as while you can play these games with bots, the fun starts when you and your friends play against each other in matches. You might think throwing that banana is just for fun… until you hit a friend and they swear vengeance.
    • These novelty games often feature quirky mechanics that set them apart from traditional racing games. Outside the racing factor, these mechanics spice up the game and make them more appealing. Mario Kart and other cart-based games often feature knick-knacks and weapons that give you an advantage. Rocket League features soccer while picking up both fuel and nitro packages around the arena.

Racing Games - GTA

Enjoy racing in other non-racing titles, such as Grand Theft Auto, Mafia, Saints Row

Who says racing games are the only games where we can race? Perhaps part of the main appeal of open-world games would be the fact that they almost always include a vehicular component to travel the main world. And for games like Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row, that means racing! Granted, games like GTA and Saints Row are more open world, and they’re more of action-adventure games than racing games. However, their vehicular and racing components are quirky enough to earn a spot on this list.

  • Unlike entries that featured games with weird mechanics (Mario Kart, for instance) or simpler gameplay (Crazy Taxi, for one), a racing component of non-racing titles tend to be mini-games or included as a feature in these titles. They tend to provide a means for players to spend extra time, and they can be entire “modes” in themselves when players don’t want to do the main story.
  • Whereas arcade games and other quirky titles have a more diverse set of rules, driving in these open-world games tend to have simpler mechanics. Not only that, but there’s also limited customization to cars. This means they focus not really on the internal components of the vehicles, but on their capability to transport characters around the map. And given the vast area of these game worlds, racing around them can be quite fun for players.

Racing Games - Crazy Taxi

Crazy Taxi, Drifted, and the appeal of arcade, online racing games.

Perhaps the games that stick to a lot of racing fans the most would be games they’ve played in their childhood or casual games they’ve truly enjoyed playing. These are likely the kinds of games that truly made an impression on them, especially when they play these with friends or during their free time. Arcade games like Crazy Taxi often have fast-paced gameplay or mechanics that are straight to the point. Crazy Taxi, for instance, needs players to bring passengers to destinations as fast as possible, against all odds. Other arcade games like Initial D or the Daytona series simply have players race against one another, until their tokens run out. Meanwhile, games in sites like Drifted often feature straightforward mechanics like Madalin Stunt Cars 2 that require players to do stunts.

  • Arcade and online racing games rely on speed and straightforward mechanics to appeal to gamers. When you’re in the mall or arcade place and want to spend some time, you can just dish out a few tokens and show off your driving skills.
  • Likewise, these games also have a community component that can make them appealing to crowds. Imagine, you can play against friends in arcade booths with actual steering wheels, gear shifts, and pedals. Not only do these simulate real driving, but actually having fun with friends can make fun memories with these games.

The Best in Racing Games: Get in Gear!

When you have unique and different franchises such as Need for Speed, Forza, and Mario Kart, as well as a wide variety of independent and online offerings, you have a ton of games with a ton of mechanics and special features to consider. With the above in mind, you’ll likely have a fun time checking out these games for yourself. Likewise, if you have a ton of consoles with you, you can try out more games across console generations – as almost all of them have some racing games to offer in some form or fashion. As seen above, you’ll likely encounter 2D racing games, top-down racing games, polygon-based older racing games from previous generations, and more realistic games of today. All of these offer unique mechanics and methods of play, and they’ll most likely give different sorts of experience depending on your preferences. If you do have a favorite game that’s not on this list, let us know in the comments!

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