Opinion: The state of racing games
Updated: Nov 28, 2020
My other passion in gaming
When I was a kid, the first PlayStation game I played (and owned) was Jet Moto 2. I love that game.
My sister and I played it for hours on end. Looking back, it’s still a great game and to this day, a unique experience, but honestly, gameplay-wise, it really wasn’t that great. The turning was too loose and it just doesn’t hold up by today’s standards. At least it wasn’t as bad as all those 2D racers that came before them or even worse, the top-down racing games of the NES days.
This is where my issue comes in though because today’s standards are very strong for racing games. Most racing games that are on the market for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3—and to a lesser extent, the Wii—have been very good in terms of the ability to turn the car, the sense of speed, and the overall experience.
I remember the days when racing games were judged on how well cars could turn and games with poor turning just weren’t fun. Still, I loved Jeto Moto 2. Perhaps it was the unique tracks and the unique vehicles or perhaps it was my naivety to better gameplay.
The sad part is that in today’s gaming environment, the racing genre doesn’t seem to be very popular. The Dirt series is excellent and with Grid 2 on the way, Codemasters has been one of my favorite developers this generation. MotorStorm is a great series as well but the rubber-band AI made the series hard to enjoy. Gems like Blur, Split/Second and Burnout Paradise will be fun to play for years to come. Unique experiences like Test Drive Unlimited were welcome additions to my game library as well.
Then there’s the Need for Speed series. Oh EA, how you play with my emotions. See back in the day, Need for Speed had some of the best
racing games out. Hot Pursuit, and High Stakes were amazing games. This generation, the NFS series has been hit or miss; hits including, Undercover, Hot Pursuit, and Shift have been brought down by duds like Pro Street, Shift 2 and The Run.
Though some aren’t as good as others, racing games have come a long way. At least all those duds are playable in terms of turning, controls, and other gameplay elements with only their modes or overall focus bringing them down. In my younger days, finding a racing game that was actually playable, not to mention fun, was a lot harder.
However, those really stand-out racing games that get even the casual racing fans excited are hard to find anymore. Will the new Need for Speed: Most Wanted (aka Burnout Paradise 2) and Forza Horizon change all of this? Will Gran Turismo 5 and Forza 4 have to hold racing enthusiasts over until next generation?
Only time will tell.
At least this gen, there are a ton of great racers to go back to and with the classics like Mario Kart and Crash Team Racing to keep me happy, I’ll always have fun racing games to play, but when will that new truly amazing series come along?
Let us know in the comments what your favorite racing game/series is this gen.