Saturday, April 19, 2008

Top five racing games

Yay for another filler post! This time the top five racing games that I've played. No, not the top five ever released, top five that I've never played or even the top five that you liked. It is my top five that I've played and like. A celebratory post of sort, to a genre that introduced me to gaming and continues to excite me.

OutRun 2006 Coast 2 Coast (2006, PS2)
Developed by Sumo Digital
- OutRun series is unlike any other racing games considering it has its own proper definition of fun, fluidity and style. The updated OutRun 2006 Coast 2 Coast plays and still looks stunning despite running on last-gen hardware, and plays much like the original arcade game. Personally, and I am very serious here, I believe that this is the ultimate arcade style racing game. The PSP and PS2 versions can also share save files via USB link.up giving the player the chance to advance the game whether at home or away on one of the 15 Ferraris. As a bonus an arcade port of OutRun 2 SP is also included within the title, making OutRun 2006 an amazing value racing title for those still racing on the PS2, Xbox and PSP consoles.

WipEout Pulse (2007, PSP)
Developed by Sony Liverpool Studio
- Pulse was one of my first purchases when I finally got hold of a PSP. It serves as a reminder that the WipEout franchise is still relevant. The sequel to WipEout Pure, Pulse introduced the Grid system of unlocking stages, the ability to playback custom music as well as the reintroduction to the fantastic and engrossingly addictive Eliminator mode. Online play makes the whole thing even sweeter, however it does lack free downloadable tracks that Pure had. Even better for PS3 owners is that the upcoming PSN exclusive WipEout HD is based on the gameplay perfected in Pure and Pulse.

Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed (2000, PC)
Developed by EA Canada
- Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed on PC was the most beautiful racing game I have ever played on my second Dell Inspiron (with GeForce 2). Everything I knew of playing tons of NFS III: Hot Pursuit and High Stakes was thrown out the window. The physics were awfully realistic and the gameplay designed to mimic the unpredictable handling of difficult to handle rear engine Porches. At that moment, the sole spin-off NFS game was no longer an arcade racer, but a driving simulation. Visually it was a stunning game (back then) with 14 tracks of beautiful European locales such as the Alps and Normandy. This was the last Need for Speed game that was enjoyable and fun, before the series gone all crap.

Colin McRae Rally 2.0 (2001, PC)
Developed by Codemasters
- DiRT may be the latest and greatest Colin McRae Rally game, but 2.0 is best remembered as my first foray into the world of rally driving (semi) simulation. Much like Gran Turismo series, the gameplay is engineered to force the player to learn how to brake. Coming from someone who loved playing SEGA Rally 2 on his Dreamcast, the realistic handling, damage physics and braking took some getting used to. So while I still enjoyed SEGA Rally's arcady racing from time to time, 2.0 was a revelation in that the game was (then) the closest you could get into simulating a proper rally.

Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit (1998, PC)
Developed by EA Canada
- The first Need For Speed game I ever played was NFS II. It was a mixture of bland 3D graphics and good arcady fun. But it was NFS III that really brought the franchise into the limelight. The refocusing of police pursuits in Hot Pursuit gave the series plenty of reason to keep revisiting it. Spike strips and road blocks were introduced requiring the player to approach each racing differently. The graphics were also revamped giving my Direct3D enabled Dell Inspiron 7000 a chance to show off its impressive ATi power. It had none of the modding bullshit and faux-graffiti "kewlness" that blighted the franchise, it was all about racing.

Honourable mentions:

Daytona USA (1992, Arcade)
Developed by SEGA-AM2

F-Zero (1991, SNES)
Developed by Nintendo EAD

Gran Turismo 4 (2005, PS2)
Developed by Polyphony Digital

Grand Prix 4 by Geoff Crammond (2002, PC)
Developed by MicroProse

Mario Kart DS (2005, NDS)
Developed by Nintendo EAD

OutRun (1986, Arcade)
Developed by SEGA-AM2

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