I love games. I mainly play shooters and racing games — although anything in between is welcomed if it’s charming, funny, or straight-up addictive. Anyway, I’ve played a few racers over the years and here are some of my highlights.
[Old] Need for Speed
Honestly, the newer NFS games made by Criterion don’t excite me much. I bought 2010’s Hot Pursuit and was fairly disappointed by the gameplay, although I understand this years Most Wanted is better (fair is fair though: Black Box’s game last year was pretty bad, too.) But in the past Need for Speed was a great series. I remember the original Hot Pursuit – excellent – and Hot Pursuit 2 – also excellent. I own the original Most Wanted, Carbon and Undercover, and they’re all excellent open world driving games (Prostreet and Shift from the same period… Eh, not so hot) which is what NFS should be. Yes, the car physics are wholly unrealistic, and yes, the games are often marred with awkward pseudo-storylines and characters, but who cares if it’s fun?
Don’t buy Prostreet, Shift, Shift 2, “Shift 2 Unleashed”, “Shift 2 Again” or even “Shift 2 Game 3”, find Most Wanted for 360 (oldest available for current gen AFAIK), or go even older.
I actually only started playing this recently, making me extremely late to the party, but it’s a good fun game. The off-road rallying is extremely challenging and requires concentration by the bucket full, while the circuit driving is a little more leisurely. Cars handle nicely, good drifting can happen.
Like I say, I haven’t gotten far in to this one yet, but definetly pick up one of the three or four DiRT titles if you wanna. I’m sure Codemasters’ll thank ya.
Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights
This one is harder to explain. It’s practically an arcade racer – the car physics are extreme and at times, hilarious, but that’s exactly why I think this is probably my favorite racer. Staying utterly sideways for five laps of a racetrack is satisfying. I spent an unheard of amount of time playing this game to absolute completion, and I never wanted to be doing anything else. It was created by the now-defunct Juice Games, who as I understand it formed and created the original Juiced game from the ashes of a cancelled project, Lamborghini (a demo is available if you have a modified Xbox, neat game), they’d been creating at their former studio.
Now, when you first pop that disc in your console the menus might scare you a bit… I find the first few pages of menus odd and disjointed, but stumbling in to the single player almost makes it worse: The main menu’s backdrop is a strip club with dancing girls, bling and… cars… in the middle of the room. Really, laugh at it for a while, then actually start playing – I guarantee you forget that stupid menu.
A brilliant little arcade racer with Mario Kart style weapons and power ups littered along the courses. As I understand it this game hasn’t done so well, but I think it’s absolutely excellent. Unfortunatly, with the studio now gone (with their early work for a sequel, too) we’re stuck with the meager selection of race tracks in this first game, and that’s really the only weakness, a lack of options.
Need a game to play when friends are round? This has the bonus of being one of the few modern titles which supports 4-player split screen, so you can all race! Get it straight away, it’s great.