For almost as long as there have been video games, there have been games about driving fast. It's not hard to imagine why: Driving is one of humanity's most universal pleasures, and whether your preferred vehicle of choice is a tube-frame kart or an exotic supercar, there's a racing game out there you're sure to enjoy. Now, to commemorate the release of Burnout Paradise Remastered, we've put together a list of the best racers on the market today that have us revved up with excitement.
The benchmark for sim racing dating all the way back to the days of the original PlayStation, Gran Turismo finally arrived on Sony's latest hardware last fall in the form of GT Sport. While previous titles in the series adopted a car-PG approach, GT Sport is a more modern experience centered on competitive online multiplayer. That's not to say it's any less visually stunning or satisfying behind the wheel — Gran Turismo has long been a technological tour de force for Sony's hardware, and GT Sport carries on the brand's legacy for painstaking realism and attention to detail.
Criterion Games' 2008 combat racer must be pretty special to come back a decade later and earn a spot on our list. Burnout Paradise was a revelation when it released, and there's a very good reason why it's gone down as a cult classic: It's simply the most fun you can have on four (or two) wheels. Paradise took the formula perfected in Burnout 3: Takedown and expanded it to an open world teeming with spaces to discover, epic jumps to clear and collectible billboards to smash. It was a game you could fully enjoy alone and somehow came even more alive when you were running amok with friends in free roam. And its diverse soundtrack (which returns in full in Remastered) only enhanced the action. Seriously, what better driving music could there possibly be than Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend"?
Out of literally nowhere, rally games have made a stunning comeback. Between the likes of the WRC series, Gravel and the just-announced return of V-Rally, off-road fans will soon have more options than they've ever enjoyed at any point over the past decade. That said, Codemasters maintains the benchmark in the genre with Dirt 4. The career mode has been fleshed out from Dirt Rally, allowing players to run their very own team by hiring and firing crew, signing sponsors and designing liveries. And with the innovative Your Stage system, no two legs of a rally are exactly the same, which embodies the unpredictable nature of the sport. Perfectly tuned physics and a plethora of vehicles from Group B legends, as well as modern subcompacts and stadium trucks, complete the package.
In terms of scope, there's no other racing game that does what Microsoft continues to do with its Forza Motorsport series. With 700 cars, Forza 7 contains the largest roster of any racer of this generation. Add to that a laundry list of customization features, a redesigned career mode, and 32 tracks ranging from fictional fan favorites like Maple Valley to historic locales like Monza and Le Mans, and there simply isn't a bigger racing experience in the world right now. Did we mention it looks absolutely stunning in 4K on Xbox One X?
There's a reason Mario Kart 8 Deluxe set a record last year for the fastest-selling game in the franchise. The original Mario Kart 8 debuted on the Wii U, where it was hailed as an all-time great kart racer, although it found a very small audience on Nintendo's doomed last-gen console. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Switch carries over all of the earlier version's DLC and brings back Battle Mode, a mainstay of previous games in the series. Between its astonishing track design, buttery-smooth gameplay at 60 frames per second and 1080p (when docked) and the ultimate challenge of the F-Zero-fast 200cc mode, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the wildest thrill ride Nintendo has ever produced.
Developed by the same team that gave us Need for Speed: Shift, Project Cars 2 is a sim with a focus on real motorsports and a variety of disciplines, from open-wheel, to sports cars, to classic touring cars. With the widest selection of real-world circuits out there, a variable weather system that can actually simulate all of the game's tracks in different seasons, and a single-player campaign mode that follows the progression of an actual driver's career, Project Cars 2 is the racer of choice for those who dream of turning their passion into a full-time profession.
Credit: Bandai Namco Entertainment
If you pine for the days when The Crystal Method was considered the height of electronic music and in-game advertising was hip and cool rather than grating and obnoxious, the recently released PS4 remaster of the last two games in Sony's classic anti-gravity racing franchise is right up your alley. Wipeout Omega Collection combines Wipeout HD from the PS3 (along with the Fury expansion) and Wipeout 2048 from the PS Vita into one package, and caps it off with an updated soundtrack. While a truly new entry — or at least a remake of one of the more beloved PS1 installments — would obviously be better, Omega Collection is certainly preferable to no Wipeout at all.