Top 10: Greatest driving games

The history of driving games goes back to 1974, when Atari released Gran Trak 10 and Taito released Speed Race – two very different takes on guiding a square through parallel lines.

The kids playing those first racers would never have predicted the genre today, which spans from frenzied weapons-based racing in fantastical fantasy locations, to painstaking, near photorealistic recreations of real world motorsport. And plenty besides. 

The following top 10 is our view of the best or most influential videogame racing series over the last 30 years or so. It’s by no means an exhaustive history of racing games, nor a reason to abuse us on social media for not mentioning Crash Team Racing or Road Rash II. You can if you want though. Enjoy…

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Burnout (2001) 

The beauty of the original Burnout was a gameplay mechanic that encouraged high-speed risk taking. Near misses and driving into oncoming traffic filled a boost meter, resulting in quicker times. The crashes were spectacular too, which became a sort of reward in itself.

Those qualities were augmented for subsequent sequels, which encouraged players to ‘take down’ other racers, while the crashes become even more histrionic. In fact, a separate crash mode was introduced in Burnout 2 that set up specific scenarios and rewarded points for creating maximum carnage by driving into traffic. A lot like bowls, but with a car instead of the ball, more cars instead of more balls, an HGV for the jack and explosions instead of nice cups of tea.