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Best Car Games for The Ultimate Racing Thrill & Experience

By 

Certified Awkward Tech Guy™

Last Updated 05 Dec 2021


From perfecting your timing for smooth gear shifts to booting out the back-end for sublime drifts, we all love a good racing game. It's all about the game pulling you into the thick of the action as if you're in the driver's seat. If you're reading this article, you probably have a compulsive need for speed, and fortunately, so do we. Thus, we've put together the 10 best car games for PC and console for you to live out your wildest fantasies "behind the wheel".

What Makes a Good Racing Game?

Not all racing games are created equal. An unforgettable racing title is based on four key elements; a thrilling sense of speed, graphics that vividly bring out the car motion and build an enjoyable game world, close controls and excellent cruising music and sound effects. If a racing game blends these aspects harmoniously, it always delivers a great gaming experience. After all, the best racing games tend to feel right intuitively.

Now let's floor the pedal to the metal and look at the 10 best car games:

1. Forza Horizon 4

Forza Horizon 4
255 Reviews
Forza Horizon 4
  • 0889842392500
  • The Forza Horizon 4 Standard Edition includes: Forza Horizon 4 game disc
  • SEASONS CHANGE EVERYTHING
  • Britain Like You've Never Seen it. Discover lakes, valleys, castles, and...

The latest racing title from Playground Games has moved from the Aussie Outback to the British Isles. Forza Horizon 4 has you racing in a ten-hour campaign through the Scottish Highlands, cruise around the Lake District, and drive through picturesque British villages.

The landscapes change with the seasons, each one presenting a different set of challenges. Your driving has to adapt to each season, and you'll even feel your car react to subtle changes like icy roads in winter or wet leaves in autumn, making you more aware of the terrain. You'll have to master these subtle variations skillfully if you want to keep beating your best track times.

You can play the title in various modes; traditional races, co-op campaigns, seasonal championships, endurance tests and even stunt jumps. Moreover, there are several speedy and snazzy vehicles to choose from, from one-off hypercars to modified transit vans. You can even cruise through the British countryside in classic cars -and yes, in an iconic Aston Martin from the James Bond Car Pack.

2. Shift 2

17%
Shift 2: Unleashed - Playstation 3
268 Reviews
Shift 2: Unleashed - Playstation 3
  • Next Level of Immersion-Experience visceral first-person racing like never...
  • True Realistic Racing-From authentic car and crash physics to terrifying night...
  • Amazing Career Depth and Variety-Earn unlocks and participate in multiple racing...
  • Change the Game with Autolog-Autolog is a revolutionary system that connects...

Shift 2 arguably finds the ideal compromise between realism and accessibility in a racing title. The car handling manages to be menacing but capable, yet what stands out most is how the game can consistently accommodate what a player requires to perform at a high level. Instead of locking your view mostly gazing out over the hood, Shift 2 comes with a dynamic view that ever so subtly adapts to the current context.

As you come up to a tame left-hand corner, the view changes slightly as the driver avatar looks left into the apex. When it's a sharper corner, the view swings a little more to give you a better sense of where you're driving into, and it all feels natural. This level of thoughtfulness helps the game to deliver a seamless racing experience.

And it also extends to depth-of-field. This visual effect is normally overused in racing games, but Shift 2 manages to put it into realistic use, highlighting where you should focus your attention. For instance, when someone is coming up on your tail fast, objects that are further away get fuzzy while the mirrors focus to razor-sharp clarity. The game manages to simulate the real-life driving experience to a good deal, bringing performance driving to a whole new dimension.

3. Burnout Paradise Remastered

Burnout Paradise Remastered (PS4)
895 Reviews
Burnout Paradise Remastered (PS4)
  • Explore Paradise City with Friends: Burn rubber and shred metal across the open...
  • Blaze your path to glory in unique events, using your knowledge of the city to...
  • Wreck your friends online and collect their mugshots, or join forces to demolish...

Burnout Paradise is arguably one of Criterion's best games, and it only follows that Burnout Paradise Remastered would be even better. This new title comes with some appreciated graphics enhancements, which means PC players can now experience the formerly console-exclusive Big Surf Island. Paradise City's map is still as enjoyable as ever, and it doesn't matter if you're just coasting around or completing one of the several events available.

Just as the original has always surpassed its imitators, the game brings back the much purer and more exciting Burnout experience than in the games it inspired. This new version still doesn't have licensed cars, instead featuring car-archetypes that crush into heart-wrenching violent wrecks. The game is not all about unlocks and collectibles; you get to coast through a car city or listen to classic and pop tracks as you drive cruise the game's great landscapes. Burnout Paradise Remastered, just like the original, is wild, blindingly fast and perpetually entertaining.

Unfortunately, the game also retains a couple of the original game's pain points, like the annoying crash cam. But none are too grave to detract you from this game's exhilarating vehicle handling, expansive map and several unlockable. You get the original Burnout thrill from 2008, with 2021 graphics.

4. Need for Speed Heat

Need for Speed Heat [Online Game Code]
173 Reviews
Need for Speed Heat [Online Game Code]
  • Take chances, take victories; lay it on the line in the speed Hunter showdown by...
  • Be unruly, be expressive With even more options to customize your stable of cars...
  • Beat the heat you'll have to go out of your way to rile up the cops patrolling...

Need for Speed: Heat is an exciting racing game that builds on the successful elements of previous NFS entries. This game brings it all together, from solid racing physics & mechanics and thrilling cop chases to brilliant car customization options. Despite the arguably bland multiplayer mode and hazy controls, it's still a great option for NFS-Series fans.

It has a nifty day-and-night mechanic that allows you to take up to brighter, daytime racings scenes and high-stakes, underground racing during the night. It's worth mentioning that Palm City does indeed look great in either light setting, which gives the game excellent visual variety. The game is also more enjoyable than its predecessors, thanks to enhanced character customization and richer narrative.

5. Dirt Rally 2

34%
DiRT Rally 2.0 - Xbox One
301 Reviews
DiRT Rally 2.0 - Xbox One
  • Day One Edition includes the game + 3 DLC Cars (Porsche 911 RGT Rally Spec, Fiat...
  • The official game of the FIA World Rallycross Championship
  • Take the wheel through stunning environments of New Zealand, Argentina, Spain,...
  • Improved handling, surfaces, fallibility and environments deliver the most...

Dirt Rally 2 is targeted more towards "drivers" who know their pace notes for their driveshaft. In Dirt Rally 2.0, the co-driver launches the instructions, directions and numbers at you pretty thick and fast. So, if you can't handle the changing terrains and hairpin bends, then you'll be ramming into a tree before you even know it. But as you'll find out, Rally 2 is nothing close to the casual car racing games.

The game is unforgiving in its hardcore sensibilities- failure is quite common here, with even the slightest of errors punished severely. Heavy crashes can also get overwhelming to the senses, and it could even feel like an actual flashbang has exploded on the bonnet. Furthermore, if you get caught up behind the train, surface degradation makes driving in a straight line more challenging.

If you know what you're doing, Dirt Rally 2.0 is an exceptional racing game. But you'll have to make peace with the fact that you'll only learn from several failures. You'll need to commit all the twists and turns to memory. That said, once you embrace the game's single-minded vision, you'll have walked into a world of exhilarating and meticulously hand-crafted racing.

6. Assetto Corsa Competizione

Assetto Corsa Competizione - PlayStation 4
401 Reviews
Assetto Corsa Competizione - PlayStation 4
  • Assetto Corsa Competizione allows you to feel the real atmosphere of the GT3...
  • Compete against official drivers,teams, cars circuits reproduced in game with...
  • Sprint, Endurance, and Spa 24 Hours races come to life with an incredible level...
  • Pre-Order Bonus: Intercontinental GT Pack DLC - 4 new circuits & game modes, a...

This is a racing sim that'll appeal to diehard fans of the genre. The Competizione outdoes the original Assetto Corsa in virtually all departments -a bar which was already quite high. The game has come quite a long way since the Early Access woes. However, the 1.0 release eliminated several bugs, with only just a few remaining.

The game is a clear evolution from its predecessor, and this extends beyond the endurance racing license. The gameplay is impressively more polished and precise, delivering some of the best sim racing we've seen around. In addition, Assetto Corsa Competizione offers a better perspective into what the long-term satisfaction of single-player holds.

7. Project Cars 2

Project CARS 2 - PlayStation 4
270 Reviews
Project CARS 2 - PlayStation 4
  • Created by gamers and fine-tuned by pro drivers. Featuring class-leading...
  • Discover your ultimate driver journey and test your skills against the most...
  • Race without boundaries - Anytime, anywhere, with any car. Day or night, wet or...

If you've ever noticed, real cars rarely topple as soon as you mix steering and acceleration. In fact, real vehicles are quite well-engineered to go round corners. Slightly Mad, the studio, has certainly nailed this in Project Cars 2, where you spend more time having fun than looking for a restart button.

In this racing game, cars are a whole better at turning, even if you give the throttle a push. Of course, you can still make mistakes and traction is far from defined, but more importantly, you won't always be punished for such mistakes with an equally speedy trip to the closest barrier. As a result, you get a game that feels closer to a realistic driving experience.

Slightly Mad has also brought several other changes to this sequel, with a much broader car selection and a career mode that feels adaptable without compromising the freedom to choose. Perhaps the most outstanding update is the weather system, which calculates multiple factors about the physical properties of surfaces and materials, run-off and water pooling to deliver the more immersive wet weather driving experience we have seen in a racing game.

8. Race: Injection

Race Injection
63 Reviews
Race Injection
  • English, French, German, Spanish, Italian (Subtitles)

It's almost impossible to put together a list of the best driving games without mentioning a title from SimBin. As much as the studio might seem to be on the decline, Race: Injection remains one of the best car games on the market, combining the best bits from the GTR series and Race 07.

SimBin has superb physics, meaning its games can be considered somewhat challenging. However, race-modified sedans in the World Touring Car Cup can help you ease into the game's serious racing. This also presents an ideal opportunity to learn the game's tracks and physics.

The package is certainly broader, and you'll have muscle cars, open-wheel racers and endurance cars to choose from. All the cars are created quite brilliantly to offer unique driving challenges. Race: Injection is possibly the capstone car game for sim racing. It's worth noting the game is a bit long in the tooth and evidently built on old tech. However, you only need a few minutes into the game to fully take to it.

9. Driver: San Francisco

Driver San Francisco
280 Reviews
Driver San Francisco
  • The True Car Chase Experience : Rediscover the cinematic driving sensations of...
  • A Relentless Manhunt : Uncover a thrilling character-driven story line in which...
  • Shift : As Tanner recovers from a terrible crash, he realizes he has acquired a...
  • A Car Chase Playground : Drive on more than 200 square miles of road network,...

Some people argue that Driver: San Francisco is the digital embodiment of Steve McQueen. This title features among the best racing games thanks to its cars and influences from various eras, primarily approaching its elements with a 70's style. You'll definitely like over the roaring engines, squealing tires, American muscle, and the twisting roads and steep hills of San Fransisco.

Driver: SF is an undeniably novel concept in the genre. Instead of sticking to just one car, you can freely swap yours for any other on the road with the push of a button. In fact, you might not finish plenty of races with the same car you started with. And you'll also quickly learn to teleport in traffic in car chases. This is an original, bizarre and incessantly delightful driver game -and unfortunately, they truly don't make 'em like this anymore.

10. F1 2020

47%
F1 2020 Standard Edition - Xbox One Standard Edition
495 Reviews
F1 2020 Standard Edition - Xbox One Standard Edition
  • The official videogame of the 2020 Formula One world Championship
  • New my team mode - An immersive driving game, players can now create their own...
  • New - two new races: hanoi circuit and circuit zandvoort
  • New - split-screen racing

It would probably be remiss of us to walk you through the best racing games without reviewing the F1 decade-long series. So far, F1 2020 is arguably the most complete, most demanding, yet most engrossing game in the sequel. And you can understand why, particularly if you like or follow the sport in real life.

There are several useful tweaks brought to this installment, the driving is notably improved and there are also two new tracks. The biggest update is the option to begin career mode as either a driver or a team boss. This comes with a management sim that brings you closer to the inner workings of F1 with the thrill of an ultimate driving game.

Final Thoughts on the Best Racing Games

There's a field full of racing titles in the gaming scene; all developed to give you the ultimate driving experience. Better still, most of the best car games featured on this guide are available on both PC and console, meaning you can also try out different experiences across the platforms. Hopefully, this guide helps you pick out the right game to immerse you behind the wheel fully.

Happy driving!

About the author

Anton is the founder of 25pc. He is a huge gaming tech nerd and loves helping people save money. To find out more about him read his about me page.

Anton is the founder of 25pc. He is a huge gaming tech nerd and loves helping people save money. To find out more about him read his about me page.

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