A great Logitech steering wheel, a good set of pedals, a 19 inch monitor and a comfy chair are all the accessories that go along with a great driving game for the PC. Good speakers and adequate lighting give it the realism and the sound of the crowd is the icing on the cake - but to have all that you’ll first need to buy a good racing game.
For that reason I have compiled a list of the top five racing games released over the past few years for the PC.
Need for Speed: The Series (4 out of 5)
Strictly speaking, this is multiple games each one as good as the next in some regards, better in others. There are loads of Need for Speeds for the PC available such as Porsche Unleashed where every car is a Porsche with incredible handling, and my personal favorite Need for Speed: Underground. The driving in these games is good but it’s the storyline and the customizable car unlocks that keep you in the hot seat. The NFS crew also have an online based version that will be free, coming out in late 2009.
Live for Speed (4 out of 5)
Live for Speed made the list purely because of the community and the atmosphere of the game. You download it free (although getting more extensive features require purchase) and can play offline by yourself. This is good for a bit of practice and setting up your car but the real fun is online. Racing is a whole lot better when there are real people playing against you. Furthermore, the graphics and features in this game are excellent with realistic pit-stops and tight ‘pack racing’.
Test Drive Unlimited (4 out of 5)
Now this is a game where you literally live racing. You start off by buying a house and a car. After that, you cruise the island (modeled on a real Hawaiian island) looking for real players to race and gain cash from. This game is primarily online and features some great cars like the GT40 and the classic AC Cobra. There is nothing quite like cruising around while really looking for a race- not just proceeding to a marker on the map. It can be found here
GTR2 (5 out of 5)
This is on intense racing game but one of the best. Those above which haven’t quite made the cut to number two are good for a bit of relaxation and gentle wheel turning. Here we have a game that will make you sweat, scream and swear all in the one lap. When playing this I would often find I was more enveloped in the racing world than when playing the other games. The choice of cars and tracks are simply the cherry on top.
Colin MacRae: DIRT (5 out of 5)
We’ve reached the top of our list and sitting there proudly is Dirt, with the late rally driver’s name guaranteeing its quality. However, unlike previous MacRae games this isn’t just WRC. There is truck racing, go carts, motocross and national level rally. You start off with pretty lame cars like the Clio but man do they go around corners. The damage and driving experience as you slide along the edge of a ditch, barely squeeze through a gate or spin wildly before the sound of shattering glass and crunching metal putting the ticking of the clock into the fore will amaze you. The amount of unlockables and achievements drive you forward (excuse the pun). If you’re into driving in a bit of dirt then this is the game for you.
So that’s it. Now all you have to do is pop in the disc, turn off the cell phone and start your engines!