Hitting the Virtual Road
We look at some top driving video games from past and present.
Web2Carz Senior Writer
Published: July 2nd, 2012
Driving games have been around since the dawn of video games, and have improved as computer graphics have become more realistic.
ometimes, driving in the virtual world is more fun than in the real world: no traffic jams, collisions don't lead to real-life bodily harm, and when virtual cops bust speeders, the fines are virtual, too.
Driving games have been around since the dawn of video games, and have improved as computer graphics have become more realistic. Many of us were playing driving games long before we got our learner's permit, and driving sims continue to be among the most popular video games. Here's a look at a few of today's top titles, and a few classics for nostalgia's sake.
Gran Turismo series: For realistic racing simulation, the Gran Turismo games are hard to beat. Not only that, but they offer a training mode, in which players can learn about some basics of car control and then test themselves to see how well they've mastered the skills. Factor in plenty of real-life cars and race tracks, and you have one of the standard setters for the genre.
Forza series: Forza has a lot in common with Gran Turismo, as it's also a realistic racing sim featuring real cars and tracks. Along with Gran Turismo, Forza is one of the best-sellers on the market.
Grand Theft Auto series: These games made (virtual) crime cool. While driving is just one aspect of the series, it's still an important one. The GTA games allow gamers to play out a first-person adventure that seems lifted from a Hollywood script while also allowing players to do naughty things that would end up in jail time in real life. It all adds up to a lot of fun, although there's no doubt the sex and violence in these games has caused controversy.
Mario Kart series: From Super Mario Kart to Mario Kart 64 to Mario Kart: Wii and beyond, this series has brought enjoyment to kids of all ages. Cartoonish kart-on-kart violence is much more socially acceptable than what Grand Theft Auto offers, and who hasn't daydreamed of using a red shell on rush-hour traffic?
Need For Speed series: This series combines serious driving sims with more-adventurous storylines than a typical racing sim. Some NFS games have been more well-received than others, but all have made a solid effort to appeal to gearheads. In fact, a Need For Speed movie is in the works for 2014.
F-Zero: Super Nintendo nerds will remember this futuristic racer fondly, mainly because it was a lot of fun. Too bad we still don't have hovering/flying cars.
Pole Position: This may be the one that started it all. It's rude, it's crude, and it's dated. But we don't care. We spent plenty of money playing this at the arcade, and we don't regret it.
Cruisin' series: The different variations of Cruisin' USA and Cruisin' World have faded from popularity, but at their apex, they gave arcade goers the chance to cruise different scenic locales at high speeds in a hot car, all while standing in an air-conditioned building close to home.
Daytona USA: This game was realistic enough to appeal to NASCAR fans but not as detailed as a true sim, and that helped it achieve mainstream popularity.
Spy Hunter: This quarter-sucking arcade game allowed us to live out our James Bond fantasies. And cost us a lot of our allowance money.
Burnout Series: Burnout may be the only series that rewards you for bad driving. You get bonus points for driving into oncoming traffic, taking out other drivers, and generally doing as much damage as possible. Add to that slow-motion replays of realistic-looking crashes, and you've got the best outlaw driving game ever.
We'd be remiss if we didn't mention smartphone apps, but there's almost too many to list. Android owners might like Need For Speed: Shift while iPhone users have games like Real Racing 2 on their list.