Driving and racing games now are incredibly sophisticated and bring together a community of millions of gamers worldwide.
Since the first rudimentary driving game, Gran Trak 10, was launched in the mid ‘70s, racing games and driving simulations have come a long way. Here are nine games which left their mark on gaming history.
Gran Trak 10: Atari, 1974
The first driving game was a pretty basic plan-view race around a simple track. This early attempt may have been primitive, but it has set the blueprint for things to come. Notably, the arcade featured an actual steering wheel, which is the definitive driving game controller today.
Turbo: Sega, 1981
Turbo was the next big leap forward for racing games. It was the first to feature the 3rd person perspective behind the car, which is now the norm. It also had a steering wheel, gearstick and accelerator pedal not only for the arcade, but also the home console versions.
Pole Position: Namco, 1982
Another blueprint for countless games to come, Pole Position was the first game that recreated a real racing circuit. It was also the first to feature a time trial, where you had to qualify in a certain time to compete in the Grand Prix.
Outrun: Sega, 1986
If you have ever played Outrun, you will remember the buzz it created in arcades. You got to tear around in a Ferrari, there was a full moving unit, and the soundtrack was immense. It was an immersive experience and was widely converted for home computers.
Indianapolis 500: Electronic Arts, 1989
This was the first game on home computers which could be said to be a true racing simulation – now known as sim racing. It attempted to emulate real physics, and the way you customised your car had a realistic effect on its handling and performance. This game marked the fork in the road between sim racing games and arcade-style racers.
Sim racing games are now immensely popular. Unlike arcade-style racing games, they favour realism over pure speed.
Need for Speed: Electronic Arts, 1994
There are now over 25 games in the Need for Speed game series, and the franchise has racked up in excess of 150 million sales. But the original Need for Speed game was renowned for its realism. You could hare around in a selection of sports cars, do donuts, and watch your wipe-outs back in replay mode. It also featured audio and video commentary, as well as police pursuits.
Gran Turismo: Sony, 1997
After five years in development, Gran Turismo was released for Playstation, and it’s fair to say it was big. It was realistic, a lot of fun, but above all featured a huge amount of customisation. You could earn credits to buy new cars, and tweak to your heart’s content. Gran Turismo would go on to be the second biggest franchise of all time, even spawning a televised academy which has produced professional racers.
Forza Motorsport: Turn 10 Studios, 2005
Another big step forward for game physics, Forza Motorsport set out to challenge the number one game in this field, Gran Turismo. The second release ended up being bundled with the Xbox 360, meaning it was available to millions of gamers. The cars were customisable, and you could race online - meaning you could show off not only your skills, but your epic creations to envious peers around the world.
Project CARS: Slightly Mad Studios, 2015
Although there are many benchmark releases in sim racing games, Project CARS is difficult to beat in terms of its graphics and realistic physics. Drivers have to account for real-world variables such as car handle, fuel usage, suspension, and potential damage to the car.
Plus, it’s just so much fun. The huge online community means there are thousands of races in progress at any one time.
If driving games tickle your fancy, these nine classics are sure to give you many hours of heart racing fun.