In the space of a few months, fans of racing games were suddenly spoilt for choice over what to play. Would you relive the Formula One season with F1 2017? Perhaps heading to future motorsports with WipEout Omega Collection to revisit the classic series on modern hardware? A little more likely you were drawn in by at least one of the three major console sim racers to grace our gaming machines?
With a number of closely competing, and ultimately thematically very similar games, picking a winner has been an interesting challenge. Our top three are bound to be controversial.
Everybody loves going fast, and in Forza 7, developer Turn 10 have made going fast look unbelievably beautiful. The team are well known for wringing the best out of Microsoft’s consoles, and despite the Xbox One’s less than impressive oomph, they’ve continually turned in 60fps of racing goodness.
This year though, they’ve had a vastly improved palette to work with. Forza 7 looks fantastic on a standard Xbox One, but pop it into Microsoft’s brand new Xbox One X and the results are astounding. Boasting a 4K resolution, and HDR, few games will come close to looking as breathtaking as Forza 7 does, and once again it’s buoyed by a rock solid 60fps refresh rate.
That’s all on top of one of the most comprehensive racing experiences you’ll find today, from a series that’s just plain outworked its competition. From the lively Forza handling model, through the extensive career mode, to the dynamic weather which can alter the course of a race, it’s a fantastic and comprehensive package.
If you’re a fan of racing, you should be a fan of Forza.
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Gran Turismo Sport – Runner Up
Polyphony Digital’s long awaited debut on PlayStation 4 is a bold step into the future for the series. GT Sports’ raison d’etre is online competitive racing, with an innovative freeform qualifying system running behind its online matchmaking in addition to the more traditional set of lobbies for racing with friends and strangers.
Behind it all are physics and handling that just feel great. It might not be the most exacting simulation – I still wish Polyphony would recreate real world electronic assists for each car – but it feels great to drive and lets you push the car, which in turn leads to some great online racing when matched with similarly competent racers.
It’s also one of the few racing games that still genuinely tries to make you a better driver with a wide range of assists, from having cones to mark the braking point, turning points and apex of a corner, through to the license challenges that are a GT staple.
Despite its shortcomings, this is the most forward looking Gran Turismo in a long time, setting the foundations for Polyphony to build upon once more.
F1 2017 – Runner Up
After what felt like years of treading water, Codemasters have really come into their own in the last two years, both with their Formula One games and their revitalised Dirt rallying series. F1 2017 is the most refined of the bunch, going to great efforts to create a more engaging career mode, so you’re not simply bouncing through qualifying and race.
Building on the work of last year, you learn a track through the objectives in practice sessions that also help to advance your car in a sprawling RPG-like tech tree. That can wear thin after a while, but between races you’re now taken to invitational events that let you drive a wide range of classic cars in everything from sprint races through to pursuit challenges. The handling model shifts noticeably as you step into older cars, bringing unique challenges to whatever you drive.
Round that out with a solid suite of options for online racing, making this the best F1 game in years, and leaving Codies with the enviable task of having to better themselves in 2018.
Honourable mentions (in alphabetical order)
- Dirt 4
- Project Cars 2
- WipEout Omega Collection
There’s been a bunch of great racing games out this year. Do you agree with our assessment, or feel something else is more worthy? Let us know in the comments below!