Discussion: What Were The Best Driving Games Of This Decade?
We're coming up now faster than ever to the close of the decade, and I think it's now the best time to look back on all the best car games we've played since the turn of the decade and figure out which ones deserve a place in the hall of fame. In this piece I will go over a few of my personal favourites, before I turn it over to you in the comments to get a better idea of what everyone's favourites are.
First though a little overview. The 2000's were something of a renaissance for racing games, giving us some of the most memorable classics of the genre. We got Burnout Paradise, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Midnight Club: Los Angeles, the Project Gotham Racing series, Gran Turismo 4, and so much more besides. Given that a lot of us on this platform, myself included, grew up with these games, they hold a special place in all of our hearts. By contrast, this decade has seen the rise of online gaming (which in turn led to the demise of couch split-screen), vastly improved graphics thanks to next-gen tech, as well as a rise in popularity of pure-sim racers. With this in mind, let's take a look at some of my top picks for who did it best this decade.
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit
This is quite the opposite of a sim racer though, isn't it? Launched in 2010 by former Burnout developers Criterion Games, this saw the esteemed NFS series go back to its roots in high speed chases and high-end machinery that made the series a hit way back in the 1990's. While simple, the game was unarguably well executed, and looked stunning on top of that. With massive replayability and an excellent online multiplayer, this game delivered just enough nostalgia of the early NFS games while still remaining fresh.
Gran Turismo 6
Now nearly 7 years old, Gran Turismo 6 still remains to my knowledge the largest licensed car roster ever featured in a game (although there were many very similar cars). That was one of many signs of the depth of content available in this game, and one which Polyphony Digital has not come close to in their subsequent release, GT Sport. While perhaps not quite on the level of pure simulators that came later (e.g. Assetto Corsa or Project Cars 2), the driving physics were stellar, and in most cases the game looked excellent. Really though, the game's true USP was the amount of things to do, it was very difficult to get bored playing this game. Bored of racing GT cars? Try out the Goodwood hillclimb. Bored of drifting? Go to the moon and drive the moon buggy. This was a truly excellent send off to the PS3 and is worthy of its place among the greats.
Forza Horizon 4
Newly revealed for the game, the mighty 488 Pista
Yes, I know, the game only came out last year, but it has been several years, maybe even a decade, since I've put this much time into a game. Although I think this game's predecessor, Forza Horizon 3 had a more enjoyable map, this game has improved so drastically on so many other fronts that I can't possibly do any less than say this is the best driving game of the decade. On top of the depth of content, the immense car roster, the surprisingly good driving physics, the beautiful level of graphical detail, and the entertaining online portions, this game has had one of the best life cycles of any AAA title I've ever played. Much like they did with Horizon 3, Playground Games could've wrapped up support shortly after the season pass ran out, but every week there's new cars, free for everybody (so long as you have some spare time) on top of the monthly updates. The team behind this game has been so dedicated to constant improvements to the game that they even managed to convince the clowns at the Toyota licensing department to let them put their cars back in the game.
It's really happening
All these improvements, all these fulfilling of fans' requests on top of an already pretty amazing game must crown this game the king of the decade to me. The best part though, is that they're not even close to finishing support for this game, it's only up from here.
Although only released just under two months before the new decade, I can't ignore NFS: Heat. Ghost Games has finally hit the nail on the head with this game, and although it is quite unpolished, it is by far the best NFS game this developer has made, I might even say it's on par with 2010's Hot Pursuit as the best NFS game of the decade. However, as amazing and engrossing and fun this game is, it is yet to receive any major support from developers yet, so I am curious to see their direction post-launch before I can give this game its place in the history books. Other noteworthy titles include the other Forza 4, 2011's Motorsport 4, What with it's Fujimi Kaido and commentary from the Orangutan himself. Also worthy of an inclusion is the inexplicably underrated Blur of Bizarre Creations, and Eden Games' Test Drive Unlimited 2. I'd also be remiss not to mention sim favourites Assetto Corsa and Project Cars 2.
What Are Your Favourites? Please Comment Below
Now you've heard my nominees, I would really like to hear yours. Tell me in the comments what your favourites are, and once we've got a good list going, I'll put up a rank poll so we can determine once and for all the top racing games of the 2010's.