- TOCA Touring Cars (simosimo/YouTube)

Five great racing games that fell off the radar

We look at the games you'd forgotten you loved..

3y ago

As the usually-bombastic Jeremy Clarkson said during the famously sobering intro to Forza Motorsport 4, video games are the last bastion of automotive lust - a place where car fans of all ages are actually allowed to enjoy themselves.

Unsurprisingly, then, they have a cult following. By the end of 2015, the Gran Turismo franchise had sold more than 76 million copies, while the latest edition - Gran Turismo Sport - became Britain's most popular game in its launch week.

But some games haven't lived long in the memory. Many have rightly been left to rot quietly in a backwater of gaming history, while a handful don't really deserve to be gathering dust. We take a look at five of the best games that few people ever mention.

It isn't an exhaustive list, and there's a few bonus balls that might have made the cut at the end. If you agree with our forgotten gems or think something else should have got the nod, let us know in the comments...

Project Gotham Racing

Unlike so many modern racing games, Project Gotham Racing wasn't trying to be an ultra-realistic simulator. Instead, developer Bizarre Creations decided to mix real cities, real cars and incredible graphics with fun-filled sideways action.

And it worked. It wasn't quite the mindless accelerate-and-steer nonsense of children's racing games, but nor was it dependent on picking the perfect braking point a la Gran Turismo.

The Xbox-only title struggled on through four generations, making improvements in places but losing some of its sparkle in others.

Lego Racers

Everyone loves Lego, and everyone loves going fast. Put the two together and you've got a winning combination.

Admittedly, the basic formula was dead simple - it was kind of a Lego Mario Kart - but the immersive world of plastic building blocks added a new dimension to the gameplay. Being able to customise your car and driver made it that bit more relatable and charming than its contemporaries, while the power-ups were typical of the Danish toy company.

And for a kids' game, it wasn't very easy, either. Some levels were properly challenging, and losing concentration - and therefore momentum - for even a second could prove to be a catastrophic error.

Midtown Madness

Anyone who thinks it isn't fun to hurtle around one of the world's great cities, smashing stuff up and exploring in an average-ish car is just plain wrong. Unfortunately, though, it is quite illegal, so Microsoft invented the Midtown Madness series.

The first game was set in Chicago, and rather than offering drivers a few choice tracks to play with, it gave you the freedom of the city. There were races and missions here and there, but much of the game's appeal lay in aimlessly thrashing around.

It didn't have great graphics or accurate vehicle physics, but the looks were improved throughout the series, and Midtown Madness 3 upped the ante with two neat, if not especially realistic, cities - Washington, DC and Paris.

TOCA Touring Cars

The British Touring Car Championship is one of the most exciting race series out there, so its no surprise that the associated video game was one of the most racing titles of its era.

Sadly, it arrived too late to include the iconic Volvo 850 estates that used to compete, but there was still a host of realistic (for the time) cars and tracks. But whether you drove a Peugeot 406 at Thruxton or an Audi A4 at Donnington, you were in for a blast. Realistic damage was a new thing back then, but it was a vital part of touring cars - and TOCA managed it perfectly.

In 1998, there TOCA 2 came out. It had more polish than its predecessor, with improved graphics being a highlight, but it somehow lacked the magic of the original.

Rallisport Challenge 2

Rally games are hardly uncommon - Colin McRae Rally saw to their popularity - but Rallisport Challenge 2 was one of those that never really got the credit it deserved.

Okay, compared with the likes of Forza and friends it wasn't the most beautiful game, but by the standards of 2004, it wasn't bad at all. Certainly, it's good enough not to get in the way of the gameplay in the same way that, say, the PS1 Tomb Raider would.

And that's a good thing, because gameplay was Rallisport's real strength. Like Project Gotham, it wasn't exactly a sim, but it wasn't a Mario Kart world of power-ups. There was a really good balance of realism and fun.

Honourable mentions...

Grand Prix Legends (1998), Outrun (1986) and Test Drive Unlimited (2006)

Are these the greatest racing games that history forgot? Get in on the comments and let us know...

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Comments (21)

  • Toca Race Driver 3 (Aka V8 Supercars 3 for you Aussies or DTM Race Driver 3 for you Europeans) was probably one of the best all round racing games I've ever seen. Incredible variety, the physics and graphics have stood the test of time and it went places even Gran Turismo 4 feared to tread, like realistic damage for example..

      3 years ago
  • I really do miss Project Gotham Racing

      3 years ago
  • I used to love jamming Rallisport challenge 2 with my mates! There was a track in the desert somehwere where you could fall off the edge and watch the car tumbling to it's demise... We used to have competitions to see who could jump the farthest. Ah, those were the days...

      3 years ago
  • Burnout?

      3 years ago
  • Enthusia was a beast as well! It was so obscure ...

    I wonder why Konami left the project down!

      3 years ago