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Best Racing Games Ever

Gran Turismo 4
Credit: Polyphony

These are our picks for the five best racing games ever. Racing video games have been around for almost 50 years now, with the first being Gran Trak 10 in 1974.

Since then, both arcade and simulation games have taken the world by storm and are one of the most popular genres of video game out there.

We love racing games and you can check out our sister site if you want to read more about them.

Best racing games ever

Racing video games have been around for almost half a century now, so there are a lot to choose from. There are literally thousands, but there are a few dozen series that spring to mind when you think of racing games.

F1 2020
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Credit: Codemasters

Any racing game that has the primary aim of driving a car as fast as possible to beat the opposition is eligible here. Games where racing is a secondary or side mission aren't eligible, so you won't see Grand Theft Auto 5 here.

We'll also be limiting the entries to one per series, as there is one racing simulator series that could have two or perhaps three out of the top five otherwise.

#5 - Daytona USA

We're starting with an arcade classic that all Millennials have played at some point in their lives. While the graphics may look primitive by today's standards, you need to remember that this game is almost thirty years old now.

The goal is simple: survive. You race around the Daytona International Speedway in Florida, USA with the sole aim of making the next time extension gate before your clock runs out.

Daytona USA
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Credit: AL82 Retrogaming Longplays on YouTube

This is quite basic, but you have to experience how fun and addictive the gameplay is to understand how good Daytona USA was.

There's obviously still a lot of demand for Daytona USA, as the game's sequel, Daytona USA 2, will receive a home port this year. If you go into arcades, even today, you can still find this machine and that screams volumes about how iconic Daytona USA is.

There is a case to be made that this is the best arcade racer of all-time, but there is one entry further into this list that we think tops it, but only just.

#4 - iRacing

The great iRacing v rFactor 2 debate is something that will rage forever amongst the sim racing community. We're going for iRacing though, as it is the more accessible of the two giants of sim racing.

iRacing may not be as detailed as rFactor 2, but it is more than good enough for the vast majority of racing gamers.

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Credit: Motorsport Simulations

iRacing is fun using everything from a controller pad up to a high-tech top-end sim racing rig. What stops iRacing being even higher on our list though, is that it's not as cheap, nor as accessible as our top three.

Still though, iRacing continues to receive major updates, which have kept it as one of the highest quality of racing sims on the market. 15 years after its release, that's incredibly impressive.

#3 - Grand Prix Legends

Another 1990s classic makes our list, but this time, it's arguably the most realistic racing sim of all-time. Grand Prix Legends is 25 years old now, but continues to receive updates from its unmatched modding community.

This game focuses on the 1967 Formula 1 season, but thanks to mods, you can experience any season from the 1950s to the 1970s. F1 in the 1960s was brutal, with little to no run-off and cars that were as tough as tin cans and that's perfectly encapsulated in GPL.

Grand Prix Legends
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Credit: GPLaps on YouTube

Like iRacing, though, the level of difficulty of this game can put more casual gamers off. But if you stick with GPL and get the hang of it, there aren't many games that match up.

#2 - Burnout 3: Takedown

This is hands down the best arcade racer of all-time and something we don't think will ever be topped. The gameplay of Burnout 3: Takedown is the most frantic, action-packed and exciting that we've ever seen.

Burnout 3: Takedown
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Credit: Shirrako on YouTube

Burnout 3 also introduced the "Takedown" gameplay mechanic to the series, as it was now possible for you to crash opponents out of the race. You had to be careful though, as the AI could do the same to you.

Burnout 3 was also one of the first racing games to have online multiplayer, something that would become a staple in the next console generation. Burnout 3 was truly ahead of its time and is still exciting to play 20 years on.

#1 - Gran Turismo 4

Be honest, before clicking on this article, you probably knew Gran Turismo was going to make this list. The only question was which one, and we think that Gran Turismo 4 is the peak of the Real Driving Simulator.

Polyphony created the modern racing simulator when Gran Turismo launched in 1997 and this was revolutionary. Gran Turismo 2, expanded GT1's promise and Gran Turismo 3 brought GT into the PS2 era on a high.

Gran Turismo 4
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Credit: Polyphony

However, we think that Gran Turismo 4 is the best of the lot and while Gran Turismo 7 was a step in the right direction, it doesn't come close to GT4. GT4 had a then series-high of over 700 cars and 51 circuits, which was unheard of during the PS2 generation.

At the time, the graphics, physics, AI and overall presentation were unmatched. GT4 was a fantastic racing game that still holds up today and we think it's the closest to perfection that any racing game has ever achieved.

For more articles like this, take a look at our Other games page.