If the only thing you love more than video games is cars, then this article is not for you. There are plenty of fantastic racing games for those who enjoy the genre. From the Forza Motorsport series, to the Horizon series, to the Gran Turismo series. Each of these franchises produce games that have a keen attention for detail, recreating the tiniest nuances of the drivable vehicles, with customization options galore.
But what if you don’t like cars? What if driving is just a way to get from point A to point B? You don’t know your exhaust pipe from your brake pads, or what the difference is between a V6 and a V8. If so you’re in good company. I’ve compiled a list of 5 great modern racing games, for people who don’t like racing games.
Need for Speed: Payback
Now just because you don’t understand how to modify your in-game car, because you’re not a car fanatic, doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy racing down a highway. Need for Speed: Payback copped a lot of criticisms at the tail end of 2017. However as someone who is for the most part uninterested in driving games, it piqued my attention. Payback is the closest we’ve come in recent years to a video game adaptation of the Fast and Furious movies. The story, characters and dialogue are all tacky, in a dumb heist/ action movie way. Which works for this type of game. The gameplay is surprisingly diverse. You’ll race out in the desert, drift through the city streets and destroy cop cars in high speed heists. It’s also a far more accessible game for those less knowledgeable about cars. To upgrade your vehicle, you are awarded stat boost cards after winning each race. So it was always easy for me to understand that a level 11 acceleration card is better than my current level 8 version.
Jak X: Combat Racing
Who says racing has to be clean? Adding in machine guns, heat seeking missiles and landmines is always a good idea in my opinion. Jak X: Combat Racing came out during the PlayStation 2 era, however it recently re-released on PSN for PlayStation 4. It didn’t get the shiny HD coat of paint the original Jak trilogy got on PS3, but it is still a blast to play. Sure racing and knowing when to drift around corners is crucial, but utilizing weapons and defenses is also just as important. Plus Jak X actually has a pretty good story mode, which introduces new and old faces. That’s something that most racing games don’t have. Maybe I’m a little biased, since in an article about game of the year decision making I discussed how I thought each of the original Jak games were game of the year contenders, but I still urge PlayStation owners to try this one out.
Race the Sun
Not all racing games need to involve cars. Race the sun involves you piloting a solar powered space craft, dodging obstacles and other ships at incredibly high speeds. The term endless runner has been a common derogatory term for mobile games. However Race the Suns simple premise works incredibly well. The game ends either when you crash or when the sun sets. The simplistic yet elegant visuals and twitch reaction gameplay lead to a game that is equally tense and relaxing.
If not all racing games need cars, then do they even need racing? Rocket League technically isn’t a racing game, but it is the most fun I’ve ever had driving in a video game. Using high speed vehicles to knock an over-sized soccer ball into a goal, is a modern take on one of the oldest and most well-loved games in the world. It’s an incredibly accessible game for beginners, but also takes a lot of devotion and attention to master. Plus where else can Back to the Future’s DeLorean and Halo’s Warthog go head to head.
Mario Kart 8: Deluxe
The final game on this list is an obvious choice for anyone who has even heard of video games. Mario Kart 8 takes some of gaming’s greatest icons and pits them against each other in one of the most universally loved racing games of all time. It’s great for kids, but is adored by adults. It’s just a shame that it was released for a dying console, the Wii U. But now that it’s on Switch you have no excuse. I urge anyone who has never played a Mario Kart game before, it doesn’t matter if you have no nostalgia for Mario and Link or you think Splatoon is the sound you make when you sneeze, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is utter perfection. It’s hard to explain what makes this game so great, but the split second finishes, amazing track design and anger inducing red shells make this arguably the best game on Switch. Period.