eGamer Awards 2013: Best Racing Game
Over the course of recent years, the racing genre has begun to slow down a bit. While never in need of a pit stop, it’s quite clear that the times are twisting and turning and the entries coming into our view over the horizon are getting few and far between… and we’ve officially run out of racing puns. While quantity has certainly taken a nosedive, it’s not to say that we don’t have quality, with this year delivering some of the most beautiful and entertaining experiences we have ever had the pleasure of playing, and in a racing title no less. Join us as we take a look at the past year in racing, and pick our best racing game of 2013.
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Think driving, but with solid content alongside the action. That’s effectively what we look for when we hand out this award. Whether the racing game in question aims for an arcade feel or a deeply realistic one, as long as the driving feels great and it’s packed with rich and diverse content and game modes, it can surely make the cut. The racing genre today generally needs to offer more than just fancy-looking cars in order to be a worthy and memorable, and often enough this is a difficult challenge. But in the end the racing games that have what it takes to go the extra mile – pun intended of course – to deliver the best racing experiences are ultimately the ones that will be nominated for this award.
Need for Speed: Rivals
Another year, another Need For Speed title, right? With Rivals, Ghost Games worked together with Criterion to develop something new and exciting using old and familiar concepts on a brand new engine. Frostbite 3 is the bee’s knees and the result is one of the most beautiful games that we have ever seen. It doesn’t just stop there, either, with an array of supercars on offer as well as some super-powered hot pursuit cars, allowing you to play ‘cops versus racers’ on either side of the battle in a massive open world. You can even opt to take your racing online or keep it strictly offline. At the end of the day, the choice of how to enjoy this new arcade racer is ultimately yours. But one thing is for certain: Rivals are guaranteed.
Continuing the trend of annual releasing titles is that of F1 2013, a fresh entry into the long-running series of Formula 1 titles that brings an updated roster of racers and tracks together with all the recent changes to vehicle specifications and restrictions. This time around there are even alternative modes including a Challenge Mode with various scenarios for you to race through, and a Classic Mode, which tells the story adequately enough, yes? Add in a host of handling options that take the racing from arcade-as-you-like to simulation-like-you-cannot-fathom and you’ve got the makings of yet another great F1 racing title.
Codemasters Racing have finally released the game-changing racing sequel to their smash-hit Race Driver: GRiD, from way back in 2008. And GRiD 2 is every bit as great as its billing, offering up a massive selection of cars from various racing disciplines across the world and even daring to do what few games these days do, by offering splitscreen racing. GRiD 2 offered a solid career mode with some enjoyable variety, and succeeded in giving you, the player, the rewarding feeling that comes with knowing that it’s you who is winning all of those races and people are actually taking notice of it. GRiD 2 was a racer that you played to feel like a racer.
Gran Turismo 6
Before we say anything else, this game is absolutely stunning or at least the cars are. They’re exquisitely detailed things even if the track and environment around them may as well be cardboard cutouts. Gran Turismo 6 offers a true simulator experience with hundreds of cars, each one handling slightly differently to the next. It’s almost imperceptible with cars that are very similar but the difference is there. Above and beyond this there is a very deep and extensive customisation system which allows you to finetune each car with minute precision. What it lacks in soul, it makes up for in being a respectable simulator for purists to drool over.
It wasn’t F1 2013, because it failed to really innovate or give us something that we hadn’t already seen before, plus we could just as well have played last year’s game and got the same experience out of it.
The winner wasn’t Need for Speed: Rivals either, because visuals can only get you so far and the rest of the experience must come from the way the game feels, which was unfortunately where Rivals started to fall apart, with bland and uninspiring gameplay and a career mode that while empowering in the choices it presented, was effectively just a bunch of checklists for you to sort through.
And the winner wasn’t Gran Turismo 6, because reasons. Accept it. No? Okay, well the game functions well as a simulator but has a damage system that would make bumper cars burst out laughing and is an utterly dull, soulless affair.
Do you know what the most important thing about a racing game is? It’s fun factor. Sure you’d enjoy a great selection of cars and tracks and maybe a half-decent career mode to race through (we said we’d stop… we lied) but at its heart, a racing game needs to make you the player, feel like a racer. It needs to be a celebration of racing that makes you want to love cars. The way it does this is by making racing fun and enjoyable, and not a chore or, to perpetuate a rhyme, a bore. GRiD 2 is exactly this type of game. It makes you feel like a racer, and it immerses you in the experience so much that you start to love cars, even if you don’t really love cars, and you start to love racing, even if you’re really actually quite useless as a driver in real life. GRiD 2 does these things because it knows that the most important component of a good racer is not the visuals or the cars or the tracks — although it has all of these factors nailed perfectly too — but rather the empowering of the player. The racer. GRiD 2 makes you feel like a badass. It makes you feel cool. It makes you feel as if you could do anything with that controller in your hands, within the confines of the game. And it does all this without so much as breaking a… sweat. What, did you think we’d say engine, or something? This is why GRiD 2 is our best racing game of 2013.