The lights are on
The last generation of home consoles introduced a number of important steps for racing titles, from deep online play to breathtaking visuals, propelling the genre forward in the past 10 or so years. Here's our list of the best racers the last generation had to offer.
Note: This list encompasses titles on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii. PC and handheld titles were not considered.
Racing with motion controls isn't usually a good time, but Monster Games' second Wii racing title, Excitebots, excelled at using the controller to its advantage. You raced and performed tricks to earn stars, and the environments were littered with ways to collect them, such as attacking opponents, getting air, or even doing things like kicking a football through the uprights. The game also had online and offline multiplayer as well as a clutch of minigames. It's usually hard to divide players' focus between racing and other on-track gameplay like performing tricks, but Excitebots merged the two with a healthy dose of fun.(Read our full review)
9. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
This game improved upon its kart racing predecessor by adding different vehicle types you can transform into (cars, boats, and planes), which opened up the Sega-themed tracks and expanded upon the normal kart formula. Genre variety is also added through a rider upgrade system and a mission path that lets you pick your way forward. Kart racing may be a racing sub-genre, but that doesn't mean you have to always conform to the mold.(Read our full review)
8. Dirt 3
Codemasters' Dirt series is an all-terrain offshoot of the Grid series, and for two iterations it didn't rise above this simple conceit. The third entry, however, introduced Gymkhana – showboating driving events that focus more on your ability to crunch the e-brake and drift the car into tight confines more than taking a corner perfectly. Combine this with a focus on Rally racing (the series' ancestor was Colin McCrae racing, after all), and Dirt 3 revealed an exciting focus for the series' future.(Read our full review)
Grid came out in 2008 and was an all-encompassing racer that was good at offering a little bit of everything. Featuring different racing series, a handling model that was neither too casual nor too sim, and a career progression featuring sponsorship objectives and teammates, Grid showed that there was more to being a professional racer than sims like Gran Turismo or having to trade in street racing cliches like Need for Speed. The game also introduced Flashbacks, which are now a staple of the racing genre.
6. Burnout Revenge
Before Criterion became known for creating open worlds filled with racing opportunities, it destroyed a lot of cars. Burnout Revenge's World Tour mode blended spark-filled high-speed races of twisted metal with classic intersection set-pieces staged for creating maximum damage. Whether ramming oncoming traffic into rivals or scoring a Revenge Takedown, the game created a whole new kind of aggressive driving. Burnout Revenge originally came out on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox, but the Xbox 360 version featured 10 more Crash sites, improved graphics, and added online features such as the ability to share clips.(Look up our review in the review archive)
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