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  • Author Alex Ingram
  • Published July 1, 2014

The best racing games ever

With the British Formula 1 Grand Prix just around the corner, Rising Stars contestant Alex Ingram has been inspired to dig out his old games and take to the virtual track

Open wheeled single-seater race car in a corner with limited depth of field

With the British Formula 1 Grand Prix just around the corner, Rising Stars contestant Alex Ingram has been inspired to dig out his old games and take to the virtual track.

 

This weekend the 2014 British Grand Prix will be broadcast to our TV screens – and rejoice! A Brit has a genuine chance of winning!

 

Driving an actual F1 car in an actual grand prix is beyond most of us, but with the help of a games console and an active imagination you can still pretend you’re Lewis Hamilton. Albeit on a sofa. And a bit more skint.

 

Here are our favourite racing games of all time… plus a bit of advice if you fancy taking them a little further – into the real world.

 

So you think you’re a racing driver?

Let’s be honest, a console game is as close as most of us will ever get to lining up on the front row of the British Grand Prix ourselves. F1 2013 (available on multiple platforms) is the official game of Formula 1. Complete with all the official circuits and drivers of last year’s championship (along with a few classic F1 cars), there is no better way to channel your inner Sebastian Vettel and finger point your way to victory. Smugness is optional.

 

Do it for real: karting… Anybody who’s anybody in the world of motorsport started off racing karts. Offering simple but fantastic fun, they offer the perfect starting point for budding racers to the learn car-control and race-craft skills that are vital in top-level racing. Though I’m sorry to say that if you’re old enough to read this, you’ve probably left it too late to reach F1: Lewis Hamilton started racing karts aged eight. Fernando Alonso was three…

 

Bumper cars: meet motorsport

If the world of Formula 1 is just too glamorous for you, then perhaps touring cars may be more your bag. TOCA 2 Touring Cars (1998, PC, PlayStation) is still one of the single greatest racing games ever made. It was based on the 1998 season of the British Touring Car Championship: a time where the BTCC had more salaried drivers than Formula 1, and the top teams had multi-million pound budgets. For 1998, TOCA 2 looked pretty (even when the cars inevitably got smashed up), the cars handled brilliantly, and your opponents behaved with a vengeful authenticity that few games have been able to match since.

 

Do it for real: track days… Nearly all of the circuits included in TOCA 2 are based on real UK tracks. If you have a fancy motor in your garage, then you could always try giving it a blast around Silverstone, Brands Hatch, or wherever you prefer. If potentially breaking your pride and joy doesn’t sound that enticing, nearly all of these venues offer ‘driving experience’ events, with an opportunity to be unleashed in one of the latest supercars, or even a single-seat race car.

 

Where you headin’ today then, darlin’?

Certainly a game which shuns realism in favour of huge bags of fun, Crazy Taxi (1999, SEGA Dreamcast) was originally an arcade game that SEGA realised had huge potential for the home market. It quickly established itself as a fantastically pick-up and play game. The plot was simple: scream around a city picking up customers against the clock, screeching to each destination at breakneck speed to the excellent in-game soundtrack. Crazy Taxi has a simple pleasure that few other games can match.

 

Do it for real: um, become a cabbie?… Unfortunately you won’t have a large green arrow in the sky guiding you to your destination, and if you want to ply your trade in London, you’ll need to pass The Knowledge: a notoriously difficult exam that requires that you know, by heart, how to get to anywhere, from anywhere in the capital. If you succeed – after an average of 34 months’ studying – scaring fares witless and jumping over other cars is optional, and also somewhat frowned upon.

 

Keep it real… really, really real

If you’d like a little more realism from your driving sims, Gran Turismo (1998-Present, PlayStation 1,2,3) might be more your thing. From tiny Japanese kei cars to Le Mans prototypes and Formula 1 cars, GT has always recreated them in stunning detail and with real-world driving characteristics. The games have all had the same simple formula: buy a cheap econo-box and give it a tune-up. Win races to earn prize money. Use prize money to buy faster cars. Continue until your garage is full of lots of exotic machinery, plus that beige Honda Jazz you started off with, gathering dust at the back.

 

Do it for real: GT Academy… The makers have Gran Turismo offer potentially one of the most exciting and game-changing ways into motorsport in recent years. Thanks to the GT Academy programme, Gran Turismo has given top gamers the chance to compete for a real racing drive. Former winner Lucas Ordóñez has scored two class podiums at the gruelling Le Mans 24 Hour race, and Britain’s Jann Mardenborough now races in GP3 – an F1 feeder series – for the Arden International team, owned by Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner.

 

If that wasn’t enough, the Gran Turismo franchise has also recently announced collaboration with the FIA, world motorsport’s governing body, which, among other things, will involve official Gran Turismo gaming championships.

 

If you’d like to try your hand at motorsport, there’s a fantastic online resource in GoMotorsport.net. You’ll find it full of advice on how to get involved at any level, whether you’re looking for a nice weekend hobby or want to compete at the highest level.

 

Alex Ingram is one of our new Rising Stars writers. You can read the rest of his stuff here >>>

 

For more information on LG’s range of ULTRA HD 4K and OLED televisions – as well as the new Smart TV with webOS interface – click here >>>

 

There’s a great year of British Sport on the BBC – including great coverage of the British Grand Prix from Silverstone. Alongside extensive broadcast coverage the BBC Sport Connected TV app for the LG Smart platform will offer a host of exclusive features and content…

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