Best of Racing on this Generation of Consoles / PC
This list is opinionated based on which racing games I feel are the best of this generation. It includes Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC for the running.
Forza Motorsport 4 [Xbox 360]
This is byfar the game I've played the most on any system, with over 16,000 miles driven and countless wins I can say this game is loads of fun for the average car enthusiest.
The huge focal point for Forza is community which allows you to auction cars, post replays and pictures, sell / buy tuning setups, buy / sell liveries and race online with other players.
Graphically this and GT5 are both impressive with over 400 cars that can be damaged and have in-car view. While this game is lacking in night racing and some of the other leagues such as F1 and Rally, it makes up for it with its advanced tyre and car physics that sometimes put gran turismo to shame.
Car customization is taken a bit further here with engine swaps, body kits and drive-train swaps which GT5 does not include. This lets you customize your car any way you want, any time you want and take it online to show it off.
The Livery editor allows from 1,000 to 3,000 layers per side of the car to let you bring your inner artist out. And if you're worried, Turn 10 bans any players putting naked or obscene content as their shared paint jobs.
With over 27 tracks and countless layouts you can race for years without realizing you haven't done all the tracks.
This game goes for about $35.00 now adays and has tons of DLC cars.
Gran Turismo 5 [PS3]
Between this and Forza Motorsport 4 it's actually hard to decide which is the best. While this does include more cars, most of them non-premium cars and just different versions or year of the same car it still has over 400 Premium cars which is comparable to Forza 4's list.
Here is the track list which includes 28 tracks with countless variations. These include rally stages, cart racing and real / fictional tracks.
One of the things that sets this game apart from Forza 5 is it has weather, Formula 1, Nascar, Night Racing and better particle effects. However the physics are comparatively and generally accepted as less impressive than its main rivals.
Both games have a great tuning setup while Forza takes the pole when it comes to customization of cars. This game steps a bit farther in the tuning options by letting you change which compound of tyre is on the front compared to the back or add weight ballast to race in competitions your car might not meet the weight requirments.
My one complaint is online was bothing lacking and laggy when I was playing. The community was much smaller than Forzas which can be a bit disappointing.
Overall it's an amazing game that can be had for under $30.00 and the next is also coming to Playstation 3 soon. But don't fret a huge free DLC for this game came out a few years back that makes what's on disc not the whole package.
Project Cars [PC Beta]
If you got the chance to buy-in to the beta before it was closed for breaking trade rules then you are having one heck of a time with the most beautiful car game ever made. This Comminity Assisted Car Simulator has a lot going for it at release. It has some laser scanned tracks, however their Nurburgring is not.
As for a car list, Developers and Community alike have been adding to it and include cars such as McLaren, Pagain, F1, GT3, BMW and more. Co-op driving modes, Pit stops, Teams (online), and a Franchise mode promise to make this game a non-stop blast.
Here is the link to the site.
Forza Horizon [Xbox 360]
While it has a severely shortened list of cars when compared to Forza 4, this game has a great open world enviroment that grows on you. Playing alone can be boring but even get a single friend to join in on your adventures and it instantly goes from a 7 to a 9 on the scale.
With beautiful day night cycles, fast cars and a huge variety of terrain there's a lot of fun and awe to be had here. Brought over from Forza Motorsport is a simplified version of the upgrade system that lacks the tuning element making it easier to jump into and not be beaten by car fanatics. It can be had for usually under $30.00 USD at your nearest retailer new.
Project Gotham 4 [Xbox 360]
An oldy but still an amazing game. Physics wise it's arcade but the Kudos system and amount of tracks, open city enviroments, tag and weather conditions make for a great game to just relax and play.
This game includes in-car view, many hyper cars from pre 2008 days (no veyron in this one) and A GP + Nordeschlief version of the Ring. Not only that it's probably sub 10.00 USD at your nearest retailer.
Test Drive Unlimited 2 [Xbox 360, PS3, PC]
The reason I've put 2 instead of 1 here is because they have disabled the online portion of TDU1 and that was a major part of the games design.
With a massive world to free-roam in this MMO type racer allows you to cruise around or race your friends across 2 islands with over 100 vehicles to choose from. While graphically the game doesn't compare with the track racers it does a great job at distracting you by putting cars in your way at over 200 miles per hour. This game includes day-night cycles, motorbikes (DLC) and weather elements.
It's a great game to be had for under $20.00 on both Xbox 360, PS3, PC.
Burnout Paradise [Xbox 360, PS3, PC]
While I'd say this and Burnout Revenge were both great games, Revenged was just a PS2 port while this was the full on current gen experience. With beautiful scenery, a large dlc and plenty of cars and challenges to unlock you can't go wrong buying this game.
Massive wrecks at high speeds, bikes and f1 cars alike there isn't a game to compare to the wrecklessness of driving in burnout. Online is just as flushed out as single player with challenges galore, an 8 player free roam and endless hours of fun to be had for under $20.00 USD.
Sim Raceway [PC]
With this F2P game you are not forced to buy cars with real money but can if you decide it's taking to long to earn credits. The big drawback of this game is you are limited to what the Moderators / Dev Team post as possible races online. Offline (single player) you are allowed to race by your self on any track but you will not earn any credits.
Graphics here are lacking occassionaly and there are a few track bugs but the physics are fun and you are rewarded for racing clean rather than winning. And for you to race on are some laser scanned and fictional tracks as well.
I placed this one further down the list as it has a monthly fee and limited support for gamepads. However if you have a wheel this game has hands down the best physics and highest of competition. Due to its ranking system you must work your way up to the better racers amist the wrecking and greifers but once you make it, it's fantastic.
There are leagues and competitions in which you can race or even earn money if you are skilled enough.
Need for Speed Series [Xbox 360, PS3, PC]
There's not much to say for this series on this generation. If I had to rank the top 5 this generation it'd be...
1. Need for Speed Most Wanted (2005)
2. Need for Speed Shift
3. Need for Speed Hot Pursuit
4. Need for Speed Undercover
5. Need for Speed Shift 2
Quality has suffered tremendously compared to the Playstation 2 versions and will probably never recover.
If you're new to racing or this generation of consoles and don't want to spend much go ahead and try these games out. you won't be disappointed.