Sometimes there is nothing better than a bit of escapism into a virtual world where you are a professional driver whether that is on the F1 circuit or the Rainbow Road track of Mario Kart. Driving games are accessible to everyone and can inspire some fierce friendly competition. The best driving games are fun, entertaining, frustrating and addictive to the point where you just have to complete a race or could possibly rage quit in spectacular fashion when things don't go your way. Here is a list of our favourite driving games to play:
Developed by Polyphony Digital since 1997, Gran Turismo (GT) has been our driving game companion for nearly 20 years! The latest game in the series, Gran Turismo Sport, is due to be released on Playstation 4 in 2017.
The original Gran Turismo featured a number of real life cars that were able to race on 11 different tracks as you competed against artificially intelligent drivers to earn different levels of driver's licenses. When GT2 was released there were even more cars and tracks to choose from.
GT3: A-spec moved the game series on drastically with better graphics and a new rallying mode. The developers really focused on our ability to modify and tune our cars so that they could perform better, or sometimes worse, depending on the alterations made. GT4 improved graphics and physics again while also adding in Driving Missions to be completed and B-Spec mode that put us in the place of a racing crew chief.
With the advance of online gaming since the original Gran Turismo, GT5 introduced an online multiplayer mode so that up to 16 people could play at once. Polyphony Digital also added a Damage mode and paid particularly close attention to the sound of each car. The latest version, GT6, introduced new circuits and even a feature where players are able to drive with the Lunar Rover on the moon.
Taking inspiration from a famous quote from the movie Top Gun, The Need for Speed was released in 1994 by Electronic Arts (EA). To date, Need for Speed is the most successful video game series in the world and has even been made into a film itself!
Almost any Need for Speed game will give you the same principles that you control a race car with the goal of entering and winning races which can be completed in tournament/career mode or multiplayer mode.
One of the most iconic game releases in this series was Need for Speed Undergound 2 which expanded on the shift from semi-professional racing to street racing that was introduced by its predecessor. What Underground 2 brought was a new Underground Racing League, more tuning options and a new method of selecting races.
Need for Speed has moved with the development of technology and even released a game built specially for iOS and Android called Need For Speed: No Limits. The latest console game release came in 2015 titled Need for Speed which gave the franchise a full reboot with a Standard and Deluxe Edition available.
Forza is Xbox's answer to Gran Turismo and is divided into two different series: Forza Motorsport and Forza Horizon. There are currently six Forza Motorsport games and three Forza Horizon games.
Forza Motorsport provides players with the opportunity to choose between a range of cars from a Honda Civic to the Enzo Ferrari with each car's performance calculated in real time using physical data to mimic the handling characteristics of their real counterparts.
For the release of Forza Motorsport 4, game producers Turn 10 Studios partnered with Top Gear to get Jeremy Clarkson to do voice overs for descriptions, race titles and the new Autovista mode. Forza Motorsport 5 also included commentary from Richard Hammond and James May alongside Clarkson.
In 2012, the series was divided in two with the release of Forza Horizon. This spin-off game centres around the fictitious Horizon Festival set in Colorado. To progress through the game you have to drive fast, destroy property and win races among other racing antics to collect "Wristbands".
Forza Horizon 3 was released in June 2016 and is set in Australia with the player in the position as the host of the Horizon Festival.
Formula 1 is undoubtedly the biggest motorsport in the UK and we all secretly think that driving a Formula 1 car is easy, but boy are we wrong if this game is anything like real life! The game we're talking about here is the Codemasters series that started from the 2009 Formula 1 season.
Just like football has EA Sports' Fifa series of games, Codemasters F1 is the definitive season simulation game with all of the rights to the Formula 1 images, tracks, driver profiles and team profiles.
You can play an as existing driver or you can create your very own professional F1 driver as you work your way up the ranks and through the different teams trying to compete for poll position. The simulation is as real and grueling as you want to make it with practice sessions, qualifying and the actual race.
During each race you will have your dedicated pit crew checking the status of your car while you are fully immersed in the driving. The latest edition, F1 2016 allows players to enter into a career mode with ten full seasons as opposed to the five that was previously allowed with twenty one circuits from the 2016 season.
Developed by Italian company Kunos Simulazioni, Assetto Corsa is the new kid on the block trying to upstage Forza and Gran Turismo. Literally translated from Italian, Assetto Corsa means racing setup and the game provides one of the most realistic racing experiences in the realm of driving games.
Assetto Corsa is not for everyone because of the challenging and punishing career mode that you have to endure. In all honesty, this game is built for the true racing aficionados who will appreciate the unbelievable simulation of grip, weight and momentum that allow it to surpass its rivals.
Thanks to the official cooperation of car manufacturers, the Assetto Corsa lineup has been reproduced with the highest levels of accuracy and even includes tyre flat spots, heat cycles and active movable aerodynamic parts.
Gameplay is quite varied depending on what you want to do and what level you are prepared to modify and tune your car to. Like any good driving game, Assetto Corsa provides a career mode as well as different race features including quick races, race weekends, drag race mode and drift challenges.
Nintendo's flagship character, Super Mario, was introduced into the driving game world in 1992 with Super Mario Kart and the Japanese company have never looked back (unless they were throwing a banana skin or turtle shell).
During gameplay players compete in three-lap go-kart races as one of the characters from the Super Mario franchise with up to twelve characters competing in each race. During the race all players can pick up various power-up items ranging from speed boosts, lightning strikes to shrink opponents and different 'Koopa Shells' with varying levels of accuracy to strike other players.
Mario Kart has been released across all Nintendo's platforms including N64, DS and Wii making gameplay different on each device. What remains the same however is the familiarity of the characters and courses.
At the start of the game, only a handful of racers and courses will be available until you unlock them by entering into racing tournaments and achieving certain places in the races and star ratings for your driving. With each new game that is released, new characters, karts and courses are released. Mario Kart Wii even introduced motorbikes to make driving that little bit more interesting and varied.
Technically, this is not a racing game, but it is still a driving game. If you've ever seen and enjoyed watching football played with cars then you will absolutely love Rocket League!
The scene is a massive arena with various power boosts scattered around it. You are driving a car with other cars on your team and you are facing off against another team in an epic battle of car football. The aim of the game is to put the oversized ball into the opposition's net more times than the other team can put the ball in yours in a timed game.
If you thought dribbling a football was hard with your feet, wait until you try doing it in a car! Once you've set up a match with another team you are instantly thrust into the heat of battle as each team starts off near their goal with the ball placed in the middle of the arena. When the whistle goes each team charges forward at full throttle to be the first to get a bumper to the ball and the game begins.
It takes a little bit of adjustment to get used to in terms of accuracy and timing your jumps, but when you get it right and plant the ball in the net to score your first goal, it is a truly magical feeling that you just want to keep replicating.