A racer's game


Photo: James Bearne Photography

5 racing games all speed freaks have to play

South African motoring journalist Ashley Oldfield had a long history of playing racing games before he stepped up to GT Academy and racing for real at Silverstone circuit in England. Here is his top 5 racing games of all time. 


Excitebike was probably the first game I ever played. I used to spend school holidays at a friend’s house clocking up the hours on his Nintendo. Creating my own tracks was awesome: I’d spend ages building a track, then racing it and perfecting every jump until the game would freeze and the TV screen would go fuzzy. At which point, I’d pull out the cartridge, blow on it for a while and then start all over again.


Grand Prix 2 or GP2 was the PC game that forced my dad to upgrade the family’s 486 PC. Based on the 1994 Formula 1 season, GP2 felt like the real thing – I didn’t know anything about physics and car handling, but GP2 felt like driving a live F1 car. There were so many options for car set-up and gadgets to play with, I was overwhelmed. This was also the first game I got to play with a game steering wheel.


The original Colin McRae Rally is still for me the most addictive rally game ever made. The damage engine was pretty decent and the service zones meant that over the course of a rally you could repair only certain bits of your car, bodywork always being the least important. Winning a stage with no bonnet, doors or bumpers was somehow more satisfying.


This was a game made by a bunch of private developers who wanted a simulator racing game that could mimic reality as closely as possible. It was, and still is, brilliant. The graphics might not be as pretty to look at, but the endless set-up options and the cars’ realistic behaviour meant it was the first ‘super real’ racing game I played. The multi-player aspect of this game got me hooked as I could race against the best racing gamers in the world. I even found a couple of local circuit racers honing their skills here.

GRAN TURISMO 5 (Playstation 3)

Hooked up to my Logitech G27 wheel, the endless lists of licences, challenges, online races and events kept me from many a university book. When it came down to GT Academy, it was all about the hours I put in, working out the game’s handling nuances to eke out tenths of a second here and there to build the perfect lap. GT5 kept me coming back for more, sometimes out of pure frustration, but that didn’t stop me from going out and getting the sequel, which turns out to be the same stuff all over again, only more addictive.

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10 2014 The Red Bulletin

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