It's fair to say we were absolutely spoiled with racing games in 2017, in what was a landmark year for the genre. In the space of just one month, we witnessed three contenders from major franchises jostle for position in a spectacular race to the finish line. After a long four year wait, Gran Turismo made its belated debut on PS4 with the release of the online eSports-focused Gran Turismo Sport, but it faced stiff competition from its Xbox rival franchise. Forza Motorsport 7 boasted the most comprehensive car selection of any racing game released this generation, as well as crisp 4K graphics and a new, more engrossing career mode.
Taking on these two racing game goliaths was Slightly Mad Studios’ racing simulation Project CARS 2. As the least established IP, Project CARS 2 was the ambitious underdog with huge potential, promising to be most authentic racing simulation ever made with a diverse variety of racing disciplines, an innovative dynamic weather system, and an unrivalled track selection. Annual licensed games such as MXGP 3, MotoGP 17, WRC 7, and F1 2017 also all saw significant improvements that elevated them above typical incremental updates, while futuristic racing fans were treated to the long-awaited comeback of the WipEout series with the release of WipEout: Omega Collection.
You can view the full list of nominations for the Team VVV Racing Game of the Year Awards 2018 here.
DLC is a sore subject for some gamers, but love it or hate it, racing games are an ideal platform for add-ons such as new cars, tracks and game modes. This award recognises DLC that provided the most innovative and best value content that expanded the game beyond the original release.
DiRT Rally VR
DiRT Rally’s surprise VR update is easily one of the most intense, immersive, and feature-packed VR experiences available on the PSVR. Experiencing DiRT Rally in VR made one of the most intense rally games of this generation even more pulse pounding. Unlike DriveClub VR, which had to make some noticeable cutbacks to get the game running smoothly such as removing weather effects and downgrading the visuals, DiRT Rally VR featured every car, track and discipline included in the original game and still featured weather effects, which was an impressive feat. Crucially, DiRT Rally VR also runs very smoothly, thus reducing the risk of motion sickness. Unfortunately, however, DiRT Rally’s sublime simulation physics were simplified in the VR update, which ultimately let the update down as the original game’s physics perfectly captured the intensity of rallying.
Project CARS 2 Fun Pack
Rallycross was one of the most fun and intense new disciplines in Project CARS 2, and the Fun Pack expanded it even further. Like the car selection in the main game, the new cars featured in the Project CARS 2 Fun Pack are well curated featuring some of the most iconic 1980s Group B rallycross cars of all time, including Matthias Ekstrom’s championship-winning Audi S1 EKS RX quattro, along with the legendary Ford RS200 Evolution and Renault R5 Maxi Turbo, plus two historic rallycross circuits that enthusiasts relished. It’s a reminder that Project CARS 2’s rallycross content is more substantial than DiRT 4, which, ironically, is billed as the official rallycross game.
Assetto Corsa Ferrari 70th Anniversary Pack
Developer Kunos Simultaneous certainly knows its audience, as Assetto Corsa’s vehicle roster appeals to hardcore car enthusiasts. A case in point is the Ferrari 70th Anniversary Pack released last year. A fitting tribute to Ferrari’s legacy featuring seven legendary cars, the 70th Anniversary Pack showcases the evolution of the company from the breathtakingly beautiful 1963 250 GTO, to the current 812 Superfast, which made its racing game debut. It’s also an effective showcase of Ferrari’s technical advances, as driving the 250 GTO is extremely challenging compared to the modern 812 Superfast. Assetto Corsa’s 70th Anniversary Pack is a treat for Ferrari fanatics, and one of the most well-curated car packs released for any racing game.
Redout Back to Earth Pack
There’s no shortage of visually-dazzling and exhilarating tracks in 34BigThings’ futuristic racer Redout, so it was a surprise to see the release of the Back to Earth Pack. The pack includes two apocalyptic environments, with Sequoia set in the forest ruins of Canada and Rotorua set in a deserted rocky region of New Zealand. With five new tracks and an additional boss track in each environment, plus 25 career events, liveries, and ship colours, the Back to Earth added more value to an already feature-packed game.
Winner: Forza Horizon 3 Hot Wheels
Monthly car packs are a staple of Forza Motorsport and have become increasingly stale and predictable, but Forza Horizon’s expansions add new and memorable experiences to the game. The fun-packed Forza Horizon 3 Hot Wheels expansion was no exception, and instantly won us over within minutes of entering the new environment. Set on a separate island, the expansion is essentially the humongous Hot Wheels track of your childhood fantasies replete with mechanical dinosaurs, with an emphasis on stunts. Like an addictive rollercoaster ride, frequent high banked turns, massive jumps and dizzying loops provide hours of fun – it couldn’t have complemented the series’ upbeat, light-hearted tone more perfectly.
The creativity Playground Games poured into the Hot Wheels expansion is commendable and the vibrant visuals still look stunning, with jaw-dropping draw distances and detailed environments that push the Xbox One hardware to the limit. Ten new vehicles were also added including some of the most famous Hot Wheels cars, along with new events that added longevity to an already expansive game. Forza Horizon 3’s Hot Wheels expansion was a pleasant surprise, and easily one of the most addictive, innovative and imaginative racing game DLC releases in years.
Do you agree with our winner? Let us know in the comments below. Check back soon for more Team VVV Awards 2018 coverage on the website and YouTube channel throughout March.