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.
Best Indie Game
While publishers often rely on big budget titles to generate sales and are reluctant to take risks, indie developers have a lot more creative freedom, resulting in some truly innovative racing games that deserve more recognition. Here’s our pick of the indie racers that captivated our imaginations in 2017.
Virtual reality racing games have been in short supply since the launch of the PlayStation VR headset, so Tiny Trax was a very welcome addition to the PSVR library. Developed by FuturLab, Tiny Trax was a novel take on the racing genre incorporating an overhead slot car viewpoint, which utilised the VR technology to great effect by enhancing the sense of depth. Its difficulty level wasn’t for the faint-hearted, but there was a lot of fun to be had once you mastered the drift-focused controls, and the track designs were wonderfully creative. Put the time in to master the mechanics, and Tiny Trax proves to be a rewarding virtual reality racer.
Baja Edge of Control HD
Baja Edge of Control didn’t gain a lot of traction in its original release on PS3 and Xbox 360, as performance issues severely hampered the off-road racer. Luckily, these issues were rectified in the new HD remaster, but we were hoping for more substantial visual improvements. That said, Baja Edge of Control HD offers a unique off-road racing experience, with challenging terrain and gruelling endurance races that can take hours to complete.
Urban Trial Freestyle 2
The Trials bike game series is renowned for being chronically addictive, but recent games haven’t quite lived up to the standard set by Trials Evolution, which remains the pinnacle of the series. Released exclusively for the 3DS, Urban Trial Freestyle 2 applied a similar formula, with simple pick-up-and-play gameplay that works well on a handheld. The limited power of the 3DS meant that the visuals were inevitably dated, but Urban Trial Freestyle 2’s responsive controls and imaginative level design more than made up for it.
Mantis Burn Racing
Mantis Burn Racing successfully revitalised the old-school top-down racing for the current console generation. This once-popular genre was pioneered by Micro Machines, yet Mantis Burn Racing’s comprehensive career mode and satisfying, tail-happy handling put last year’s Micro Machines World Series to shame. The Switch version of Mantis Burn Racing brought the game to an even wider audience while packing all previously released DLC and was very well-suited to the portable platform. If only the game had more than three environments.
Winner: Redout Lightspeed Edition
After a successful Steam release, Redout Lightspeed Edition launched on the PS4 and Xbox One consoles bundling previously released DLC but had the misfortune of being released on PS4 just a few weeks after WipeOut: Omega Collection. Competing against the return of an established IP in the anti-gravity racing genre with a bigger marketing budget was never going to be easy, but Redout outshines WipEout Omega Collection in many ways, particularly in the physics department. The Italian developer’s post-release support has been exemplary too, with recent updates adding new track textures and 4K support for Xbox One X. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of playing this fantastic futuristic racer, make it your next priority.
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.