From high profile releases like Forza Horizon 3, the resurgence of rally games with DiRT Rally and the start of the console sim racing saturation with the long-awaited arrival of Assetto Corsa, 2016 was a transformative year for racing games. To celebrate, we’re hosting our first ever Team VVV Racing Game of the Year Awards (something we’ve been meaning to do for years) to recognise achievements in racing gaming, from best graphics and sound, to car lists, handling and indie titles, we’ve got everything covered.
Best vehicle selection
People often rate racing games based on the number of cars it has – but it’s the quality where it counts. Gran Turismo 6 may still hold the record for the largest number of cars in a racing game, but there are some glaring omissions, and it’s obvious the developer added some near-identical car models to pad out the numbers. Thankfully, there was no shortage of diversity in the racing games of 2016.
One game that stood out for its unique car roster was Milestone’s criminally underrated Sebastien Loeb Rally EVO. A love letter to rallying through the ages, the rally simulation features over 50 rally cars spanning several decades, from Sebastien Loeb’s record-setting Peugeot 208 Pikes Peak, to vintage machines such as the iconic Lancia Stratos, Renault 5 Maxi Turbo and Toyota Celica GT4. And of course, no rally car roster would be complete without a some of the monsters from the notorious Group B era. Despite featuring more classic rally cars than DiRT Rally, Sebastien Loeb Rally EVO doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.
Assetto Corsa may lack the quantity of cars offered in its big budget rivals, but it makes up for it in quality. Every car is a dream to drive thanks to the excellent physics. Admittedly, however, the vehicle selection is rather limited due to the small team. It has a distinctly Italian flavour, with Ferraris and Fiats dominating the car list. Oddly, there are more Lotuses in Assetto Corsa than any other manufacturer, but there's still enough exotica that will appeal to car enthusiasts, including the ferocious Ferrari FXXK (a racecar variant of the LaFerrari) and McLaren P1, not to mention a vast selection of Porsches with additional DLC.
Bike fans also weren’t left out. Ride 2 features by far the best bike selection in any game, even settting a new world record for the most bikes in a game, with over 190 spread over 18 manufacturers including Ducati, Triumph and Kawasaki, to name a few. That number is set to increase to well over 200 with regular DLC packs planned for the next few months, too. Our only criticism with Ride 2’s roster was that it could do with more vintage bikes.
Winner: Forza Horizon 3
With a comprehensive collection of over 350 cars (and that's excluding all the DLC), nothing can compete with the endless range and variety of vehicles in Forza Horizon 3. Forza Horizon 3 features an eclectic selection of just about every car class you can think of, from exotic supercars, and luxury grand tourers, to off-roaders.
Forza Horizon 3 lets you drive the very latest supercars, from the Lamborghini Centanrio cover car star, to the mighty McLaren P1, Ferrari 488 GTB and, more recently, the BMW i8 hybrid – it’s a testament to the relationship Microsoft has developed with car manufacturers over the years that the car selection is so up to date. Best of all, every car is fully customisable and viewable in Forza Horizon 3’s Autovista, which allows you to view the exquisite models up-close, open up panels and learn trivia.
The developer’s passion for cars is abundantly evident throughout the Forza franchise. You often see cars make their racing game debut in Forza games, and Forza Horizon 3 is no exception: we never thought we would drive a licensed Reliant Regal three-wheeler in a racing game. It’s this element of surprise that has kept hooked on the franchise over hte years years. Forza Horizon 3’s car list continues to expand too, thanks to quality DLC packs continually adding new and interesting cars to keep us playing for months and years to come.
Do you agree with our winner? Let us know in the comments below.