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 indie racing game
2016 was a strong year for indie racing titles and an excellent showcase of talent. There was a recurring theme: these developers had the creative freedom to revive several lost genres that mainstream publishers no longer touch, from old-school top-down racers like Mantis Burn Racing and futuristic racers like RedOut, to water racing games like Riptide Renegade GP.
Mantis Burn Racing is one of the more polished indie racing games of 2016. A throwback to old-school top-down racers, it’s arguably the best-looking indie racer released in a long time, and even has the honour of being the only game to run at native 4K resolution on PS4 Pro. It plays just as good as it looks too, thanks to its responsive, tail-happy handling, and its extensive career mode will keep you playing for a long time.
Riptide GP: Renegade is reminiscent of retro arcade water racing games like Jet Moto and Hydra Thunder, and is one of our top picks if you’re looking for a fun arcade racing title to dip into (pun fully intended) for quick sessions. Granted, the graphics look dated, but Riptide GP: Renegade makes up for this with its creative environments, fast-paced racing and surprisingly challenging gameplay.
Drifting is usually restricted to side modes in racing games. Not so in Absolute Drift: Zen Edition, a game where you spend most of your time driving sideways. Combined with its minimalist art style, the deceptively deep driving physics that take serious skill to master made it one of the most challenging and addictive racing games of the year.
Futuristic racer RedOut keeps reappearing in our honourable mentions, and for good reason: it looks and plays like a spiritual successor to WipEout.
Racing games don’t get more unique than Drive!Drive!Drive!, a game where you drive on three tracks simultaneously. It’s a crazy concept that shouldn’t work, but trust us, it does. Its stylish visuals and synth soundtrack only make it more memorable.
Winner: Table Top Racing: World Tour
With Table Top Racing: World Tour, Playrise Digital perfected the tried and tested miniature racing game formula. Building on the success of the acclaimed mobile franchise, TTR: World Tour marks the series’ debut on consoles with updated graphics, cars, tracks and power-ups.
Everything in TTR: World Tour is diligently designed: the intricately detailed cars look eerily close to their real-world counterparts without resulting in lawsuits (we love so (and fully upgradeable) me of the tongue-in-cheek-car names: “Fauxrari”, anyone?), and the tracks are terrifically designed, with a variety of locations including a fully modelled YO! Sushi restaurant for the first time in a racing game.
It’s the hidden layers of depth where TTR: World Tour really excels, though. The physics underpinning the tight controls are deceptively deep, requiring skill to master. This isn’t a game where you can get away with hammering the throttle: you have to account for understeer and oversteer, so you need to know when to slow down and apply the accelerator accordingly to succeed. Take the time to learn the tracks, and you’ll also discover a wealth of hidden shortcuts. TTR: World Tour is a fantastically fun miniature racer that gives Micro Machines a run for its money.