eGamer Awards 2012: Best Racing Game
It hasn’t been the greatest of years for the racing genre, although it’s been one for quality over quantity. Still, we think it’s safe to say that we were satisfied with our share of racing games this year, but of course there has to be one we choose that stands above the rest of the competition, so let’s take a look at what this year had to offer us, and attempt to select the best racing game of 2012.
Think driving, but with solid content alongside the action. That’s effectively what we look for when we hand out this award. Whether the racing game in question aims for an arcade feel or a deeply realistic one, as long as the driving feels great and it’s packed with rich and diverse content and game modes, it can surely make the cut. The racing genre today generally needs to offer more than just fancy-looking cars in order to be a worthy and memorable, and often enough this is a difficult challenge. But in the end the racing games that have what it takes to go the extra mile – pun intended of course – to deliver the best racing experiences are ultimately the ones that will be nominated for this award.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted
Criterion returned Need for Speed to us, but not in the most conventional of ways. Most Wanted made its rebooted return, except now it looked more Burnout than Need for Speed, and we don’t think any of us were against the change, especially considering that it led to an excellent game. Offering an entertaining free-roam sandbox, lots of customisation, sexy cars, intense races and police chases, amazing visuals, insanely fun and addictive gameplay and an exceptional socially-orientated multiplayer component, Most Wanted was eager to establish itself as one of the best arcade racers around.
Wipeout 2048 was fast, beautiful and stuck true to what made the series to popular with its delivery of exhilarating and fantastically fun high-speed races. Even though it had a few flaws and some technical faults, it was a triumph for the PlayStation Vita, and the core experience on offer, that is incredibly fast-paced racing, great music and amazing graphics, was extremely strong. It was a classy game that was plenty of fun to play, and it kept us coming back for more. Its accomplishments, especially given its platform of choice, were commendable, and ensure that it deserves its spot.
F1 2012 continued the series’ fantastic streak of being the best Formula One simulator you can find. Its friendlier approach definitely made it more accessible to newcomers, but its great design ensured that it stayed appropriately challenging for experienced players. Admittedly, while the game did really cater well for newcomers, veterans of the series would possibly find that the improvements don’t add a whole lot more to the experience. However, the game definitely deserved credit for maturing the Formula One game series, and staying true to the excellent quality standard it set with previous entries.
Forza Horizon may have taken the series in a different direction, but the result was admirably a pretty great game for its first steps into open world racing. It was gorgeous visually, felt great to play and was highly entertaining, and to put it simply it’s probably one of the better arcade racing games on the market. Despite it bringing in a fresh tone and some arcade elements, Forza Horizon in no way dampened the series’ name, but rather expanded upon it as it took it to new territory and performed really well in it. It was fresh, and it was blissful fun, and that’s what kept it impressive.
It wasn’t Wipeout 2048, although it asked some challenging questions. It mostly came down to the fact that it had some notable flaws, and it could have been a bit better technically.
The winner wasn’t F1 2012 either, because while it does offer refinement and more accessibility to newcomers, it really isn’t much of a stretch forward for the series, and for the most part we’ve seen it before. That doesn’t take away from it being a great game, but our winner offered more.
And the winner wasn’t Forza Horizon, as much as we enjoyed it, and that’s because we felt previous Forza titles were better. It’s awesome, but it didn’t immerse us and keep us hooked as previous entries did, and perhaps this new direction still has ways to go to exploit the best out of its arcade approach.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted was simply the most entertaining and rewarding racer that we played this year. Criterion successfully crafted an ideal successor to Burnout Paradise in Need for Speed’s name, and if you’re a fan of their work then you’ll no doubt foam at the mouth over this latest installment, especially since it’s arguably their best effort. Fast, exhilarating, addictive and insanely fun, Most Wanted is a fantastic exhibition of arcade racing at its finest, and whatever flaws it may have, the incredible multiplayer more than makes up for it. It’s crazy, packed with personality and style, overflowing with great design and never compromises on fun and giving its players an amazing time. All of this makes Need for Speed: Most Wanted our choice for the best racing game of 2012.