The PlayStation has a rich history of racing games. We rejoiced when the PS5 was announced with PS4 backwards compatibility as we could keep playing Gran Turismo Sport until Gran Turismo 7 arrives.
Thanks to the extra horsepower of the PS5, games like Project CARS 2 and Assetto Corsa also benefit from improved graphics and smoother framerates. But what about PlayStation 3 racing games?
From Gran Turismo 6 to ModNation Racers, there are many brilliant PS3 racing games begging to be replayed. But because the hardware is notoriously difficult to emulate, you can't play PS3 games on PS4 or PS5. As a result, you can only play them on original hardware – but hopefully not for much longer.
Suspiciously, Video Games Chronicle has spotted several PS3 games on the PS5 store including Dead or Alive 5. Usually, PS3 game listings on PS5 direct you to PS Now.
Intriguingly, however, each game is listed with a price. This could be an error as a similar glitch happened on PS4, but has sparked speculation that PS3 games could be backwards compatible on PS5 soon.
A patent filed by PS5 system architect Mark Cerny for “backward compatibility through the use of spoof clock and fine grain frequency control” is also fueling these rumours. With this in mind, these are the PS3 racing games we want to play on PS5. As well as PS3 exclusives, we're including multi-platform titles you can't play on PS4 or PS5.
Gran Turismo 6
Releasing towards the end of the PS3’s lifecycle in 2013 just one month after the PS4 went on sale, Gran Turismo 6 was largely overlooked. With just over five million units sold, GT6 is the lowest selling mainline game in the series.
GT6 may not look as graphically gorgeous as Gran Turismo 7 on PS5, but it has an insane amount of content. With over 1,200 cars compared to GT7’s 420+, GT6 has the largest car roster of any GT game.
There was no shortage of variety either, with unique special events like the Goodwood Festival of Speed that let you tackle the famous Hillclimb circuit, a Lunar Exploration mission on the moon, and an Ayrton Senna Tribute. GT6 deserves another chance to shine, and a PS5 re-release could give it a new lease of life.
MotorStorm Pacific Rift
Before DriveClub, Evolution Studios developed MotorStorm. A launch title released in 2007, the first MotorStorm was one of the most graphically impressive games on PS3 with realistic mud effects and spectacular crashes showering the screen with debris.
Improving on the formula, 2008’s MotorStorm: Pacific Rift was arguably the best game in the series. While the first game featured desert canyons, MotorStorm moved the action to a tropical island, with madcap races on beaches, jungles, and active volcanoes. A new mechanic where driving through water cooled down your boost also added a layer of strategy.
What made MotorStorm special was its mixed-class racing with a variety of vehicles from bikes to big rigs and rally cars. Pacific Rift added monster trucks to the mix. Rumours also suggest former MotorStorm director Matt Southern is leading development of a new Twisted Metal PS5 game.
Mario Kart is the king of kart racing and continues to defy sales expectations. But back in 2010, Sony attempted to jump on the kart racing bandwagon with its own exclusive IP: ModNation Racers.
Unlike Mario Kart, ModNation Racers featured a story mode with quirky characters. What also made ModNation Racers stand out was its focus on customisation. Building on LittleBigPlanet’s “Play, Create, Share” concept, you could create your own character, kart, and track and share your creations online.
Aside from the 2012 Road Trip spin-off on PS Vita, ModNation Racers wasn’t popular enough to justify a sequel and developer United Front Games shut shop in 2016.
Kart racing games are enjoying a resurgence this year with Choco GP on Nintendo Switch and the free-to-play KartRider: Drift on PS4, so it’s a great time for ModNation Racers to make a comeback on PS5.
F1 Race Stars
While we’re still talking about goofy kart racers, F1 Race Stars is another PS3 racing game we want to play on PS5. Codemasters’ forgotten F1 Race Stars released back in 2012 and we’ve been clamouring for a sequel ever since.
Compared to the authentic annual F1 games, Race Stars threw realism out the window. This was a light-hearted take on the license with cartoony big-headed versions of drivers like Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, and Mark Webber, crazy powerups, and fantasy versions of iconic racetracks featuring jumps, shortcuts, and loop-the-loops.
Formula 1 is more popular than ever, and F1 Stars could introduce younger players into the world of F1 if it becomes available on PS5.
Released back in 2010, Blur was one of the most unique racing games of its time. Combining licensed cars and arcade-style handling with Mario Kart-style weapons, Blur was essentially a kart racing game for adults.
Races were constantly chaotic and exciting: blasting opponents with bombs and mines and was hugely satisfying. Locations ranged from London to Brighton Pier.
Blur was developed by Bizarre Creations, best known for the Project Gotham Racing series. Despite praise from critics, Blur sold poorly. Tragically, Blur’s poor sales resulted in Bizarre Creations closing its doors in 2011.
Due to licensing restrictions, Blur was delisted on digital stores. This means the only way you can play this underrated combat racer is by hunting down a used physical copy. Since Bizarre Creations closed, Blur has developed a cult following, so it should be popular on PS5.
One of the reasons why Blur failed was because it released a few days after Split/Second: Velocity. Developed by Black Rock Studios and released in 2010, Split/Second was an action-packed arcade racer with a unique premise.
In Split/Second, you raced on tracks rigged to explode in a reality-TV show. In a unique twist, you could use the environment to your advantage. Filling your powerup meter allowed you to trigger environmental traps and take out opponents.
This resulted in some jaw-dropping setpieces straight out of a Michael Bay movie: you never forget the first time a jumbo jet crash lands onto the track in front of you, missing your car by inches.
Over ten years later, Split/Second is still a blast to play and looks stunning. It’s backwards compatible on Xbox Series X|S, but PS5 owners are missing out on this underrated racer. The PS3 version’s framerate was choppy as the hardware struggled to cope with all the chaos, but the more powerful PS5 hardware would eliminate this issue and make it play like a modern game.
Midnight Club: Los Angeles
It’s been 14 years since the last Midnight Club game. After the series came up in a Take-Two Interactive investor call, there are rumours Midnight Club could make a comeback. We’re keeping our fingers crossed, but in the meantime, it’s a good excuse to revisit Midnight Club: Los Angeles.
While Midnight Club LA is backwards compatible on Xbox One and Xbox Series consoles, PlayStation players are out of luck. It’s not even available on the PS Now streaming service.
At the time, the open world was the largest in the series to date, with an accurate version of the City of Angels to explore. Car customisation was also expanded, while a Race Editor allowed you to create your own races in online multiplayer.
While Forza Horizon 5 is proving popular on Xbox, PS5 players are starved of open-world racing games right now, paving the way for Midnight Club LA to give us our street racing game fix while we wait for the new Need for Speed.
Driver: San Francisco
Several years before Grand Theft Auto III popularised open-world games, Driver let you drive recklessly around 3D cities while running from the cops. Released in 2011, Driver: San Francisco, the last mainline game in the series, is criminally underrated.
You played as undercover cop John Tanner, who is in a coma after being injured in a crash while on duty. This was the setup for Driver: San Francisco’s innovative Shift mechanic. Instead of getting out of the car and exploring the city on foot, Shift let you control Tanner’s spirit and possess other drivers, taking control of their cars. It sounds wacky, but the ability to switch between cars on the fly made for some entertaining multiplayer matches.
Driver: San Francisco was also the first game in the series with licensed cars, putting you behind the wheel of famous Hollywood movie cars from the Ford Mustang driven by Steve McQueen in Bullitt to the Dodge Challenger in Vanishing Point.
Like Midnight Club: Los Angeles, Driver: San Francisco is backwards compatible on Xbox One and Xbox Series consoles but not PS4 and PS5. After the open-world driving game celebrated its tenth-anniversary last year, this needs to change.
For more articles like this, take a look at our Opinion page.