Historically speaking, the racing video game genre is one of the oldest and most innovative of them all. However, a lot of that innovation is a distant memory.
It's easy to dismiss racing games after one disappointing release hits shelves, but is this warranted? Have racing games declined in recent times? And if so, what's been the cause?
We're going to take a deep dive into the community's complaints and determine whether the grass is greener in the past or if we're looking back with rose-tinted glasses.
The golden era
It's hard to pinpoint what the consensus is for when racing games were at their peak. However, most people will point to the sixth generation of consoles. This the time when the PlayStation 2 and original Xbox were the latest systems.
There have been great racing games on the market ever since the first was released just over 50 years ago. However, the period between 2000 and 2006 had a lot of classics.
There's no doubt that some series such as Need for Speed, Burnout and Gran Turismo were at their peaks during this era.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Burnout 3: Takedown and Gran Turismo 4 are all the pinnacles of their respective series. Add in other series like Ridge Racer and even the incredible F1: Championship Edition and it's easy to see why this period is so revered.
Good modern racing games
It's easy to get caught up in the nostalgia, but there are many great racing series still going today. F1 Manager made a splash in its debut by introducing a true Formula 1 management game to the market.
WRC Generations is also one of the best rally games of all-time, with incredibly impressive physics and a wide array of cars and environments to race on.
While F1 22, Gran Turismo 7 and Forza Horizon 5 aren't the best in their respective series, they are still good games. Almost all racing gamers can have fun with these titles, so racing games are far from "dead", as some people claim.
Other games that have been out for years like racing simulators iRacing and rFactor 2 have been receiving regular updates too. These are undisputedly two of the best sims of all time and won't fall out of favour anytime soon.
Indie games and modding
While the triple-A titles do understandably take the spotlight, the Indie scene is thriving right now.
Lastly, one of the best aspects of modern gaming is the modding community. PC gamers can enjoy HD texture packs for older games, new cars and tracks for new games and everything in between.
Now, there is an elephant in the room to address, or rather a few that are missing. A lot of classic racing series we loved playing are no more and we sorely miss them.
Burnout Paradise (2008) marked the final entry for one of the best arcade racing series of all time. Driver: San Francisco reinvented the open-world Driver series but this is also the last entry in the series.
Midnight Club: LA saw Rockstar's racing game series go out on a high, while Ridge Racer faded into obscurity.
So, why did these series get discontinued? The reasons are various, but it's sadly reflective of one of the negative sides of modern gaming.
The bad side of modern gaming
Like a lot of the evils of today, it all boils down to money. Video game publishers' number one priority is to make money. If they don't, they go out of business. It's as simple as that.
The real issue, though, lies with how a lot of companies have gone about making this profit, which is rubbing a lot of gamers up the wrong way.
Possibly the worst aspect of this chase for profit is that some games are released before being finished, rather than be delayed. Companies have deadlines to meet, but it's not uncommon for a half-baked game to be released and then be relentlessly patched over the following year.
Something that also irks a lot of gamers is the trend of remasters, as it arguably shows a lack of ingenuity on developers' parts. Remakes arguably further back up the idea that racing games used to be better.
While the price of new video games has increased, it's the microtransactions that have done the real damage to games' reputations. This isn't unique to racing games by any means, but it doesn't help.
So, are racing games worse now?
Ultimately, it's hard to argue that racing games are better now than they used to be. There are some great games and this won't change anytime soon, but the industry has regressed in multiple regards.
Despite the top sim racing games having more complex and technically impressive physics models than ever before, there's a very real argument to be made that many racing games aren't as fun as they used to be.
The only way to truly tell will come in time. Nostalgia clouds our vision, and today's games haven't had a chance to mature yet. We'd also be lying if we weren't looking forward to games like Forza Motorsport and the next Mario Kart.
Like any form of media, there will be good and bad entries from the genre. It's definitely wise to be careful before buying, but you shouldn't close yourself off from all racing games - otherwise, you'll definitely miss out.
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