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The best driving games of autumn 2014

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Image © Sony Computer Entertainment

Driving games have come a long way. From 1973’s Rally X and its state-of-the-art radar through to the near photo-realistic visuals we have today, the last 40 years have been a feast for motoring fans who want the thrill of racing without the danger of potentially crashing a car at 120 miles per hour.

With the North American release of Driveclub today (us Brits have to wait til the 10th), we have made a list of the best racing games due this autumn, as well as what’s already on store shelves.

What’s out this Autumn?

Driveclub

Evolution Studios – the British development house behind eagerly anticipated Driveclub – has a great track record in making superb racing games. Starting off with World Rally Championship on the PlayStation 2 (a game I personally played for many dozens of hours) and its 4 sequels, the company moved on to the Motorstorm series when Sony unveiled their upgraded PlayStation 3 hardware. Fully owned by Sony Computer Entertainment, they are in a prime position to take full advantage of the new PlayStation 4 hardware and connectivity features.

Video originally uploaded by Gamespot on YouTube Featuring some incredible locales such as Norway, India and Chile – as well as stunningly recreated cars buzzing around the tracks in 1080p high-definition, this is Sony’s first chance at showing off the grunt of the PS4’s processing power. Due shortly after release is a fully dynamic weather system too, to keep you on your toes as the heavens open and rain comes down. Other than the gorgeous graphics, it’s the social features of the game which have taken centre-stage. Players can form clubs of up to 6 people, and work together to complete challenges to earn fame and unlock features. Look out for Driveclub from the 10th October at your chosen games retailer, or if you subscribe to Sony’s PlayStation Plus service, you’ll be able to download a cut-down version for free, so you can get a taste of the new flagship racing game without being out of pocket!

Forza Horizon 2

Redmond-based Turn 10 Studios’ Forza Motorsport has long been known as the best racing sim series to run on Microsoft’s Xbox hardware, with a name almost as prestigious as Sony’s Gran Turismo franchise (visit any gaming site to witness the frenzied discussion around which is the greatest game).

It was in October 2012 that the primarily simulator-styled series took an unexpected turn, and Forza Horizon was born. Developed mainly by another British studio – we’re rather good at racing games it seems – Playground games, Horizon broke free of the primarily circuit-based gameplay of the main series, and ventured out into an open world focused around a fictitious “Horizon Festival” event. Forza Horizon 2 takes this concept and expands on it for next-gen (is it now current-gen?) hardware.

Video originally uploaded by PS360HD on YouTube Though the game is available on both the (nearly 8-year-old) Xbox 360 and the new Xbox One systems, it’s evident that it was developed primarily for the newer hardware. Taking full advantage of the huge increases in processing power and memory available on the Xbox One, rushing through the new setting of southern Europe is full of tiny, careful details and tactile high-resolution textures wherever you look. Race cross-country over the hills of Italy, before dipping down into a seaside town as an aircraft display team flies low over your head. This is a game of spectacle and fun which is unmatched by its rivals so far. Forza Horizon 2 is available now for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One systems. Go get it!

The Crew

Have you ever wanted to drive across the USA? How about if you could do so in just 90 minutes? You’d save a lot of time, certainly. This is the impressive concept for Ubisoft’s new persistent online open-world in The Crew, due on the 11th November 2014.

Video was originally uploaded by Ubisoft on YouTube Pitched as “World of Warcraft for racers”, the game gives you a fully-realised USA to drive through, with no limits as to where you can go. There is a storyline, of course – something about rising through the ranks of a gang, yadda yadda etc.. – but the main draw will surely be grouping up with your friends for the roadtrip of a lifetime, racing past Mount Rushmore, rallying through Monument Valley and seeing all the sights there are to see.

Project CARS

Oh look, another British studio making an insanely awesome racing game? Looks like we’ve done it again, folks. What’s this one all about, then?

Project CARS is a community-led and crowd-funded racing simulator which is aiming for the stars. Led by Slightly Mad Studios – previously known for Need for Speed: Shift – the community has helped fund, develop and QA test the product, and will take a share of the game’s profits over the first 3 years from launch as compensation.

Video was originally uploaded by PlayStation Access on YouTube This game aims to tick all the boxes. Realistic physics simulation? CHECK! Dynamic weather? CHECK! Fully-recreated internal and external views of our favourite motors? YES OF COURSE! The PC version of the game even includes support for the Oculus Rift VR headset, and the developers have even announced support for Sony’s Project Morpheus headset as-and-when that piece of hardware turns up for the PS4. This game has been making waves in the driving game community, and it’s clear to see why. The game is freaking beautiful, and more than holds up to the incumbent rulers of the racing sim genre – Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport. Grab this game on PC, PS4 and Xbox One on the 21st November 2014. If you’re looking for the game on Wii U or SteamOS / Linux, you’ll have to wait til next year. Sorry about that!

GTA V Remastered

Alright, I know this isn’t a racing game, but there’s a whole lot of driving involved and it’s also just one of the greatest games ever made, so the fact that Grand Theft Auto 5 is coming to the new generation of consoles and PC is something to shout about. So this is me shouting about it!

Video was originally uploaded by PlayStation Access on YouTube Featuring upgraded lighting, weather effects, draw distances and textures, the remastered version of the game looks fantastic. Rockstar North (another British studio.. OK I’ll stop now) has increased the density of traffic and crowds on the streets of Los Santos, as well as introducing new wildlife and vegetation to the outlying areas. If you’ve not played this game yet, or if you have but you want it looking even prettier, check it out when it lands for PS4 and XBox One on November 18th 2014. If you’re one of those PC gamers, you’ll have to wait til the end of January 2015, as the studio needs a little extra time for this. You can forgive them for that though, right?

But I can’t wait ‘til then!

If you’re dying for a great racing experience on console, these titles will more than help scratch that itch…

Need For Speed Rivals

So you have a PS4 but need more racing action and you need it RIGHT NOW, there’s not a whole lot you can do, in all honesty. The best bet is most likely last year’s Need For Speed Rivals. You could do much worse!

Video originally uploaded by Need for Speed on YouTube. Developed by Ghost Games with help from the incredible Criterion Games – the British (again.. Sorry) studio behind the much-missed Burnout series – Rivals featured an open-world with two independent career modes, either as a racer or a cop. Both of these options feature their own story lines giving access to other features and cars. With fantastic 1080p graphics running at a nice locked framerate of 30fps, it shows off your PS4’s next-gen graphics nicely. Note: This game is also available for all other major platforms, not just PlayStation 4.

Forza Motorsport 5

Oh you lucky lucky Xbox One owners. Microsoft were well on top of catering for your need for pedal-to-the-metal racing thrills right from launch. Forza 5 continues the main Forza franchise’s racing simulation roots and makes it all look super shiny and extra sharp with all that additional grunt behind the scenes.

Video originally uploaded by user turnkills67 on YouTube Featuring 200 cars from over 50 manufacturers, as well as all our favourite racing circuits from around the world, Turn 10 Studios made a real feast for fans of fast metal. Forza 5 was released on 22nd November 2013, so hopefully you can pick it up for a steal in your favourite gaming establishment now!

But I want to drive tractors!

I’m not sure any of the above games can leave your thirst for tractors and harvesters satiated, but fear not, young gamer! There is still hope. Farming Sim 15 is our wildcard today, and it’s looking mighty fine. If you’re into that kind of thing.

“What could they possibly add to the divine Farming Sim 14?” I hear you ask? A brand new graphics and physics engine are touted among the new features (check the video below to see how pretty it is – it is very pretty), as well as the ability to go logging. Have you ever wanted to farm with 14 of your pals? Farming Sim 15 can help here, too, with online multiplayer rounding out the features of this game.

Video originally uploaded by Farm Simulator on YouTube. If you’re a PC gamer, you will get the game first (for once) on October 30th. If you wish to tend the fields and bale the hay on your home consoles, however, the game will launch for PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One early next year. I haven’t seen any plans for a Wii U port (something I fear is a missed opportunity) but you shall be updated as soon as I hear anything! So what do you think? Are you going to be picking up Driveclub or Project Cars? The Crew or Forza Horizon 2? Let us know on our Facebook page or in the comments below!

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