Best Racing Game of 2011
Without a doubt, 2011 was an outstanding year for gaming. We were covered up with good games this year, which makes picking the best of them even harder. Luckily, we’ve got you, the readers, to help us out.
Every day this week, we’ll be revealing our staff choices for the best games of the year in a variety of categories. We’ll also be reporting the results of our Reader’s Choice voting. So, without further ado, we happily present the Best Racing Games of 2011.
The racing genre expanded a bit this year as venerated franchises like Need for Speed brought their newest products to market alongside the return of classics like the Driver series. After countless laps around a ridiculous number of tracks, we finally honed the field down to five.
The nominees were:
- DiRT 3 – Read our review!
- Driver: San Francisco – Read our review!
- Forza Motorsport 4 – Read our review!
- Motorstorm: Apocalypse – Read our review!
- Shift 2: Unleashed – Read our review!
5. Shift 2: Unleashed
Shift 2 Unleashed roared onto the 2011 racing scene with incredibly dangerous tracks, a ridiculously immersive helmet cam and stunningly realistic graphics. With the player’s crew chief voiced by real life racing champs such as Vaughn Gittin Jr, Shift 2’s goal was to blur the line between racing sim and reality. And blur the line they did! Asphalt would liquidize beneath the tires of rival cars and spatter up onto the player’s windshield, night races became panic-inducing horror shows if a headlight got damaged. Realistic reflections would bounce off the windows of high end sports cars. Here was something long awaited: a Need For Speed game that could appeal to racing sim fans as well as more casual players.
Shift 2 also introduced the Autolog feature which allowed players to keep track of how they were doing against their friends. This innovative feature could tell a player if their friend had posted a superior lap time and also show the player what equipment had been essential to earning that time. Add all these ingredients together along with some fantastic tracks located in places like Tokyo or Dubai, and Shift 2 Unleashed’s recipe produced one of the best racing games of 2011.
4. Motorstorm: Apocalypse
Motorstorm Apocalypse manages to be the most extreme and exciting entry in an already very extreme and exciting franchise. It puts you in a major city as it’s ravaged by both a ridiculous earthquake and some very harsh weather, and it sets you loose. This game truly feels unhinged, and that feeling is exactly what you want out of a great arcade racer. You’ll race though torn-up street and across the rooftops of buildings that are falling apart around you, and you’ll love every single second of it. This game isn’t afraid to be as stupid as possible, and I can’t help but love it for that fact. In a year in which most of the big racers went with more of a simulation style, Motorstorm Apocalypse really stands out. You will remember this game, and that will say more about it than I ever could.
3. DiRT 3
There’s a whole lot of rally racing goodness to be had in DiRT 3, the latest in Codemasters’ series of racers. Whether you’re pounding through tons of events that take you all over the world in the single-player campaign, or you’re taking on one-off quick-play races, or you’re just seeing how much drift you can get out of a car in Gymkhana mode, you definitely won’t get bored when you pop in DiRT 3.
The game’s tough to master, too – on the harder difficulties, it punishes you for your mistakes, but on easier difficulties the game will actually help train you to drive by managing the throttle or braking for you, if you want. That can help players new to the series get used to some of DiRT 3’s awesome new additions, like brutally bad weather that can make some courses an exercise in balancing speed and caution. Great controls, great graphics and really tough races make DiRT 3 one of the year’s best racing offerings.