The 5 best driving video games in history

16th Sep, 2020

Being a racing driver is a dearly cherished dream job for countless people across the world, and sometimes it can be fun to imagine ourselves perfectly executing some of the manoeuvres we know for a fact we know we’re not supposed to try while out on the roads: weaving expertly in and out of traffic, executing a sweet drift on a sharp corner, or testing the highest speed capabilities of your vehicle. Unfortunately, everyone tends to take a very dim view if you try any of it on a public highway, and rightly so, since you’ll almost certainly end up in a collision that scraps your car. You know where you can do them, though? Videogames.

Driving videogames are one of the medium’s oldest genres, starting with Atari’s Gran Trak 10, released all the way back in 1974. Since then, it’s remained an enduringly popular type of game, and in all the decades since, it’s encompassed everything from laser-accurate driving sims, all the way to some more creative interpretations. What actually makes the best driving videogame is all a matter of opinion, of course, but here are five of our personal favourites.

Gran Turismo: A Spec

Let’s start with an oldie but a goodie. This is the gold standard from the iconic Gran Turismo series, which was the absolute king back in the late 90s and early 2000s. This game, launched in 2001, marks the epitome of that reputation. It featured two hundred fully-detailed tracks and dozens of cars, and had the physics and realism chops to match. It was the perfect blend – accessible but difficult, it was the ultimate for eager racing fans and true driving sim enthusiasts.

It looks plenty dated now of course, 20 years later, but some people think that it was so good it might have even worked against the series in the long run – it was such a big leap forward that its successors struggled to match it. It remains a firm favourite for people today.


Grand Prix Legends

Another ultra-realistic driving game from a bygone era, Grand Prix Legends was released all the way back in 1999, just a few years before A Spec. It’s notable not just for its gameplay innovations, but also for the era in which it was set. The game takes place in the 1967 Formula One season, which was not long before a new series of safety regulations transformed the sport forever. As a result, you take your place in the cockpit during one of the most high-risk eras in open wheel racing.

Grand Prix Legends enhanced this feeling with advanced graphics and an intricate handling system that made its cars convincingly responsive – and difficult to control. Every race therefore demands a steady hand and lightning-fast reflexes. In short, it made you work to get past that finish line, but boy what a feeling when you did.

Burnout 3: Takedown

The Burnout series first launched when Gran Turismo was in its heyday, and while the latter focused on creating a realistic, detailed (and sometimes punishing) racing experience for players to enjoy, the genius idea behind Burnout was basically: also racing, but with ten times as much crashing into stuff.

Burnout 3 is the paragon of that high concept. While more serious racing games stayed true to the spirit of the sport by penalising you for crashing into other competitors, Burnout 3 actively encouraged it. In fact, more than encouraged it: the game introduced a whole branch of ways you could induce high-octane crashes on the tracks (which were also active public highways). This included the beautifully cruel ‘Psyche Out’ which involved sticking right on your opponent’s rear bumper until his nerves finally broke, and he’d end up as twisted wreckage halfway through some innocent motorist’s windscreen. Happy days.

Rocket League


Rocket League arguably redefined the meaning of the word motorsport by introducing its concept as “soccer, but with rocket-powered cars”. Let’s be honest, you don’t need to be a fan of real-life sports to see the appeal in that. It’s basically a football game crossed with a demolition derby. You can play alone or online, but either way, you can count on absolute mayhem to ensue. It’s a dirty game, too – not only can you use speed boosts on the ground for a hard strike, or in mid-air to execute your best impression of a header, but you can also use these turbo boosts to ram your opponents’ cars, destroying them for short periods.

The bouts are short but frantic, normally only around five minutes long. There have been plenty of updates to the game since that first release, and now you can enjoy ‘mutators’, which let you alter certain gameplay factors such as increasing or decreasing the gravity, ball speed, and bounciness (just to name a few).

Grand Theft Auto 5

You knew this one was coming, didn’t you? It doesn’t need a tonne of introduction – you’ve probably heard of it even if you’ve never touched a controller. It’s not just one of the most popular driving games in history, but one of the most popular video games ever, period. When Grand Theft Auto launched back in 2013, it broke multiple industry sales records and even transcended the boundaries of the video game industry to become the fastest-selling entertainment product in history. Even today, years later, it remains the second best selling video game of all time, second only to the titan that is Minecraft.

It immerses you in a beautifully realised game world of Southern California, allowing you to world of staggering size, and drink in all the sights and sounds therein. There’s lots of guns and violence, of course, and plenty of gratuitous explosions. (Also: golf. If explosions and mayhem aren’t your thing, you can shoot a few holes if you want.) But as the title might suggest, the biggest focus is the vehicles, which play more than a passing role in the gameplay.


We’ll come clean with you – it’s not a series known for its dedication to realistic driving physics. Sure, there are races and time trials to complete if that’s what you’re looking for, but most of the time you’re not going to be revelling in the intricate dynamics of your car – you’re going to be testing physics by flipping it over boats, or launching it into oblivion from the highest clifftop you can find. What it lacks in detail and realism, it makes up for in enormous fun, offering a number of novel ways to scrap your car.

Hopefully your real car doesn’t suffer a fate quite that drastic, though. More likely you’ll decide to scrap it because of something far more pedestrian – maybe because of a failed MOT test, or maybe just because it’s become uneconomical to run. Whatever the case, we’re here to help right here at Scrap Car Network.

Our job is to get you the best price when you scrap your car with us, and our car recycling targets mean that you can be sure we’ll keep vehicle waste to a minimum. You can find out about more reasons to choose us here, or if you’re ready to get your car scrapped today, just enter a few quick details into our homepage, and we’ll get you your very own instant online quote!

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