Top 5 Most Anticipated… Racers
Are your engines started yet, or thoroughly worn out? Depending on your allegiance to and interest in the racing genre of video games, your answer to that first question may vary. Thanks to a large degree of success this generation, developers have been keen to release iteration upon iteration of racing sequels on a yearly basis ever since the release of the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii. For some, the sheer number of racers might have proved a little hard to take over the years.
Worry not, though, because what the genre has left to offer in the current generation may help to create something of a turning point before the new consoles arrive. Five new racing games are on their way to stores in months to come, five titles that stand a genuine change of turning the tide should the wind blow in the right direction. Let’s look ahead towards the end of 2012 and the first half of 2013, as we discover the most promising racers still to come this generation…
5. CARMAGEDDON: REINCARNATION
Revived by a Kickstarter development project earlier in 2012 after months of delays and setbacks, the new entry in the Carmageddon franchise will land on PCs and Macs everywhere in just a few months’ time. Details on Reincarnation remain relatively scarce right now, but it’s expected to feature all of the trademark violence associated with the series.
There’s actually quite a strong chance this project could meet censorships and bans once it gets an actual release due to the extreme level of blood and gore that could feature, though times are a little less restrictive in that respect seeing as it’s been nearly a decade since the last entry. Carmaggedon: Reincarnation will most certainly be a subtle indie title, but that doesn’t mean it’s one you should give a miss should the opportunity arise for you to try it.
And to be honest, I think I know a whole team of campaigners who would be rather disappointed if this one doesn’t sell…
4. SONIC & ALL-STARS RACING: TRANSFORMED
Who here remembers Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing? If your hand wasn’t raised, don’t feel too disheartened- faced with opposition from the likes of Just Cause 2 and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 back in Spring 2010 upon its release, SEGA’s Mario Kart rip-off didn’t sell despite actually being a great ‘port’ to HD systems of the kart racing genre.
SEGA being SEGA, though, they aren’t content to let that fly, so sure enough we’ve got a fully-fledged sequel coming to consoles barely two years later. Enter Transformed, a follow-up which gives players’ vehicles the ability to shift and change their form between land, sea and air terrain to suit their surroundings. This new dynamic appears to ape Mario Kart 7, but if it works as well as the mechanic did for Nintendo’s franchise then the developer and publishers might just have a winner on their hands here. Well, unless there’s a Mario Kart for WiiU, of course…I’m guessing the team are trying their best to ignore thoughts of that possibility.
And did I mention it’s got Wreck-It Ralph as a playable character? That’s a selling point right there, is it not? (If you don’t understand the relevance, make up for your mistake and look the new Disney animation up right now. Back? There, that wasn’t so hard, was it?)
3. LITTLE BIG PLANET KARTING
For those loyal to the PlayStation 3 and indeed the LittleBigPlanet franchise, there’s a good chance this charming racer will have already landed in their pre-order baskets. Not among that fanbase? Believe it or not, LBP Karting may not be as simple a rip-off of the Mario Kart series as it initially looks.
Sackboy is making the jump into a region usually owned by everyone’s favourite Italian plumber, yet I reckon it will be the ingenious creativity posed to the players by Media Molecule within their hit franchise that makes this one different to its competitors. Never forget that fans of LittleBigPlanet turned the platformer into an FPS in their use of the second entry’s comprehensive creation tools, so to see what the future holds for this nifty little racer is very exciting indeed!
It’s one of just a few PlayStation 3 exclusives coming our way in 2012 too before The Last Of Us lands next year- Sony fans will want to make the most of it.
2. NEED FOR SPEED: MOST WANTED
Try as I might, I find it hard to fault EA’s COD-esque strategy of annual releases for the Need For Speed franchise. Yes, we’ve had lacklustre outings like Nitro and The Run as a result of this approach, but on the other hand the only reason we’ve stumbled upon gems such as Shift in recent years has been thanks to the publisher’s tendency to try out different developers each time. Very few of the development teams have been called back for a follow-up attempt…bar one notable exception.
The team in question? Criterion Games. Having brought us the ace Hot Pursuit two years back, the Burnout creators are back in action to revive Need For Speed: Most Wanted, perhaps the most acclaimed version of the racing series to arrive since the original Hot Pursuit debuted in 1998. Clearly Criterion are utilising their open-world development assets from Burnout: Paradise to create a new incarnation of Fairhaven City for players to roam and where they can seek out race challenges in which they can participate. Given the quality of their previous smash-em-up, though, that’s certainly no bad thing.
From here on out, Criterion are handling the development of all future Need For Speed games. While this could perhaps lead to an overdose of familiarity later on in their annual cycle, for now it means that Most Wanted will stand as a strong representation of where its franchise will head in the next-generation.
1. FORZA HORIZON
At the top of this prestigious list lies the series that did the impossible this generation. After years of waiting to see Gran Turismo 5, many of us were shocked to realise in 2010 that we’d already seen a better offering of racing goodness from Forza Motorsport 3 the year before, and again we’d see a far more comprehensive and engaging experience emerge with Forza 4 the next year. Such a transition of superiority between a famous racer and a rising star was unprecedented to say the least, but Microsoft and Turn 10 Studios are not letting up in terms of their ambition with the latest entry.
Handing control to British dev Playground Games- three cheers from those of us still hyped on the patriotic passion of the Olympics Opening Ceremony!- the series overlords have commissioned Forza Horizon, an open-world title the scale of which has rarely been seen in the racing genre before. It’s out with Top Gear and in with top-quality festival tournaments and free-roaming exploration here, with the general gist of the marketing campaign being that if you can see somewhere in the distance you’d like to visit, you need only rev up and shift into gear!
Will Horizon be the best racing game of this generation? It’s difficult to tell this early on, but the signs from its aesthetics and the wealth of new features are looking very promising. Watch this space…or better yet, just place your pre-order right now!
What are your thoughts on the direction the racing genre has taken over the course of the current-generation of consoles? Will any of these titles make a difference in your planned game purchase schedule for the months ahead?