Must-Have Racing Games for Christmas

With Christmas being just around the corner, its only a matter of time before the mad, frantic rush to get everything ready for that certain day in December begins in all its chaotic fury. And perhaps the biggest hurdle to overcome regards the choice of presents.

Thankfully, us here at carwow are here to lend a helping hand, by listing all the must-have racing games thatll make fabulous stocking fillers for your car-obsessed friends and family.
But what to begin the list with? Well, one of the biggest games of the year might be a good place to start
(Note: All prices sourced from HMV, and were correct when this piece was published)

Forza Horizon

The Forza Motorsport series has gone on to become one of the top gaming franchises in recent years, but like almost every other game of this type theyre focused purely on circuit racing. If only there was a Forza game that let you drive on the open road

Oh wait, there is! Its called Forza Horizon.
Revolving around a music festival set in a fictional interpretation of Colorado, Forza Horizon takes everything that makes its on-track predecessors great, and simply transfers it to an open world environment. The visuals are great, anyone can pick it up and play and (thisll be something busy parents will love if theyve bought this for the kids) theres literally tons to keep you occupied.
Put simply, if youre struggling for gift ideas and theres going to be an Xbox 360 hooked up to the TV on Christmas Day, you cant go far wrong with this.
Metacritic: 85/100
Available on:Xbox 360
RRP: 39.50

F1 2012

F1 2012
This years Formula One season has been a pretty spectacular one, so the officially licenced game certainly has big boots to fill. Thankfully, F1 2012 does the sport justice, and its possible to say this is the best F1 game ever made.
Okay, that claim might be a tad controversial, but theres no denying thatF1 2012is a pretty impressive game Not only does it do a pretty stellar job at giving players a taste of what its like to be an F1 driver, but new additions such as taking on the six World Champions in the new Champions Mode help spice things up should you get bored with doing the career mode.
Oh, and well be amazed if you can find another game that does wet weather racing better than this!
If you know someone whos an avid Formula One fan and an advocate of video games, then F1 2012 might just be their idea of a perfect prezzie.
Metacritic: 81/100
Available on: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
RRP: 29.99 (PC), 39.99 (PS3, Xbox 360)

F1 Race Stars

F1 Race Stars
If youre an F1 fan, but youre not into the focused, hard-core nature of the official F1 2012 game, dont fret! The same developers behind that title have also brought this noticeably more casual, caricatured alternative to the table:F1 Race Stars.
Essentially what would happen if you put the aforementioned professional F1 game and Mario Kart in a blender together, everything is noticeably more cartoonified (if thats even a word?) in F1 Race Stars. Features such as KERS, the safety car and weather changes are still present, but now you get power ups and novel little details like avoiding traffic on the Autobahn during the German Grand Prix.
If Metacritics aggregated score is anything to go by, though, it doesnt appear to be the best arcade kart racing game. Were positive that kids will love it, though they are, after all, this games core audience and, if youre sick to death of playing Mario Kart on the Nintendo Wii, then perhaps F1 Race Stars is worth a try.
Metacritic: 61/100
Available on: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
RRP: 29.99

Need for Speed: Most Wanted

Need for Speed
Over the years, there have been some pretty cool Need for Speed titles, and one of the legends of NFS lore is the original Most Wanted. As a result, this new one has a lot to live up to, but it appears that the modern dayMost Wantedis worthy of being branded with such a name.
Done by the same people who gave us all those crazy Burnout games, it shouldnt be surprising to hear that Most Wanted is comfortably one of the most exhilarating racing games of the year. With the sound effects, the visuals, the sense of speed and the cop chases being this intense, well be amazed if we hear of people claiming the game to be boring.
There is a bit of a learning curve and, whilst it wont push you beyond your limits, some really close police chases can get a bit frustrating at times (especially when a horde of cop cars plough into you at God knows how many miles per hour), but when Most Wanted is as exciting and as thrilling as this, its something we can forgive it for!
Metacritic: 82/100
Available on: PC, PS3, PS Vita, Xbox 360
RRP: 32.99 (PC, PS Vita), 37.99 (PS3, Xbox 360)

Gran Turismo 5: Academy Edition

Gran Turismo 5 GT Academy
Okay, well be honest: this ones a bit of an anomaly. After all, the original version of GT5 was released nearly two years ago, and this special editions been out for a month or two already. However, its still going to be on sale during the holiday season, so GT5 is still eligible in our eyes.
Especially as, despite being a two year old game, Gran Turismo 5 has a lot going for it no other game can come close to GT5s 1,000+ car roster, you can spend as many hours racing as you can tuning your cars and taking in-game pics of them in the Photo Mode, and theGT Academyversion comes with 20 worth of downloadable content stamped onto the disc, free of charge (how very generous of them!).
When compared with more recent racing games, we will admit that Gran Turismo 5 is showing its age in places. That said, the old dog can still stand up to the new kids on the block and, with the extra content being included for free, there perhaps wont be a better time to put GT5 on your Xmas wish list if its not part of your PS3 game collection already
Metacritic: 84/100
Available on: PS3
RRP: 19.99


Given the World Rally Championship is in a bit of a state at the moment, its perhaps a tad ironic that with a bit of help from the DiRT series rally games are pretty popular. So much so, that the tiny crew at Milestone plan on tapping into that market with their all-new officially licenced game; WRC 3.
If youre a die-hard WRC fan, its likely that this game will appeal to you every rally event from this years championship, along with all the cars and drivers, are present in this game. Theres also a second, less focused and more casual career mode for you to try out, once youve become the virtual version of Sebastian Loeb and dominated the special stages.
Its worth pointing out, though, that this is a pretty serious title with a bit of a steep learning curve, so more casual gamers may be better off with the less intimidating DiRT games. If youre a massive WRC fanatic and like a bit of a challenge when youre playing racing games, though, then by all means take WRC 3 out for a spin if you prefer your racers to be raw and focused, thisll most likely be your cup of tea.
Metacritic: 62/100
Available on: PC, PS Vita, PS3, Xbox 360
RRP: 27.99 (PS Vita), 29,99 (PC), 32.99 (PS3, Xbox 360)

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