“Gran Turismo 7”
Wrrrrrrrrrrrrm! The Shelby GTR350R is racing around the digital curve in Sony’s “Gran Turismo 7”. Photo: Sony/dpa-tmn/Screenshot
The game design philosophy behind “Gran Turismo” can be described in one word: love. For 25 years, the Sony-exclusive racing game series has stood for extensive gaming fun in front of imposing backdrops. Hardly any other series offers more cars, greater scope and so much attention to detail as Polyphony Digital’s anthem to the automobile.
Since 1997, a total of almost 90 million copies of the series have been sold. Players receive a few dollars at the beginning with which they have to win in small races against a few easy opponents.
If you want to go higher, you have to purchase licenses that offer you a larger selection of racing series, cars and tuning parts. In the end, there are over 400 vehicles to choose from, from the classic VW Beetle to the highly bred racing sports car. PS fans can let off steam on more than 30 tracks.
Visually, the PS5 version is a stunner. Glittering asphalt, different weather conditions and the imposing tracks tickle the potential of the new Sony console. The level of difficulty is very accessible: like in a role-playing game, the racing pilots can slowly improve the car to keep up with the fast-paced competition. This makes “Gran Turismo 7” an extensive racing experience for weeks of fun.
Worth playing because: Get behind the wheel and enjoy the ride. With “Gran Turismo 7” Polyphony Digital and Sony return to the old strengths of the series and offer a full racing pleasure.
“Forza Horizon 5”
There is rarely so much spectacle: “Forza Horizon 5” is the new flagship for Microsoft’s console Xbox Series. Playground Games stages an open-world racing spectacle that chases players through an idyllic Mexico in search of money and fame.
There is no standstill – “Forza Horizon 5” gives full throttle from the first moment. It goes with the Mustang GT through narrow streets, with the pick-up through the swamp or with the buggy over the beach. There is always a race or a challenge somewhere in the gaming world.
The special feature: every area is freely navigable and offers new missions in the form of racing challenges, just like in an open-world adventure. This can be a normal road race or sometimes a test of skill in which the fans have to achieve record distances via jumping ramps. If it goes wrong, a rewind button helps.
With each successful challenge, the drivers rise in ranks and unlock new tracks or buy new cars or tuning parts with the prize money.
Variety is the trump card. Whether alone against time or against human opponents online – “Forza Horizon 5” offers numerous game modes. Almost every action, from drifting to the rabid rolling down of road signs, brings experience points. In addition, there are butter-soft animations, impressive weather effects and a catchy soundtrack.
Worth playing because: “Forza Horizon 5” is a must for every Xbox Series fan. A huge, spectacularly staged adventure playground for every racing fan.
“Mario Kart 8 Deluxe”
The Nintendo-exclusive racing game series “Mario Kart” has been on the hood for about 30 years. Since the Super Nintendo, it has shaped entire generations of video game fans. The eighth part combines all the strengths of the predecessors into an all-round care package.
The crazy races with the well-known heroes and villains from the Platformer template have lost none of their fun even decades after their premiere. But “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” is not even new. It is the remake of the Nintendo Wii game “Mario Kart 8” – with a few refined technical and playful details.
In different engine classes, players race against computer opponents or against up to 7 human opponents along the colorful routes from the “sugar-sweet Canyon” to the “Creepy-crawly Villa”. Not only perfect drifting counts, but also the use of popular extras such as banana peels or rocket propulsion.
In addition to the races, fans can also pop enemy balloons or chase coins in online arenas. “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” is one thing above all: great fun for the whole family. Even after 30 years, it is an enormous pleasure to slow down the competition with a banana peel or to hurl it off the track with a targeted turtle shell.
If you know all 48 routes by heart, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Nintendo has announced a further 48 routes until the end of 2023 in a paid additional package.
Worth playing because: Chaotic, funny, unmatched. “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” offers varied and funny races in a unique comic look.
If the competition is too colorful and hectic, “GRID Legends” is just right for you. The latest offshoot of the long-lasting series from the English development studio Codemasters relies on proven virtues, such as a good driving experience. Nevertheless, the fans do not have to do without audiovisual highlights.
“GRID Legends” consists of two parts. On the one hand, there is the classic racing game mode. Players slowly climb up the career ladder by collecting points and money to unlock new tracks and cars through racing game victories around the world.
On the other hand, Codemasters garnishes the game with a story mode. In it, a young racer saves a small racing stable from ruin, in order to become number 1 in the end. The story sequences are staged in the style of a docu-soap with some well-known actors such as Ncuti Gatwa from the Netflix series “Sex Education”.
But regardless of whether it’s a classic racing simulation or a docu-soap that takes some getting used to – the driving behavior of the different cars is in no way inferior to competitors like “Gran Turismo 7”. “GRID Legends” may not be as glittering and not quite as extensive, but it offers purists weeks of driving fun.
Worth playing because: If you ignore the story that takes getting used to, Codemasters offers an extensive racing simulation with “GRID Legends” with a great driving experience and spectacular scenery.
It doesn’t always have to be the big show. In “Hotshot Racing” by Lucky Mountain Games and Sumo Digital, a handful of cars and tracks are enough to offer fans carefree driving fun. In the footsteps of the 80s arcade classic “Out Run”, it goes through curvy mountains and sunny beaches in chic retro graphics.
Protracted struggle for experience points, elaborate tuning? Think! In “Hotshot Racing”, players can accelerate unrestrainedly. What matters alone is the exact moment for the drift. When used correctly, it fills up a kind of energy bar that accelerates the car at the touch of a button. There is no more tactics or playful finesse.
The eight selectable drivers differ mainly by their pithy sayings and the cars only by differences in top speed, acceleration and drifting behavior.
Sounds simple, but it’s not. At higher levels of difficulty, racing pilots have to know the tracks in detail in order to assert themselves against the competition. Only those who drift at the right moment and ignite the boost have a chance of victory. In addition to the Grand Prix game mode, there are also online races.
Worth playing because: Old, but good. “Hotshot Racing” revives old racing classics such as “Out Run” and uncompromisingly focuses on uncomplicated fun.