The PlayStation revolutionised gaming and brought pure 3D entertainment into our living rooms. But, to say our favourite titles are showing signs of ageing is a bit of an understatement. Nevertheless, there are hundreds of titles that still wow us today so here – for your reading pleasure – is our PS1 racing games top ten! If you like this, check our top ten PS1 FPS games and other top tens.

10. Wipeout 2097 (or Wipeout XL)

Wipeout-2097 screenshot

If you’ve ever listened to our podcast you’ll know that I have a love/hate relationship with the Wipeout racing series. But despite continually boinging off the sides and blowing up, I still had fun with it. It also led the way in terms of innovation and thrills in this genre on the PlayStation. Wipeout 2097 (or Wipeout XL) is the best example on this console and what about that soundtrack, phwoarrr.

9. Twisted Metal 2/Twisted Metal: World Tour

twisted metal 2 screenshot - PS1 racing game

Jake reviewed Twisted Metal: World Tour a while back and I’ll be honest, I hadn’t played a Twisted Metal game up until that point (pipe down over there!) Cue me going on a Twisted Metal rampage and playing all of them!

Yes, it isn’t really a racing game as such, but Twisted Metal 2 is unbelievably good fun even when you’re not blowing everyone else to smithereens. Years ago I had an Amiga game called Roadkill, and this is very much what I would want a 3D version of that game to be. Enjoy.

8. V-Rally 2

v-rally 2 screenshot

Coming in at number 8 in our PS1 racing games top ten is another sequel! The PS1 was renowned for its rally games (more on that later) and a series that lost its way a while ago was Infogrames’ V-Rally series.

V-Rally 2: Need for Speed (more on that later) is one for the rally driving purists although it retains an arcade/drifting feel. Lots of tracks and a lot of driving adds up to tens and tens of hours of gaming.

The series disappeared with 2002’s V-Rally 3 and then – sixteen years later – V-Rally 4 appeared on last gen’s consoles and received lukewarm reviews to say the least. Oh well.

7. Jet Moto 2

jet moto 2 screenshot ps1 racing

This was recommended to me by a supporter of the podcast years ago and instantly became a favourite.

Graphically, it’s aged worse than the other games in this list but it’s so much fun you’ll forgive it. It feels a lot like Manx TT on the Saturn just more bouncy. Some of the tracks will make you feel a bit nauseous but on the whole it’s very good fun!

6. Need for Speed: High Stakes (or Need for Speed: Road Challenge)

nfs high stakes screenshot

No it’s not the sequel to V-Rally 2! I’m not the greatest fan of the Need for Speed games. I remember being bored by the first couple of instalments and then this came around.

Need for Speed: High Stakes (or Need for Speed: Road Challenge) encapsulates everything that’s good about the franchise. It’s fast. It has thrills. It has loss (you’ll need to play it to find out what I’m going on about there). It’s less arcade-y than its PS1 predecessors and the obvious understeer of the cars takes a little getting used to, but what a package.

5. Ridge Racer Type 4

ridge racer type 4 screenshot

Oh Ridge Racer, how I adore thee! Let me count the ways! RR is a PlayStation staple. If the PS1 racing games you own doesn’t have any Ridge Racer titles in it then you and me are gonna have a problem!

Ridge Racer Type 4 takes everything that’s good about its predecessors and whops an addictive career mode on it. The only thing that bugged me at the time was how similar everything looked and how the tracks all felt the same. Ten power drifts later and everything was okay! Definitely worth a look but please play it with analogue sticks.

4. Crash Team Racing

crash team racing ps1 screenshot

Let me be blunt here, Mario Kart is the greatest racing franchise out there. It pains me to say it (especially as a Sega boy) but it just is. But stupid Nintendo have hogged it all to themselves which has led to us seeking alternatives over the years.

Step up PlayStation mascot and just all-round hero Crash Bandicoot with Crash Team Racing (or CTR as it’s affectionately known as). There’s a reason it kept getting re-released and kept getting sequels, it’s a ridiculous amount of fun. And much has to be said for the uncomplicated tracks (again, very similar to Mario Kart) that allow you to focus on whooping your opponents’ behinds. It has its critics but it’s definitely one of my faves.

3. Gran Turismo

gran turismo screenshot

Admit it, you thought this was gonna be number one didn’t ya? Gran Turismo took driving simulation to another level. Rather than focus on thrills and spills, it was all about (pretty much) learning to drive and acquiring lots of lovely (digital) cars.

Gran Turismo 2 is undoubtedly better but its predecessor deserves to be in any PS1 racing games list for the sheer fact that this had never been seen before on console. And to tell you the truth, I’ve not been wowed by a GT game since GT2. One for purists, unlike my next selection…

2. Formula 1 ’97

Formula 1 97 screenshot

But it’s a Formula 1 game! Whaddya mean it’s not for purists!! Well my friend, let me tell you a quick story.

It’s the mid-90s in England and a boy with only the four channels to watch on the TV has absolutely nothing to watch on a Sunday. He’s trying to put off doing his homework and is almost hypnotically looping through the channels until… VRRROOOOOOMMMMM!!

And thus, my interest in F1 begun (it dissipated by the early 2000s but I won’t dwell on that). So I turned to 16-bit gems such as the Super Monaco series or Domark’s ‘F1’ but they just didn’t feel like it. Formula 1 ’97 was the second game I ever bought for the PS1 and it blew me away. Playing the championship mode was like being on the TV!! It was even voiced by the late great Murray Walker. What a joy! Until you actually started to try to drive like an F1 driver.

F1 ’97 takes its place here not just because of the realism of the championship mode/driving but the unbelievable arcade mode. As fun as Virtua Racing but a lot more forgiving, I spent hours on this mode alone. It was like having an arcade machine in my house (well, that was what the PS1 was about wasn’t it?)

1. Colin McRae Rally

Colin McRae Rally screenshot

And now after I’ve bored you with my F1 tale, the final pie in the face, number one in our PS1 racing games list. What else did you expect from someone growing up in Britain in the 80s/90s?

It seems dumb and unfair that a helicopter crash brought about the demise of quite likely the greatest rally driver Great Britain has ever produced. One of his lasting legacies is the Colin McRae rally series (which is now the successful DiRT franchise) which has beaten off stiff competition from the WRC games in recent years.

The first instalment is pure rally/arcade joy made better by the gradual learning curve and not being as unforgiving as other driving games on the console. This is the nearest thing the PS1 has to Sega Rally with the added bonus of having more cars and tracks.

Pay Colin a tribute and load this up as soon as you can.

****

Honourable mentions: all of the predecessors and successors of the games mentioned here, TOCA, Driver (is it a racing game?), Rollcage and NASCAR Rumble.

Dylan

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