For those of us who love cars, driving games offer something we often can't get in the real world: the ability to get our hands on the latest and greatest supercars and racing cars to see how they handle on a racetrack. That's the job of Gran Turismo 6, the best driving simulator out there, and other sims like WRC4 and F1 2013 for motorsport fans.
Of course, not all driving and racing games are simulations, and in fact most racing games are much more focused on fun - with games like Joe Danger and Need ford Speed: Rivals for a spot of fun when you've got some time to kill. Of course, there are driving games that have a lot more going on, like GTA V, which has a huge open world to explore and an epic story to discover.
We've played some of the top racing and driving games available now, and you can read about them below.
Gran Turismo 6
Price: £39.99 - Available for: PlayStation 3
There are 120 new models among the 1,200 cars in this latest version of the famous Gran Turismo franchise, plus never-before-featured circuits, including Silverstone. It’s more realistic than ever, challenging most gamers, although the fun won’t stop even if you struggle to get to grips with it. Gran Turismo 6 is one of the top driving games ever made.
Need for Speed: Rivals
Price: £44.99 - Available for: PC, Xbox One/360, PS3/4
Cops and robbers is much more fun when you’re racing supercars instead of saloons. NFS: Rivals now includes Ferrari models, as well as a feature which makes it easier to flick from single player mode to online multiplayer, although there’s no split-screen multiplayer. Great graphics, a huge environment and lifelike weather mark Rivals out as something special, but it’s still an arcade game, with slightly unrealistic handling and no cockpit view.
Mario Kart 8
Price: £49.99 - Available for: Wii U
Mario Kart 8 follows the successful formula of previous games, but adds various new elements, plus action in full HD.
The game adds new tracks, courses and gameplay elements to improve on the top-selling Wii version that preceded it, although there are no major changes for the Wii U.
The action-packed title is everything you expect from a Mario Kart game. Don’t take it too seriously and it’s addictive fun for hours on end.
Grand Theft Auto V
Price: £49.99 - Available for: Xbox 360, PS3
Focus on the driving, rather than the controversy and violence, and Grand Theft Auto V is brilliant. There are loads of vehicles to choose from, and you can drive across incredibly detailed and varied landscapes. Handling is easier to pick up than in GTA IV, and the three main characters have their own driving ability – so the more you drive with them, the better you get.
• Full GTA V review
Price: £39.99 - Available for: PS3, Xbox 360, PC, PS Vita
The official game for the World Rally Championship is incredibly immersive – with official cars, drivers and stages. You can race three others in the same room, and 16 can play online. In career mode, you start in Junior WRC and work your way up to the top. The graphics are great, yet the sound is unrealistic. If you own WRC 3 already, there’s no real reason to upgrade, but rally fans will play for ages.
Price: £49.99 (standard edition), £57.99 (Classic edition) - Available for: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
The latest official F1 game has incredible graphics and is very realistic - even though it's a bit out of date with this season's rule changes. As in F1 2012, there are plenty of difficulty settings and multiplayer modes, but you can now save games mid-way and drive classic races. The standard game has Brands Hatch and Jerez with eighties’ cars and drivers; Classic adds nineties’ content.
This game offers players a range of ‘fictional’ sports cars (that look eerily like Astons, Lamborghinis and Paganis) to drive. It resembles an automotive version of the never-ending Temple Run game, and you collect coins and dodge police cars in order to set a high score, plus use boosts to progress further. It’s addictive, great fun and the crashes are spectacular.
Colin McRae Rally
Price: £2.99 - Available for: iPhone, iPad
We loved this game when it launched on the PlayStation 1 in 1998, and it’s now made its way on to iOS devices. There are touch or tilt controls, 30 stages across three countries and four cars. It’s tricky to master, but brilliant fun. It’s realistic, too, from the sponsors’ car graphics to the damage when you inevitably crash. even the engine sounds and pace notes are spot-on.
Price: £1.99 - Available for: iPhone, iPad (reviewed)/PS3, PC, Xbox 360 (not reviewed)
Duck, jump, flip and wheelie your way to victory in this fun motorcycle stunt game. There are bonuses to pick up, rivals to beat and obstacles to dodge along the way, too. You complete challenges to win points, which you can use to buy new characters in the game. Levels are quite short, but it’s fun, with enough tournaments to keep you occupied for a long time – all for only £1.99.
Sports Car Challenge
This racing game caters for lovers of VW Group vehicles – you can race detailed cars from audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche and VW. There are three game modes – slalom, a brake test or a time trial – and four circuits to choose from, including the Shanghai F1 track. It’s challenging, and we love the stats and interior views you can check on before you go racing.
NASCAR The Game: Inside Line
Price: £36.29 - Available for: PC
Become a NASCAR champion in this download for PC. You can choose from 43 drivers and their respective teams, or create your own. It’s good fun, with some tracks more challenging than others, and you can draft and bump your way to victory. There’s also a multiplayer online mode. The graphics are great and there are lots of camera angles.
Instead of racing cars, you park them in this great free game for mobiles. the controls are simple – turn the steering wheel and drag the accelerator up or down – but you’ll get frustrated at how difficult it is to squeeze into a space at a reasonable speed without crashing at least once. still a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ rule keeps it competitive, and there are plenty of skill levels.