Almost any schoolboy of my generation did it. Before the days of XBOX Live and PlayStation Plus, I would come home from school, rush my homework, and get straight onto my PS2. Then, at school the next day, me and my friends would catch up with our progress on all the latest games.
Racing games were my jam, but there were some I played more than others. Here is a list of my top five favourites…
5 – Need For Speed Most Wanted
My favourite of all the Need For Speed PS2 games. In fact, even to this day this game still has the best police pursuits in the series in my opinion. I’ll never forget when my dad’s work colleague gave me his old PS2 memory card and it still had a 100% save file of the game on there. Most Wanted was a very hard game for 8-year-old me and I was never able to complete it. Therefore, to have the chance to drive the Lamborghinis, Vipers and other supercars I couldn’t unlock gave me even more enjoyment out of a brilliant game.
4 – TOCA Race Driver 2
This game was so good that it even had my dad (who never plays games) hooked for a while! The thing I loved most about TOCA Race Driver 2 was that it made you feel like you were in a proper racing career. The cutscenes, although cheesy, helped provide some context to your championships as you looked to make it to Team Shark. The game also introduced me to series including DTM and V8 Supercars, and the variety in general was something we don’t see enough of today.
3 – NASCAR 06: Total Team Control
I’ve talked about this game before when discussing how I came to be a NASCAR fan. What I didn’t mention there is that I actually first played it at my best friend’s house. He didn’t really know what NASCAR was, but he liked the look of the game and my goodness was it fun to play in split-screen! What I loved, and I’m sure many others enjoyed, was picking Dale Jarrett’s hidden UPS truck that was available as an unlock. The truck was indestructible, so I would pick the shortest track on the game, and go backwards to try and destroy as many cars as possible. It really was tremendous fun!
2 – Burnout Revenge
The Burnout series as a whole is my favourite gaming series of all time. I was very close to putting Revenge at number 1, but it has to settle for second place. Apart from all the dramatic takedowns and the ingenious Crash Mode, one thing I loved about Revenge was its soundtrack. The game introduced me to bands like Fall Out Boy, The All American Rejects and Bloc Party, and I still have much of this soundtrack on my Spotify playlist. The main series sadly no longer exists, but I would do anything for a HD remake of this game in the future. Make it happen!
1 – Gran Turismo 4
Gran Turismo 4. What a game. It sparked a fierce competition between myself and two of my primary school friends. Every morning before lessons started, the three of us would discuss our progress from last night and who had completed more of the game. Two of us would eventually give up around the 60% mark, but one of my friends kept going, even leaving his PS2 on overnight in order to complete the Le Mans 24 Hours! With over 700 cars to choose from, this game never got boring, and with Top Gear on the rise, it sparked a number of challenges inspired by the programme. Simply put, it is the best PS2 racing game of all time.