Thirst for racing thrills whetted by this year's French celebration of the car, the Mondial de l'Automobile (September 29 - October 14)? Then check out our list of recommended racing games, from Gran Turismo 5 and Forza Horizon to Mario Kart and Enviro-Bear.
The Lamborghini Miura P400 in 'Gran Turismo 5' © All rights reserved - Sony Computer Entertainment
Gran Turismo series (PlayStation consoles)
First entry: Gran Turismo (1997, PlayStation One)
Latest entry: Gran Turismo 5 (2010, PlayStation 3)
Putting the PlayStation firmly on the map as far as car racing's concerned, Gran Turismo also gave Sony a six-year headstart against Microsoft, which lacked a true triple-A sim-style driving series until late in the Xbox cycle with Forza Motorsport. Although its ambitious scope, luxury marques and extensive soundtracks have now become part of the GT brand, so has the protracted development and oft-delayed release of excellent PS3 game Gran Turismo 5, made up for by frequent post-release updates.
See also: Codemasters' F1 series (2010 onwards), Ferrari Challenge.
Forza Motorsport series (Xbox consoles)
First entry: Forza Motorsport (2005, Xbox)
Latest entry: Forza Motorsport 4 (2011, Xbox 360)
Microsoft ended its dependency on the Activision-owned Project Gotham Racing by setting up its own Forza Motorsport series. Forza, like Gran Turismo before it, mixes real world vehicles with both arcade and simulation sensibilities, and it went from strength to strength, teaming up with TV program Top Gear for Forza 4. October 2012's Forza Horizon marks a bit of a departure, with new team Playground Games exploring go-anywhere open world racing, while regular studio Turn 10 is presumably hard at work on something for the next Xbox.
See also: Metropolis Street Racer, Project Gotham Racing series.
Forza Horizon's Aston Martin Virage, one of several pre-order perks ©All rights reserved - Playground Games / Microsoft
Mario Kart series (Nintendo consoles)
First entry: Super Mario Kart (1992, SNES / Super Famicom)
Latest entry: Mario Kart 7 (2011, 3DS)
The twenty-year-old Mario Kart series has become a gold standard for fun and accessible racing games, replacing recognizable real world cars with well-loved game character drivers. But be warned! For Mario Kart's devious power up system mean the tables can be turned in an instant and the best racers become masters of tracks, shortcuts, and red shell trickery.
See also: Diddy Kong Racing, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed, F1 Race Stars, Blur.
Burnout Paradise (360 PC PS3)
Paradise was already a departure from the established Burnout formula, swapping the much-loved Crash Mode for the easily roamable roads of Paradise City and its surrounds, generous add-on content, online multiplayer's extensive completion challenges -- and yes, Guns 'n' Roses "Paradise City" was the opening theme. The Burnout team moved over to rejuvenate the Need for Speed series, and its late October/early November Need for Speed: Most Wanted looks to be a good combination of both pedigrees.
See also: Flatout, Flatout 2, Crazy Taxi, Test Drive Unlimited, Reckless Getaway.
Project CARS (PC; PS3, 360 and Wii U versions announced)
Though it's a 2013 title in development at pro unit Slightly Mad Studios, Project CARS is part-funded by an active community of players. Those who stump up €10 or more are given immediate access to the regularly updated pre-release PC version, which already features over 30 real tracks and over 50 real cars, from mainstream muscle to niche exotica.
See also: Auto Club Revolution, GRID, GTR 2, RACE 07, rFactor, iRacing.
Richard Burns Rally (PC; also on PS2, Xbox)
The PC version of Richard Burns Rally lives on through a dedicated and passionate online community whose annual RSRBR updates mean this 2004 release is even now considered one of the best -- if not the best -- rally racing games available to date. Best of all, because of its age RBR will run well on older PCs and can be picked up for a modest price.
See also: Sega Rally, Dirt 2 & Dirt 3.
Smartphone selection for iOS and Android
A host of quality titles await those seeking racing thrills in portable form, from the high speed excitement of the Real Racing and Asphalt series to the wild jostling of the Real Racing games and Death Rally, and the enjoyably touchscreen-friendly Slingshot Racing (iOS only) and Draw Race 2. Bored of the norm? Then dip into Enviro-Bear, in which you are a bear driving a car, Parking Mania (iOS), which co-opts the dull task that all careful drivers face and turns it into a fun puzzler, or Burnout Crash (iOS), which is more pinball than it is driving diversion.
Bonus trivia: Did you know? Futuristic 1993 title Rock N' Roll Racing was one of the first original games developed by Silicon & Synapse, now better known as Blizzard Interactive, the studio behind World of Warcraft and Starcraft I & II.