It's almost that time of the year again, and there's another hectic fall season of games just around the corner. For the shooter fan, this is great news considering there's a whole slew coming out just as there is every year. One big feature of this year however, is the unreal amount of high calibur racing titles coming out at once all around the same time.
For the average racing fan this is huge news, especially considering there are usually only one or two big titles released in a single year. This is definitely a number that's too few for fans of the genre and this year is shaping up to be an early Christmas present. Not only are three of the largest franchises in racing games featuring at the same time, but there are a slew of other top notch racers joining in the fray for your dollars this year's end.
DiRT 2 (Codemasters, Sept.8 - PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
The first of the hotly anticipated titles is DiRT 2. DiRT was extremely impressive, and Codemasters are looking to improve on the formula. Using double the polygon count on all the vehicles and more fine tuned physics and damage, DiRT 2 is looking to be a gorgeous, edge of your seat rally racer, with modes set to please arcade and sim racers alike. Not to mention improvements on the less than desired number of online modes last time around. This time DiRT 2 is looking to add some actual on-track competition in its online play. This will hopefully keep players coming back again and again. Codemasters Event Preview: DiRT 2 Set To Be A Visceral Experience
Need For Speed: Shift (EA, Sept.15 - PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
EA are at it again with another iteration of their popular franchise, Need for Speed. This time it appears on next-generation consoles under the name of Shift. There is also a version appearing on the Wii and DS called Nitro, but we will focus on Shift. This time around the game is set as a more simulation style racing game. The last time simulation was attempted in the series, it resulted in Pro Street which was an average game, but in no way like a sim racing experience. However, EA have gone on the record and stated that this will be a truly simulation based racing game. All of the games in the series have usually been pretty good, so this will definitely be one to watch upon its release in September.
Motorstorm: Arctic Edge (SCEA, Sept.29 - Sony PSP, PlayStation 2)
The high action Motorstorm franchise is looking to make it's mark on the PSP this year with Arctic Edge. Set as a snowy version of the classic console counterparts, Arctic Edge is adding a new vehicle class to the arcade racing mix, snowmobiles. Under production from Bigbig Studios, famous for the Pursuit force series, Sony could not have picked a better developer to take the high octane action to the portable. The game will also be making an appearance on the PlayStation 2.
Gran Turismo Portable (SCEA, Oct.1 - Sony PSP)
Polyphony Digital are setting their sights on bringing what is most likely the biggest sim racing franchise onto the PSP this year. It will boast 35 different tracks and will have over 800 vehicles to collect with a new trading system that is being introduced. Not only is this looking to be the best looking PSP game, but it also looks to take the title for its sheer size. Impressions at E3 were just astounding. It's really unbelievable how similar it is to its PS2 counterpart Gran Turismo 4.
Forza Motorsport 3 (Microsoft Game Studios, Oct.27 - Xbox 360)
For the second time this generation, we will be seeing a Forza Motorsport game. Turn 10 has proven that there can be competition in the sim racing genre with this great title and they are looking to cement their position within the industry with Forza Motorsport 3. Forza has challenged sim games on consoles to do more than they have before, with features such as simulated damage and aggressive AI that makes for a more lively racing experience opposed to what was previously offered in the genre.
Blur (Activision, Nov. 3 - PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
One of the later titles coming out this year, Bizarre Creations are working on their newest game, Blur. A little different from the standard Project Gotham Racing titles that established Bizzare's name, this title is more of an arcade style battle racing game. One notable subject of this game is it actually uses licensed vehicles which is pretty rare considering they get completely destroyed. From impressions of the earlier build at E3, Blur is looking to be shaping up as a pretty great combat oriented racer. It's a cross between Need for Speed and Mario Kart and it will definitely offer a new kind of experience.
Gran Turismo 5 (SCEA, TBA - PlayStation 3)
Not content with releasing the ultimate driving simulator on the PSP, Polyphony Digital are looking to do the same on the PlayStation 3 as well. While there is no release date set in stone, speculation suggests that it will be released this year. It's been heavily rumoured and reported that the game may already done and that it's just waiting for Sony to set a date for it. Seeing two new Gran Turismo titles in the same year will most likely be a racer overload of bliss if the rumours are true. It will feature a very basic damage model, and it's unsure if this will satisfy the cries for such a feature, but everything else in the game is looking to be definitive. So it's pretty clear to see that fans of the genre are going to be in racing heaven this year. With so much to look forward to it's a good idea to throw in a little warning here. Start saving now, as it there is a plethora of racing games that will be worthy of your time and wallet.