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The best sim racing games for 2017

The best sim racing games for 2017 Classic and Performance Car

Sometimes it's good to blow off a little steam on your favourite racing sim game. Here's our list of the best available to buy and race right now 


Sometimes it's good to blow off a little steam on your favourite racing sim game. Here's our list of the best available to buy and race right now.
 
Ogling the classified listings is all well and good, but some of the beautiful machinery for sale can sometimes be just a touch out of financial reach for many of us. Even if you can afford them, taking them on track will result in costs spiralling further out of control: consumables will need replacing, mechanical parts might fail, and of course there’s always the risk of denting something more tangible than your pride…
 
Fortunately, whether the aim is to get some practice in before a track event, or simply to blast around exotic locations in cars you’ll never be able to afford, there is almost certainly a perfect racing sim out there for you.
 
Racing sims have come a long way in a very short space of time, with computing power and accessories like force feedback racing wheels coming cheaper than ever, although it can be just as easy to spend a lot of money buying the latest simulator kit. 
 
The last few months of 2017 are perhaps the most exciting in a long time for fans of the genre, with a new Forza, Project cars and Gran Turismo instalment all arriving within a month of each other. 

Forza Motorsport 7


Forza Motorsport 7

While Gran Turismo’s car list shrinks with every instalment, Forza’s grows ever longer – now boasting over 700 for this latest version. And it will only get longer with the inevitable DLC packs. The seventh incarnation is actually the third to be launched on the Xbox One, and as you might expect is more of a gentle evolution from the previous game. 
 
And that is no bad thing. Forza has a loyal fanbase, and it has always found appeal from a wide range of gamers. As with previous versions, classic enthusiasts are well catered-for, including icons such as Lotus Cortina, Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale and DB4 GT Zagato. The focus is on modern supercars and racing machinery, although there’s still a good selection of 1980s and 1990s hatchbacks! 
 
Forza has always worked well for those using a gamepad, although this version is said to have been optimised for use with the latest Fanatec racing wheels to, for the more hardcore racers wanting a full setup. Although some of the edginess has been taken away from the physics engine, it’s still a challenge with all of the assists switched off.

Buy Forza Motorsport 7 on XBox One on Amazon.co.uk

Project CARS 2 


Project CARS 2

There are more accessible racing games and there are more realistic simulators, but Project Cars 2 walks a tightrope line between the two well enough to attract and retain folks from either camp. In that respect, it’s a better effort than the first game, largely thanks to a more accurate handling model that allows you to exploit a wonderfully diverse collection of vehicles better than ever before. 
 
The graphics are stunning and the immersion impressive – though like the original game, a regular gamepad and TV setup isn’t ideal; there’s no better way to experience it than with a wheel, pedals, and set of VR goggles.
 
Buy Project CARS 2 from Amazon.co.uk – PS4 | Xbox One | PC

 

Gran Turismo Sport


Gran Turismo Sport

Has it been worth the wait? The first GT game of the PS4 generation launches later this month, offering significantly different gameplay to any GT game that has come before. The number of cars will be significantly smaller, while the depth and breadth of online racing is set to be greater than ever. 
 
Perhaps the most exciting aspect for wannabe racing drivers will be the inclusion of an FIA sanctioned online race series – which promises to blur the line between gaming and reality.
 
Of course, there will be some intriguing functions available for those with PSVR headset. Check back for more details on GT Sport later in the month (18 October) when we’ve had a chance to test it out in its finished form. 
 
 

Assetto Corsa


Assetto Corsa
 
 
Unlike a few of the games here, a lack of immersion is a criticism that could never be levelled at Assetto Corsa. The graphics are among the most beautiful here, and the handling feels so detailed and rewarding that even simple time trials can become utterly addictive. 
 
The game is backed up by a widespread and active community, with many users developing their own mods – including new cars – to improve the range of choice for others. It’s hard to find a game which, in terms of pure handling realism and enjoyment, can top it.

Buy Assetto Corsa from Amazon.co.uk - PS4 | Xbox One

RFactor


 
The way the cars – be they stock cars, GT machinery or one of the wide range of single seaters – behave feels completely authentic. The steering deserves particular praise: the rate of response and the feedback it provides makes it among the most detailed setup on the market. 
 
And then there’s the AI. More than any other sim racer here, computer opponents behave so naturally that you’ll start to wonder whether or not you’re playing online against human opponents. The bots alter their racing lines to defend their lead, they avoid collisions with other competitors and on occasion even make very human errors. 

Buy RFactor on PC from Amazon.co.uk

iRacing


iRacing
 
Much like RFactor, iRacing majors on incredible realism for its thrills. And, just like RFactor, it is both endorsed and used by many professional outfits to train their drivers.
 
If you’re a casual gamer, there is little point in reading what we have to say about iRacing - it’s so full-on that this really isn’t the title for you. iRacing, more than any other here, can be considered a true simulator for those looking to hone their real-world track driving skills. 
 
Scrolling through the intro menus and setup screens might seem bewildering at first, and a wheel is an absolute must. Get beyond these minor hurdles, and whether you’re a trackday driver looking to brush up your technique or a fully-fledged pro making minute setup tweaks within the safety of your own home, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better title.
 

Dirt Rally


Dirt Rally

Striking a balance between realism and fun is something which so many mainstream racing sims struggle to achieve. More than any other tile on sale today, Dirt Rally gets it right.  
 
Whether slithering a Mk2 Escort through a Finnish forest stage, or winding the latest Ford Fiesta WRC through some twisty Greek terrain, it feels incredibly authentic and utterly engrossing. In addition to traditional WRC-style stages, there’s a few RallyX tracks and the Pikes Peak Hillclimb thrown in for good measure.
 
We can pay it no higher compliment than to say it’s quite possibly the best rally sim – and indeed raging game in general – since Colin McRae Rally 2.0. And if all that isn’t enough, you can drive a Peugeot 306 Maxi. Time to channel your inner Panizzi.

Buy Dirt Rally from Amazon.co.uk - PS4 | Xbox One | PC
 

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