5. Forza Horizon
The Forza series has traditionally distilled simulation-grade racing onto a console package replete with hundreds of cars, varied race locations, and challenging tracks to master. Forza Horizon… doesn’t. It’s a spinoff, an open-world racing game set during a fictional racing festival that awards points for daring maneuvers, sweet jumps, and near misses (or epic crashes). In short, it’s a Forza for the rest of us, keeping much of the series’ simulation cred while letting its hair down a bit. It encourages exploration, driving recklessly to best your friends’ records and simply enjoying the spectacle.
6. Wipeout 2048
Wipeout 2048 is as far removed from simulation racers as you can get without diving into pastel hues and go karts. The classic combat racing series has been revamped for Sony’s latest handheld console, but it’s still all about blistering, dizzying speed. You don’t drive so much as mash the accelerator and hold on for deal life, blithely swatting the air brakes in a vain attempt to correct your course. Munitions dot the track and give you the means to dole out a bit of punishment and slow down the rest of the pack. But do you spend those rockets taking a potshot at whoever’s in the lead, or recharging your precious shield energy, lest your next bad turn end the race for good?
7. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, iOS and PlayStation Vita
Here’s a shocker: a kart racing game starring non-Nintendo mascots that’s actually really good. Sure, it doesn’t make any sense—why does Sonic the Hedgehog need a car?—but great gameplay and a fair level of depth more than make up for the leaps in logic. Sonic will be facing off against characters from many of Sega’s franchises, including Crazy Taxi, Jet Set Radio, and… Football Manager. Winning events on the gorgeous tracks awards you with experience points to level up your driver of choice, and stars to unlock new characters and courses. It’s definitely not for racing fans looking for something serious, but if you’ve grown tired of Mario Kart, it’s well worth a look.