The 10 Best PS2 Racing Games
VOICE OVER: Ty Richardson
WRITTEN BY: Ty Richardson
If you were a racing fan with a PS2, you had some stellar games to choose from! For this list, we'll be looking at the very best racers from Sony's second console. Our list includes “Gran Turismo 4” (2004), “Road Trip Adventure” (2002), “Jak X Combat Racing” (2005), and more!
Script written by Ty Richardson
Welcome to MojoPlays, and today, we’re taking a look at the 10 Best PlayStation 2 Racing Games! Which racing game did you play most on PS2? Did it make the list? Let us know down in the comments.
“Jak X Combat Racing” (2005)
With Naughty Dog having pulled off a successful racing game already with 1999’s “Crash Team Racing”, a “Jak & Daxter” racing game didn’t sound too far-fetched. Still, “Jak X Combat Racing” wasn’t what we were expecting… in a good way, we mean. What you had was this fusion between arcade racing and vehicular combat, as you picked up power-ups to activate weaponry, refill your boost, and more. Plus, you had an assortment of characters from across the franchise’s history between the first game and “Jak 3”. An excellent way to cap off Jak and Daxter’s days on the PS2!
At launch, some outlets had criticized “Juiced” for being “too repetitive.” Isn’t repetitiveness a part of a video game’s DNA from the get go? We’d argue it works in favor of a game like “Juiced”. All you need is a good set of controls that make every car handle like a dream and a kickass soundtrack to jam to as you burn rubber. “Juiced” also provided enough customization options to allow for all sorts of ways to make your cars look the way you want. At the end of the day, what we got was a solid and competent arcade racer to zone out and tear the roads with.
“ATV Offroad Fury 2” (2002)
Back in the days of the sixth generation of console gaming, it felt like off-road raing games were a dime a dozen. However, the one that truly stands out even today is “ATV Offroad Fury 2”. Here, nabbing first place was easier said than done as you would have to adjust your position while in the air to nail landings and maintain your speed. There was more of a reliance on the game’s physics, not just going fast all the time. Regardless of whether you’re deep into the world of off-road racing or not, “ATV Offroad Fury 2” is a brilliant racing game to play. And this is coming from someone who really did not care much for ATVs before playing this.
“Road Trip Adventure” (2002)
Those itching for a racing adventure similar to what we saw in games like “Crash Team Racing” and “Diddy Kong Racing” found solace here. “Road Trip Adventure” was one of the wackiest racing games we had come across back in the PS2 days, with its ridiculous plot and cartoony visuals. Taking part in races wasn’t the only thing you had to worry about, though. You had to use your winnings to buy new parts and sometimes spend it on buildings to improve and populate your city. Yes, there were city management aspects to this game! It was such an interesting blend of genres at the time, and it’s a real shame that the game was only ever re-released in 2012 on PS3 in Europe ONLY.
“Lego Racers 2” (2001)
Whereas the original “Lego Racers” game was more of your standard racing game fare, “Lego Racers 2” attempted to take things a step further. This sequel widened the road for players by allowing them to fully explore the world, giving them different characters to talk to, different landmarks to discover, and so on. And just to diversify the gameplay, there was an assortment of minigames to take part in between the races. Visually, it isn’t all that impressive, yet it was still enough to satisfy any kid who enjoyed Legos or racing.
“Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition Remix” (2006)
“Midnight Club 3” was already an excellent arcade racer with its astoundingly detailed vehicles and environments, fantastic track design, and controls. So, why is the “Remix” getting specific recognition? Simply because of how it was an expanded version of the original. You had more vehicles to choose from, many of which were not in the original release. Then, you had more maps to race and battle on, including the classic Tokyo map from “Midnight Club II”. And of course, that soundtrack got even more awesome songs to race to… absolutely phenomenal. This is why many of us long for the day Rockstar returns to the “Midnight Club” series, but we suppose it lives on sort of in the form of “GTA Online”.
“Splashdown: Rides Gone Wild” (2003)
Admittedly, “Splashdown” is the strangest entry we have on this list. Not because it’s a jetski racing game, but rather it’s the presentation. Can you think of any other jetski game or racing game that has you racing down a river next to dinosaurs or barreling through a tropical island before it turns into a warzone? It had an explosive and infectious personality unlike anything we had seen from the genre, and quite frankly, it is sorely missed. What hurts most was that there was going to be a sequel on Xbox until developer Rainbow Studios got busy with “MX Unleashed”. (Those guys are still making “MX vs. ATV” games, by the way!)
“Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2” (2002)
It was hard deciding on which “Need for Speed” game to put on here. The “Underground” games were so great with their presentation and selection of imported cars. However, “Hot Pursuit 2” still gets to us today, and it’s all because of that focus on high-speed chases. There is so much excitement in trying to outrun the law or playing as the man and calling up hazards like spike strips to make runners crash and burn. And those two different styles of play are what give “Hot Pursuit 2” so much replay value, especially when you have someone to play with.
“Gran Turismo 4” (2004)
“Gran Turismo 4” is not just the best game in the franchise, but it’s possibly the best racing game put out by Sony’s first-party studios (with the exception of “Crash Team Racing”). No portion of the PS2’s hardware was wasted here as vehicles and courses were designed with immense detail and presentation. This, alongside the controls and mechanics, allowed “Gran Turismo 4” to reach a level of realism unmatched by many racing sims at the time. If you didn’t think Polyphony Digital or director Kazunori Yamauchi were racing fans before, they certainly made it obvious here with the various motor sports and cars represented in fine visual quality.
“Burnout 3: Takedown” (2004)
Now, if you wanna get down to the absolute best racing game on PlayStation 2, it begins and ends with “Burnout”, more specifically “Burnout 3: Takedown”. “Burnout 3” was pure adrenaline as you boosted your way down courses while wrecking your opponents in humiliating ways. There was a power fantasy behind dominating the roads while also forcing players to think about parts of the track where they can send rivals flying into obstacles. You could even get points if you getting wrecked caused other players to wreck! The mayhem had no limits here, and that’s why “Burnout 3: Takedown” remains the best in the franchise and one of the best on PlayStation 2. We’ll love “Revenge”, too, though.