The year 2013 is drawing to a close, and the all-important pine tree and Coca-Cola holiday is coming up, when all good Christians prepare with gifts and warm words for friends and loved ones, acquiring all that is needed by queuing shops for hours in a row, listening to the same carols over and over again… One of the gifts that gets little boys’ (of all ages) hearts racing are of course, racing games, a fresh breed of which are about to debut on a new generation of gaming consoles. So, this Christmas, not only will you be confronted with the task of sorting through the slew of new titles added to the genre, but you may also be faced with buying a new system to run them, as well. Both the PlayStation 4 (PS4) from Sony and Xbox One from Microsoft are set to arrive on store shelves next month, priced at $399/£349 and $499/£429 respectively, each with its own list of unique games, complimented by the common pool of titles. The Xbox One comes packing a BFG in the form of Forza Motorsport 5, a game that looks gorgeous, has a growing list of cool cars and is exclusive to the Microsoft system. The chances of it disappointing are slim, given its developers’ track record so far in the series – even their Test Drive Unlimited-inspired game, Horizon, turned out nice for what it is. The highlight game for gearheads on the PS4 is DriveClub, not Gran Turismo. Sony chose to develop the next game in its primary racing franchise, number six, for the current-gen PS3 platform, therefore depriving the devs of a lot of extra processing power that they would have had access to, had they developed for PS4. If what you’re looking for in 2013 is the next-gen Gran Turismo experience, we regret to inform you that you’ll have to wait an estimated 1-2 years for the seventh installment to come out. The upside of the above is that your old PS3 and Xbox 360 are still kept relevant this year – you can get Gran Turismo 6 for the former, and Grand Theft Auto 5, Need for Speed Rivals, Watchdogs and The Crew for both. There’s even an open-world Mad Max game coming out too. It really depends on how big a holidays’ bonus you got, how many kids it is divided by and how well they behaved throughout the year. If they didn’t behave, and you want them to know it, there’s always the sort-of new Nintendo Wii U that was released almost a year ago. It won’t be as pleasing a gift as one of the bigger consoles, but its lower official price of $299 may very well justify it – some sites offer a discount of around $30. In fact, it’s not as bad as the old Wii that was always hampered by its low specifications and the impact that had on the complexity (and visual appeal) of the games it was able to handle. Watchdogs will also make it to the Wii U, too. This new one has a unique controller with a built-in touchscreen along with the usual physical buttons – it’s a different experience, and now you are no longer limited to playing only Mario Kart-like driving games. A special version of Need for Speed Most Wanted is available, along with more traditional Wii titles, but since the new system is more powerful, it will be able to handle games that are more demanding in the future – the promising Project Cars (Community Assisted Racing Simulator) is one of them. Finally, if consoles are not really your style and you enjoy the freedom of PC, then you don’t have to wait around for one specific commercial title to launch. There is such a huge array of games to choose for, so PC gamers are in a state of perpetual-Christmas, if you will… You can go off-road in any number of ways, you can build a car (company) from scratch, or just drive around for the hell of it. If you have some modding skills going for you, though, you enter a world where you begin to play the kind of game you like/want, and not wish that X or Y developer had added Z feature, and spam the forums about it – if you don’t like it, chances are you can probably change it yourself if you just open a specific file in a basic text editor, and mess with or add more code, at your own risk, naturally… By Andrei Nedelea
Poll: Which do you prefer for your racing game needs?