I’ll be honest, there aren’t many racing games I actually like. 9 times out of 10, whenever I test a car racing game – particularly a free one – I’m completely let down by how ridiculously unrealistic either the graphics are, the physics are, or the how difficult it is to keep the stupid car on the road. Game makers should understand that most of us aren’t sitting here hold a steering wheel. We’re trying to steer this simulated race car hurtling at 200 mph with a couple of left-and-right keyboard keys. Think about it.
Then again, the racing games I have found that I do like, I like a lot. You usually have to turn to commercial games for the best of these. I played the entire series of Need for Speed on PlayStation and couldn’t get enough. Of course, we all love racing games here at MUO. We’ve covered Nitro for Android, Chris covered the ultra-cool Driving Speed 2, Tim covered Real Racing 3 for mobile devices, and Simon covered Project Torque if you like online games.
It would seem like there’s enough to go around several times over, right? Well, I thought so too, until I came across a couple of racing games I hadn’t spotted on SourceForge before. They’re both well rated by the user base there, and they both promised to offer realistic physics engines that make it feel like you’re really racing a sweet ride in the case of X Speed Race, and an insanely fast race car in the motorsport racing sim called Speed Dreams.
Racing Faster Than You Can Handle
Neither of these are games where you’re going to want to pin the gas pedal to the floor (or the up arrow if you want to get technical). The top speed of the cars in X Speed Race are much faster than you’re going to want to try and drive on the courses in this game, unless you have a death wish.
X Speed Race
As with most decent racing games, you have the choice between a line of sweet looking cars.
Unlike commercial games, you start out in X Speed Race with access to all of them. That means you can completely overpower and dominate the competition in lower levels by picking a ridiculous power-house vehicle like a Lamborghini. This is of course exactly what I did.
When you start a new race, you get to choose what class of vehicles you want to race against, the number of your AI opponents, and the number of laps for the race.
Next, you can pick from a selection of 6 courses that include varying difficulties, different scenery, and different times of the day.
For my first race, I tried putting the pedal to the medal, and crashed several times before realizing that the game creators were not kidding when they said the physics would be realistic. Run into a sharp curve at 200 miles per hour, you’re going to plow into the guard rail, and there’s no getting around it.
However, hit the brakes early on like you would in real life, spin the wheel and as you round the curve, slam on the gas again, and you’ve just gripped the curve as good as any race car driver out there – and this game holds true to those driving rules. If you can master the sharp curves, you have this game licked.
Once I got the hang of the curves driving this insane sports car that could hit over 200 mph, I jumped ahead of the pack, and by the end of the game I was able to lap most of them.
Not that that’s really anything to be proud of when the car I’m driving is about five times more powerful than anything the competition is using. To make the game more fair, I went back to the main menu, chose to race against a higher class of cars, and also chose the night-time track. Within seconds, I realized this was my favorite course, and if I wasn’t careful, I’d end up playing this game all night.
Beating your opponents around the curves isn’t quite so easy when they’re driving a car as powerful as yours. And when you start choosing courses with hairpin turns lined up one after the other, you’re going to have to have extreme focus and understand the physics of driving to make it through the course not only faster than the competition, but hopefully with your car in one piece.
Speed Dreams is one of those games that you’ll want to play if you’ve ever longed to experience what it’s like for motorsport drivers. In this game, you’re sitting behind the wheel of one of the most powerful race cars you’ll ever drive, on a track that’s meant to test your ability to accelerate, brake on a dime, and steer around curves without sliding into the dirt and slamming into the wall.
When you get started, you can choose what level you want to play, and choose auto or manual transmission.
Of course, you can set sound and graphics to suit your needs, and most importantly you’ll want to click on AI Opponents, and make sure they’re racing at a skill with which you’re comfortable.
Since I was just getting started, I lowered them from “pro” to “semi-pro”, thinking that I could easily take on a “semi-pro” driver on the track!
The simulator puts you in what seems like the center of the front seat. What was crazy for me was once I hit the up arrow (acceleration), the car went absolutely berserk on me. That’s because I didn’t realize that you don’t steer with the left or right arrows, you steer by moving your mouse from left to right. It takes some getting used to, but once you do it for a while, it actually feels quite natural.
So, once I finally figured that out, I restarted and put myself in an actual race. The simulator screen shows you your rearview mirror, the track with you and opponents on it, and a list of the players you’re going up against in the upper left corner of the screen.
Speed and RPMs are at the bottom, as well as your fuel gauges. Hit the gas pedal and your car will roar to life with more power than you’ve ever experienced in your life. Seriously, this thing sounds like a jet engine, and when you start reaching high speeds, you can hear the wind – a very nice touch.
Beating the competition in this game is quite difficult. If you’ve played other racing games out there, you’ll have to fight the urge to just peg the gas and go as fast as you can to pass the other cars on straight stretches. The odds are that you won’t see the upcoming curve in time and will either crash right into a wall, or you’ll slam the brakes, overcompensate, and go into a death spin.
Which is exactly what happened to me several times.
These two free racing games are similar in that you really have to practice more control and driving skill than in most other games. The good news is that unlike the poorly made racing games out there, it’s actually possible to keep these cars on the road without too much effort. The hard part is not going crazy with speed and losing control of the vehicle because you got overzealous.
These are two games you’ll love to play if you’re a racing aficionado. Give them a shot and let us know what you think. Do you like the physics engines? Do you know any other games with great driving physics? Share your feedback and opinions in the comments section below.