Racing games have been around for a very long time; but a lot has changed since the first extremely popular racing game, Pole Position, was release in 1982 by Namco. If you were to go by the video game standards in 1982, Pole Position was groundbreaking, offering color graphics and the best game play seen in arcades. Those touted graphics however, by today's standards, are extremely poor. But there are a couple of things that Pole Position introduced to the world of video games that are still included, namely the rear view racing style and qualifying pre-races.
While many of today's racing titles offer a rear view type of style, they are very much different from what was once know as the most successful racing video game (1983) in history. Having said that, we'll move on to the point as this is not a history lesson, but rather some of the basic tips and game play methods you can apply to become better at any racing game, regardless of platform.
Racing Games Have Changed, but the Overall Concept is the Same
As technology has advanced, it has introduced true to life graphics, exceptional game play physics, and a much, much more realistic batch of racing games. In today's games there are hundreds of variables to consider while trying to gain the advantage - but one thing has remained the same - make it to the finish line first, or beat the clock to win! This applies to almost any racer you get your hands on, with the notable exception of battle racers (racing games that have game play modes where weapons are used to defeat your opponent).
Making it to the finish line first is almost always the solution to winning in a race, whether your opponent is the computer, a real person, or the clock. But such is not the case all of the time, newer games have also implemented other factors, such as style, car performance, and overall racing tactics, such as sliding around corners or drifting. This is the most basic of racing guides we will have, so to keep it simple, we will focus mainly on general tips to help you make it to the checkered flag first, and only touch on some of the other factors.
Knowing How To Handle Your Car Is the Key to Victory
It may seem like a no-brainer, but becoming familiar with the controls within the racing game you are playing is probably the most important aspect of becoming the best you can be. The different consoles on the market today have similar, but different controllers, and to make matters worse, there are no set standards on what button or trigger should perform what action (gas, brake, boost, steer, etc.). Additionally, each game offers their own unique set of options, so knowing them and tweaking them to your advantage is a must to get the gold medal.
The easiest way to become acquainted with the control setup is to read the game manual, and then play the game. If the game offers options in regards to changing the layout of the controller, be sure to choose, or set it at something you are comfortable or familiar with. To a point, console games have begun emulating previous titles with controller setups that gamers appeal to. A prime example of this is Project Gotham Racing (PGR) on the Xbox, a game that was released as a launch title when the Xbox was introduced to the video game market. Developer Bizarre Creations decided to use the right trigger as gas, the left trigger as brake, and the 'A' button as an emergency brake (e-brake). Since then, most racing games on the Xbox console follow this format, but as with everything there are exceptions.
Control Is Important - So Use a Comfortable Controller
Every gamer is different; some have small hands while others have big hands, some prefer the directional pad while others prefer to use the analog stick, and some prefer to ditch standard controllers and use a racing wheel. The only person that knows what controller will be the best for you, is YOU. Each console comes with a standard controller, but there is a huge business in third party console accessories, including controllers. Chances are you can find one that fits your needs perfectly, it may just take some trial and error. Try different controllers while at a friend's house, or in a video game store. One thing I really recommend however is to not be too quick to say 'this will not work for me.' A lot of times it's simply a matter of 'getting used' to the controller. You may also be the type of gamer that either plays better, or enjoys a racing game more, when played with a racing wheel.