DIRT 5 strips away the more serious elements of the franchise and puts all its eggs in one, arcade cabinet shaped, basket. At times a riot, in other areas a little repetitive and lacking in finesse, it nevertheless delivers on the concept of an adrenaline-fueled off-road racer. It's a game that makes you sit forward in your seat and savour the joys of jumping a Dakar Rally Peugeot 3008 over a ravine.
Monster Truck Championship bravely tries something new and very nearly succeeds. The movement of the trucks is difficult at first, yet ultimately rewarding, but what's built around the driving is sparse and unimaginative. I could see this developing into a fun sequel that rewards patience, but this first effort is a little rough around the edges.
Motorcycle fans will gorge themselves on Ride 4's 250+ obsessively detailed motorcycles and one of the best track lists to be found in a modern racing game, but the pizzaz needed to keep playing is sadly missing and the career gameplay can be duller than counting your own eyebrow hairs.
Project CARS 3 suffers from a case of mistaken identity. Once you adjust to the new direction, you can get into a fun flow of ticking off objectives, drifting around hairpins and purchasing upgrades. However, while the series' existing platform means you get a great variety of circuits, cars and weather conditions, it also shackles this game from being a great arcade racing experience.
Fast & Furious Crossroads is a melting pot of ideas, none of which have had time to mature. Poor vehicle handling, weird pacing, unloved online multiplayer, inconsistent visuals, the list goes on. All of those Facebook comments lambasting the trailer for 'PS2-era graphics' are wide of the mark. It's PS2-era physics, dialogue and level design too.
Including all of the NASCAR license must be a mammoth task, and while Heat 5 is an improvement over its forbearers, the overall feeling of the game is that of a vacuous slog. With no obvious USP other than the volume of cars and tracks, or magic new features that other racing games should take inspiration from, NASCAR Heat 5 is a perfunctory depiction that's enjoyable in small doses but runs out of tyres once you get past the initial stages.
With a career mode lacking in substance, strange bugs and a limited set of content, Assetto Corsa Competizione is hard to recommend. Perhaps in 2021, with a slew of patches and DLC expansions it will be in a better place, but for now, Assetto Corsa Competizione is a superlative solo driving experience trapped in a flawed video game.
Monster Energy Supercross 3 is an enjoyable way of spending an hour or two, but a lack of significant progress combined with a fairly ordinary career structure, uninspiring user-created tracks and rocky online performance means that you won't be running home from school desperate to play the next level.
GRID is an enjoyable racing game for those who want to enjoy some close racing without worrying about camber angles. The market needs games like this to provide light and shade. I was hoping this new GRID would be a fresh start, but it's a last night's takeaway re-heated. I enjoy leftovers – cold pizza is one of life's great pleasures – but that doesn't make the perfect racing game when the rest of the world has moved on.
While F1 2019 adds features from the all-time bucket list of many an F1 fan, these new additions aren't quite fully formed yet. This still managed to be the best Formula 1 game by Codemasters to date – the handling of the F2 cars and new online modes are genre defining – but there is always scope for further improvements and some areas are now beginning to feel a little stale. Video gamers can be so demanding sometimes.
MotoGP 19 is far and away the best MotoGP game by Milestone to date and a marked improvement over recent versions. A few glitches take you out of the moment, and there is a need for some special seasoning sprinkled on the top to really make this a truly great racing title, but for fans of the sport, they now have a video game that better represents the action-packed real-life on-track action.
Monster Energy AMA Supercross 2 FIM World Championship - The Official Videogame, to give it the full name on the box, is a step forward from the previous incarnation. It takes elements from other Milestone games such as the improved visuals and track deformation, adds a few unique features of its own and provides a perfectly acceptable dirt racing game experience. But, in a world where acceptable isn't quite good enough, I wish more developers dipped their toes into the bike racing arena to really push Milestone to another level. MEAS2FWCTOVG is solid but uninspiring.
You can skip through the video elements, using R1 for the ‘Clarkson button' and L1 for the ‘James May button'. When you press either, you can hear a little catchphrase from each presenter. So, if you are skipping forward, Clarkson portentously shouts “Come on” or “Hurry up”, whereas while rewinding, May proclaims “Now, wait a minute”. A little nod to each on-show persona. If you've not seen episodes of The Grand Tour, especially if you don't have Amazon Prime, this is a great way to watch the highlights.
The performance of the bikes and uninspiring career structure mean that the game quickly becomes a grind. In the first hour or so of gameplay, you are overwhelmed by the choice of bikes, tracks and artful menu design. But long-term, your excitement is quickly replaced by tedium. Which is a shame.
Dakar 18 is sadly a misjudged game that can feel refreshingly different to start with but ends up being incredibly frustrating, behind the pace and poorly implemented. With a focus on navigation and gruelling competition, refinement of crucial gameplay elements is sorely lacking. Some of the environments are truly epic, but the way the game fails to build upon them means they go to waste.
This is by far and away the best MXGP game to date, and the result of developer Milestone finally getting to grips with the Unreal Engine — despite the recently disappointing MotoGP 18. MXGP Pro still lacks technical polish and misses the magical 'wow' moments that great racing games feature, but this is now a great platform that they can build upon for the future. The difficulty curve will not be for everyone, but MXGP Pro is all the better for it.
The MotoGP series has long suffered from a lack of obvious progression from one release to the next. This time, Milestone has at least tried to do things differently and switch game engines, but right now that hasn't paid off. Last year's game was already supposed to be a transitional one, yet here we are with a game that is a regression for a series that was becoming a bit stale.