Top 10 Racing Video Games with the Best Soundtracks
Your pulse is rushing; your brow is sweating; your grip tightens around the wheel as your car finally pulls ahead of the lead and take first position. No, you’re not actually racing a car, but the right video game simulation can make it feel like you are.
The best racing video games are praised for their graphics, handling, and competitiveness, but one aspect is often overlooked: the importance of music. A solid soundtrack can tap into the thrill of the race and raise the adrenaline in a more subtle way. These 10 racing video games have been recognized for possessing the best soundtracks for high-speed chases.
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Best Video Game Soundtracks
- Burnout 3: Takedown (2004): The Burnout series offers a lot of great music, but the best entry is arguably this release that compiled a definitive collection of punk and alt rock. It’s the defiant music that a generation listened to when they first got their license and drove wherever they wanted. The 40+ songs were even presented by a real-life DJ in the game.
- Race Driver: Grid (2008): While most racing soundtracks took the approach of compiling pre-existing pop songs or slapping together dull background tunes, Grid featured the dynamic, layered compositions of multiple veteran video game composers to produce a score that’s as cinematic (with its James Bond-like orchestral integrations) as it is frantic.
- Out Run (1986): While some people prefer the follow-ups to the original Sega arcade game, the 1986 original was heavily influential in the music style that became known as synthwave. Its jazzy melodies crafted with Sega’s chiptune sound programming resulted in a collection of cruisin’ tracks that were dated in the 1980s and yet somehow timeless.
- AG Drive (2016): Many racing games incorporate the thumping bass and tinny loops of electronic music, but no modern racing soundtrack embraces the current EDM craze as wholeheartedly as AG Drive, whose soundtrack is comprised of Finnish house, trance, acid house, alt dance, and more.
- Road Rash (1994): The updated version of this classic game featured a slew of tracks from edgy A&M Records artists that earned the game 3DO’s “Soundtrack of the Year” award even before the game was released. The Sega CD is the best port, as it features the tracks in all their glory during the races.
- Jet Moto 2 (1997): Instead of crafting a soundtrack independent of the content on screen, Jet Moto 2 featured a variety of tracks that took clever approaches to adjust to the tone of each race course, such as utilizing subtle vocal refrains or Monty Norman influences. It also has some of the most frenzied tracks you’ll hear on a racing simulation.
- Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012): Not every racing game takes place on mountaintops or professional courses; some of the greatest matches are set on city streets. The collection of licensed tracks draws from this influence and delivers a symphony of dubstep and hip hop that’s still cutting-edge today.
- Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 3 (2007): This series of arcade games based on the Japanese Manga featured trance music from composer Yuzo Koshiro, who filled the game’s soundscape with adrenaline-pumping electronic loops that continually built and crescendoed to beautiful heights.
- Ridge Racer Type 4 (1998): Praised by many as not just a great racing soundtrack but a great soundtrack in general, this Namco title took a starkly different approach to crafting the game’s audible texture, delivering a timeless and innovative collection of funk, breakbeat, acid jazz, and neo-soul.
- F-Zero X (1998): It’s difficult to accurately describe the intricate melodies and riffs that made each track of the original F-Zero game distinctly different. The game’s N64 remake maintained what made the original soundtrack good and enhanced it with a rough, grungy rock edge that had some excellent drum and guitar solos.
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Aaron is unashamed to be a native Clevelander and the proud driver of a Hyundai Veloster Turbo (which recently replaced his 1995 Saturn SC-2). He gleefully utilizes his background in theater, literature, and communication to dramatically recite his own articles to nearby youth. Mr. Widmar happily resides in Dayton, Ohio with his magnificent wife, Vicki, but is often on the road with her exploring new destinations. Aaron has high aspirations for his writing career but often gets distracted pondering the profound nature of the human condition and forgets what he was writing… See more articles by Aaron.