Video Games: 2015 Summer Escape

Summer. Sunshine. Ice cream. Shorts and sandals. Wonderful. When will the suffering end? If the words “road trip” fill you with dread and terror, maybe it’s time to reacquaint yourself with the kind of driving that involves plush seating, open spaces and bathroom breaks that don’t take half an hour – all in the comfort of your own home. Yes, we’re talking about video games. Even if you don’t personally partake, imagine the joy on your loved one’s faces when you present them with a new game (while you surreptitiously slip out to the garage and go for a much-needed solo drive).

This is our list of new releases and enduring classics, with a nod to games that feature local multiplayer.

Multiplatform Games

F1 2015

First up is the newest installment in the venerable F1 game series from developer Codemasters. It features an all-new game engine which delivers better graphics and physics. However, fans of <i>F1 2014</i> should note that there is no co-op or career mode this time around. | <b>For:</b> PC, PS4, Xbox One
For: PC, PS4, Xbox One

First up is the newest installment in the venerable F1 game series from developer Codemasters. It features an all-new game engine which delivers better graphics and physics. However, fans of F1 2014 should note that there is no co-op or career mode this time around.

Project CARS

<i>Project CARS</i> launched to much fanfare back in May and just received its first expansion pack last week – and a sequel has already been announced. The simulation-style racing game is known for its gorgeous graphics and unforgiving gameplay. | <b>For:</b> PC, PS4, Xbox One (Wii U version cancelled)
For: PC, PS4, Xbox One (Wii U version cancelled)

Project CARS launched to much fanfare back in May and just received its first expansion pack last week – and a sequel has already been announced. The simulation-style racing game is known for its gorgeous graphics and unforgiving gameplay.

Need for Speed: Rivals

There’s a new <i>Need for Speed</i> expected in November, but if you need your classic cops vs street racers fix, there’s nothing better. If you’re out looking for a physical copy, the Complete Edition includes all DLC packs. The Wii U version of <i>Most Wanted</i> gets a special mention here as one of the few games that take full advantage of the Wii U gamepad. | <b>For:</b> PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360
For: PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360

There’s a new Need for Speed expected in November, but if you need your classic cops vs robbers street racers fix, there’s nothing better. If you’re out looking for a physical copy, the Complete Edition includes all DLC packs. The Wii U version of Most Wanted gets a special mention here as one of the few games that take full advantage of the Wii U gamepad.

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed

Love <i>Mario Kart </i>but don’t have a Nintendo console? This is <i>the</i> multiplatform, multiplayer game, with support for online <i>and</i> local multiplayer on all platforms. And you’re racing vehicles that transform between car, boat, and plane modes, all within the same race. | <b>For:</b> PC, Wii U, PS3, Xbox 360, 3DS, Vita, iOS, Android
For: PC, Wii U, PS3, Xbox 360, 3DS, Vita, iOS, Android

Love Mario Kart but don’t have a Nintendo console? This is the multiplatform, multiplayer game, with support for online and local multiplayer on all platforms. And you’re racing vehicles that transform between car, boat, and plane modes, all within the same race.

PS4-Exclusive

Driveclub

Since its rocky launch, Driveclub has shaped up to be an absolutely gorgeous showcase for the PS4, with dynamic weather and day/night cycles that dramatically alter the racetrack. Gameplay niggles have been diligently patched, and the promised free version for Playstation Plus subscribers has recently launched, which is sure to bring an influx of new players. | <b>For:</b> PS4
Since its rocky launch, Driveclub has shaped up to be an absolutely gorgeous showcase for the PS4, with dynamic weather and day/night cycles that dramatically alter the racetrack. Gameplay niggles have been diligently patched, and the promised free version for Playstation Plus subscribers has recently launched, which is sure to bring an influx of new players.



Xbox One-Exclusive

Forza Horizon 2

It’s no secret that we love <i>Forza Horizon 2</i>. What’s not to love about bombing around the sun-drenched European countryside in a supercar (or Transit van)? Need something more refreshing? The Storm Island DLC adds a new location with a focus on off-road racing and adverse weather (think fog and torrential downpours). | <b>For:</b> Xbox One, Xbox 360 (core game only)
It’s no secret that we love Forza Horizon 2. What’s not to love about bombing around the sun-drenched European countryside in a supercar (or Transit van)? Need something more refreshing? The Storm Island DLC adds a new location with a focus on off-road racing and adverse weather (think fog and torrential downpours).

Forza Motorsport 5

With <i>Forza 6</i> just on the horizon, it’s a good time to jump back onto the track and hone your skills before taking on challengers in the new game. The locked 60 frames-per-second presentation is a mainstay of the series, and though it launched with the Xbox One almost two years ago, the slick graphics have held up in the interim. | <b>For:</b> Xbox One
With Forza 6 just on the horizon, it’s a good time to jump back onto the track and hone your skills before taking on challengers in the new game. The locked 60 frames-per-second presentation is a mainstay of the series, and though it launched with the Xbox One almost two years ago, the slick graphics have held up in the interim.

Wii U-Exclusive

Mario Kart 8

<i>Mario Kart</i>. Need we say more? Following its launch in May 2014, there have been two DLC packs released for the latest in the juggernaut franchise. Nintendo is producing new content through to 2016, but hasn’t yet detailed what that content will be. | <b>For:</b> Wii U
Mario Kart. Need we say more? Following its launch in May 2014, there have been two DLC packs released for the latest in the juggernaut franchise. Nintendo is producing new content through to 2016, but hasn’t yet detailed what that content will be.

PC-Exclusives

There is a ridiculous number of games on offer for PC gamers which cater to every niche you can imagine. For the sake our collective sanity, we’ve limited ourselves one time-tested favourite, and an promising up-and-comer.

TrackMania Series

So we cheated a little. There’s <i>TrackMania Forever</i>, which is free-to-play, as well as the various <i>TrackMania 2</i> installments. The upcoming <i>TrackMania Turbo</i> will include support for the PS4’s Project Morpheus VR device. We’d advise trying that out on an empty stomach. | <b>For:</b> Windows
For: Windows

So we cheated a little. There’s TrackMania Forever, which is free-to-play, as well as the various TrackMania 2 installments. The upcoming TrackMania Turbo will include support for the PS4’s Project Morpheus VR device. We’d advise trying that out on an empty stomach.

Distance

Currently on Steam Early Access, Distance is a futuristic racer where your tires are mainly for show because you’ll usually be airborne or otherwise be unaffected by mundane details like traction. No final release date has yet been given, but the game as it currently stands has garnered rave reviews. | <b>For:</b> Windows, OS X, Linux
For: Windows, OS X, Linux

Currently on Steam Early Access, Distance is a futuristic racer where your tires are mainly for show because you’ll usually be airborne or otherwise be unaffected by mundane details like traction. No final release date has yet been given, but the game as it currently stands has garnered rave reviews.

Bikes

It wouldn’t be a proper list without motorcycle games and... they’re all developed by Milestone S.r.l. They’re not at all the same though, and we detail the differences below.

MotoGP 15

If you prefer simulation-style games, or if you’re into the MotoGP championship, this is your game. The 2015 release sees luscious new graphics, new physics, and an expanded career mode featuring real-world riders. | <b>For:</b> PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360
For: PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360

If you prefer simulation-style games, or if you’re into the MotoGP championship, this is your game. The 2015 release sees luscious new graphics, new physics, and an expanded career mode featuring real-world riders.

Ride

If you want to race using street bikes, or more customization, this is the one for you. The handling and gameplay is more forgiving compared to <i>MotoGP</i>, and rather than following the career of a current MotoGP rider, you create your avatar from scratch and your bike is completely customizable. | <b>For:</b> PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360
For: PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360

If you want to race using street bikes, or more customization, this is the one for you. The handling and gameplay is more forgiving compared to MotoGP, and rather than following the career of a current MotoGP rider, you create your avatar from scratch and your bike is completely customizable.

MXGP

If you prefer arcade-style games, or if you want to race dirt bikes, pick this one. In Motocross, agility and quick reflexes matter a lot more than taking a clean line through a turn. The races can devolve into absolute chaos and collisions are commonplace. While clean riding will take you ahead of the pack and guarantee a win, there’s plenty of fun to be had in the fray. | <b>For:</b> PC, PS4, PS3, Xbox 360, Vita
For: PC, PS4, PS3, Xbox 360, Vita

If you prefer arcade-style games, or if you want to race dirt bikes, pick this one. In Motocross, agility and quick reflexes matter a lot more than taking a clean line through a turn. The races can devolve into absolute chaos and collisions are commonplace. While clean riding will take you ahead of the pack and guarantee a win, there’s plenty of fun to be had in the fray.

Not quite racing

Motor vehicles: check. Getting to the finish line: what finish line?

Trials Fusion

Okay, so there’s a finish line here. But the focus in <i>Trials Fusion</i> isn’t getting there first, it’s pulling stunts along the way and getting there in style. For current-gen gamers, this is a no-brainer, as it’s one of the few games which support four-player local multiplayer. Oh, did we mention the unicorn DLC? Yep, that’s a thing. | <b>For:</b> PC, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360
For: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360

Okay, so there’s a finish line here. But the focus in Trials Fusion isn’t getting there first, it’s pulling stunts along the way and getting there in style. For current-gen gamers, this is a no-brainer, as it’s one of the few games which support four-player local multiplayer. Oh, did we mention the unicorn DLC? Yep, that’s a thing.

Turbo Dismount

It’s a crash simulator. Mr. Dismount is a crash-test dummy and is subject to variation on the theme “what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object with a crash-test dummy in the mix?” It’s also free-to-play, it’s low-risk – to you, that is. | <b>For:</b> PC, iOS, Android
For: PC, iOS, Android

It’s a crash simulator. Mr. Dismount is a crash-test dummy and is subject to variation on the theme “what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object with a crash-test dummy in the mix?” It’s also free-to-play, it’s low-risk – to you, that is.

Rocket League

Soccer (or football, if you prefer), but with cars. You may have seen it on Top Gear, and if you thought that was chaotic, you should try it with booster rockets and two-player split-screen. Currently free for Playstation Plus subscribers, it’s one you don’t want to miss. | <b>For:</b> PC, PS4
For: PC, PS4

Soccer (or football, if you prefer), but with cars. You may have seen it on Top Gear, and if you thought that was chaotic, you should try it with booster rockets and two-player split-screen. Currently free for Playstation Plus subscribers, it’s one you don’t want to miss.

Race the Sun

It’s an endless runner (remember Canabalt?) but in a car. Despite the looming obstacles and twitch-based gameplay, it’s a relatively zen experience, with nothing but you and the minimalist environment. | <b>For:</b> PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, PS3, Vita
For: PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, PS3, Vita

It’s an endless runner (remember Canabalt?) but in a car. Despite the looming obstacles and twitch-based gameplay, it’s a relatively zen experience, with nothing but you and the minimalist environment.

So that's our list. Hope you have fun out of the sun. Did we miss your favourite? Let us know in the comments below.

Summer. Sunshine. Ice cream. Shorts and sandals. Wonderful. When will the suffering end? If the words “road trip” fill you with dread and... 7/30/2015 10:00:49 AM