next car gameIt’s that time of year again: summer is upon us. If you’re a student with hours to kill, and nothing to do but relax, then driving video games are a great way to pass the time. You get to cruise around at high velocity in the best new cars, and all from the comfort of your living room. If you’re a petrol head with an addiction to speed, driving video games are the next best thing to actually driving. You get to race the latest models and learn their stats: max speed, horse power, how quickly they go from zero to sixty. There are lots of driving games on the market, many of which are distinctly middle of the road, but here are five of my favourites.

1.   Test Drive Unlimited. A fairly old game, first released on the Xbox 360 back in 2006, Test Drive Unlimited has aged well and continues to entertain gamers the world over. Set in the lush Oahu, you get to drive around all six-hundred square miles of the island’s surface. When online, you get to interact with other players and challenge them to races. The game also has a mission mode, which involves transporting different items to different locations.

2.   Forza Horizon 3. Driving video games have made real inroads over the past few years, and the latest ones are a far cry from the days of Super Mario Kart on the NES. 2016 saw the release of one of the best to date:Forza Horizon 3 has received almost universal acclaim for its sharp graphics, its realistic physics, and its breath-taking scenery. Set in Australia, this is an open-world game like Test Drive, with sumptuous backdrops and unrestricted game play.

3.   Gran Turismo 3.This was first released in 2001 on the PS2. A classic of the genre, and one of the most commercially successful video games of all time, GT3 makes many people’s“top one hundredgames”lists. With over twenty tracks and plenty of unlockables, it will keep you playing for hours and hours. Addictive is an understatement.

4.   Mario Kart Wii. Though not exactly the game for car aficionados, Mario Kart Wii is a crowd-pleaser and a great party-game. With whimsical tracks, involving mushrooms and rainbows, and a range of kooky characters, this is an imaginative, child-friendly game that, with its interactive control-system, really immerses the player in the experience.

5.   Burnout Paradise. Released in 2008 for the Xbox 360, this is a game all about crashing. Its best feature is ‘Crash mode’, which, as I say, rewards you for wreaking most havoc. It gives you an outlet for any destructive energies, so that when you’re actually driving you won’t be tempted.

Well there you have it. Those are my five best driving video games. Though there’s no substitute for actually driving, if you’ve gotten too many points on your license, or you’re temporarily incapacitated, then driving video games are the next best thing. I wish you a good summer, and hope these games might get the pulses racing. Excuse the bad pun.