The Best PS2 Racing Games

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The PlayStation 2 is undoubtedly one of the most memorable consoles ever to hit the market. The console, during its long life-span, sold over 155 million units worldwide. This beats most consoles released since. With the success of the platform comes some of the most popular and influential games to have ever been released. These games are still beloved by fans today and the PlayStation 2 is remembered fondly by all who owned it. Besides the games being great, the UI has also become an icon of the era. The music that played before you inserted a game into the disc tray is ingrained in the minds of everyone who had a PlayStation 2.

Driving and racing games had a great line-up on the platform. Some of the trademark games for the PlayStation 2 were the most influential driving games ever made. Gran Turismo, Need for Speed, and Burnout had terrific success on the console and continued to ride that success into the next generations of consoles. The updated graphics, physics, and sound made racing games more immersive for players and created a more realistic experience. Damage to your vehicle was often a major selling point, with updated physics engines allowing for more impactful and authentic looking crashes.

Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec

This is the first entry in the Gran Turismo series to hit the PlayStation 2. The game boasts updated graphics and sound to further immerse players in the high-speed action that Gran Turismo is known for. There are over 150 real cars to take to the track and race against AI opponents or against your friends in the multiplayer mode.

The game is, as before, split up into Arcade and Simulation modes which offer different ways to experience the full throttle racing that Gran Turismo 3 has to offer. Drop into the races in Arcade or customize your race with Simulation. There are plenty of returning courses that have been updated for the PlayStation 2 as well as new tracks to experience.

Burnout 3: Takedown

If you are looking for one of the highest rated racing games of all time, then this is a must-play. The third entry into the Burnout series boasts even more aggressive action and better visuals. Return to boosting through courses and obliterating opponents with the signature Takedowns which make a return for this entry.

Burnout 3 also features a new mode called Road Rage. This mode requires players to get as many takedowns as possible within the time limit in order to complete the level. This is a perfect game if you are a fan of action-packed aggressive driving games.

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2

If driving crazy fast from the law is your style, then 2002’s Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 is the game for you. With over twenty high-speed cars and thirty-three challenges to choose from, there is plenty of law-breaking, red-lining action to play through.

In Hot-Pursuit, outrun other racers and police as you dodge spike strips, roadblocks, and pit maneuvers. If dodging traps is not your thing, then Championship mode is the game-play you crave. Play through thirty-three different challenges within the confines of the law. There are also a few fun modes to change things up such as Lap Knockout, Be the Cop, Two-Player, etc. This is a definite must-play for fans of fast-paced action.

NASCAR Thunder 2004

This is the most realistic NASCAR game on the platform. NASCAR Thunder 2004 brings back the pedal-to-the-metal action of NASCAR to the PlayStation 2.

This time around, EA introduces the Grudges and Alliances feature. This new feature will create a more dynamic relationship with other racers who can retaliate if you anger them, or if you draft a racer for long enough, they will allow you to occasionally pass them. In Championship mode, these alliances or grudges carry over race to race. This game also introduced an online mode in which players can play with friends over the internet. This is a great homage to everything NASCAR.

Rumble Racing

For fans of less realistic action and more fun and goofy racing, Rumble Racing is the way to go. Customize your car and take it to the course to do awesome tricks and collect power ups. As you progress through each course, more will unlock for you to blast through. The AI is also super challenging, adding to the amount of chaos that Rumble Racing has to offer.

The multiplayer mode is also an awesome way to play. Face off against your friends in crazy, action filled action. This is one of the best arcade racers for the PlayStation 2 and a definite must-play for fans of Mario Kart.

Colin McRae Rally 3

Colin McRae Rally 3 is the professional rally car racing experience. This game perfectly captures the intensity of rally car racing as you use teamwork to make split-second turns or fly off the track because of a bad call. The playability of this game is what makes it great. You do not need to be a rally car racing fan in order to enjoy Colin McRae Rally 3.

The visuals are also better than before with realistic wrecks and fantastic, fleshed out scenery. This is the best homage to anything rally car and a definite buy for anyone that is a fan of fast-paced, adrenaline pumping racing.

Midnight Club II

From the award-winning developer Rockstar comes this gritty and fast-paced driving game. Go around the world as an underground racer, beating the best times in the biggest cities. Each course is open-ended, allowing a different way to complete each track every time it is played. There are plenty of obstacles too, which force you to find creative ways to avoid each roadblock.

Unlock new cars and motorcycles, customize them, and keep them in your garage as you win more cash through races. Midnight Club II also offers a variable weather system and law enforcement to add an extra level of challenge to the game.

Wipeout Fusion

Race and fight your way through 45 anti-gravity courses in 2002’s Wipeout Fusion. This game offers a lot of customization, with 32 different ships to choose from and 26 different weapons to blast you to the finish line. Race through the AG League in ten different tournaments to win cash in order to further upgrade your racer and ship and leave other competitors in your anti-gravity dust.

Wipeout Fusion offers some of the most fast-paced and action-packed racing on the console with its crazy futuristic setting and different ways to upgrade and customize your ship. This is a great game for fans of the classic F-Zero.


If race cars are not your style, then Splashdown is the perfect game to change things up. In Splashdown, you race on jet skis through multiple courses in which you must navigate through buoys in order to keep your jet ski up and running.

The game allows you to perform special maneuvers such as “submarine” or “invert” which allow you get the edge on your opponents and make up time. Perform stunts as well to increase your speed and score much like other racing games of this era. To top it all off, the effects in this game are fantastic, immersing players head first into the world of high-speed water racing.

  • Updated September 4, 2020