Embrace the need for speed (and other relatable titles) as we check out the best PS3 racing games of all time!
If there’s one console that still surprises me when it comes to graphics in 2022, it’s the PS3. This beast still knocks it out of the park whenever I go to slot a disc in the tray, not only showcasing graphics that look incredible, but providing scenery that looks so real I could actually drive through my TV screen and onto the track.
The PS3 servers for online play might be now a thing of legend, but couch multiplayer gaming in these titles is still as fun as ever.
And don’t even get me started on how good it is to play the 60FPS title at Number 6 (no scrolling ahead!).
So, let’s burn some rubber and check out the best PS3 racing games ever to hit the asphalt.
Warning, this isn’t going to be a gentle ride!
Table of Contents
If you’re looking for a driving series that is wholeheartedly at the core of the racing game scene, then look no further. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is definitely one of the finest examples of one of the best PS3 racing games.
We’re talking a return to epic scenic courses and super cars vs cop cars, with all the usual thrills and spills we love from these games.
Race through fiery deserts and snow-capped peaks in cars that are so spectacular you’ll never look at your Ford Fiesta in the same way ever again.
The Hot Pursuit branch of the NFS series sees players starting as both a racer and then a cop in simultaneous fashion.
Take part in different-styled racing events directly from the game map. Dodge the law or race as a cop to take down speedsters.
I’ve gotta touch on those cars before I move on. Drifting around corners in a Bugatti Veyron never gets old, especially with these stellar graphics!
From a Bugatti to Ai-Ai in a Banana Kart, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing takes the 14th spot in our best PS3 racing games list.
Ok, so if you’ve ever spent time playing Mario Kart, heard of Mario Kart, or even know who Mario is, then you should have a good idea as to what this game is like.
It’s essentially Mario Kart with Sonic and his Sega pals. Every karting game since Super Mario Kart on the SNES has pretty much been a clone, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a good title.
You and seven other racers head out onto weird and wonderful tracks to compete for racing glory, firing weapons from boxing gloves to mines.
Choose your favourite Sega characters from Eggman to Amigo, making use of special All-Star abilities to give you the edge against your opponents.
Plus the multiplayer mode is fantastic to kick back with mates for some good-old-fashioned racing fun.
Let’s get back to proper racing with F1 2013, a game that simulates the thrills and spills of the 2013 F1 season.
Play through career mode, make up custom Grand Prix calendars, challenge your friends in multiplayer mode – it’s got it all.
And while you won’t notice the difference to F1 2012 or F1 2014 unless you’re an F1 fan, there are some pretty cool features in the 2013 feature to unpack .
Let’s start with the new Classics mode, giving players a chance to race in classic cars from the 80s along with classic drivers from the era.
Then there’s the addition of new courses such as Brands Hatch that weren’t actually in the season.
Ok, so that’s all that’s new, but the gameplay speaks for itself and is timeless… which is a good job seen as though this game is 9 yers old at the time of writing!
Driver: San Francisco is a Driver game, but not as we know it…
You know how some films end with ‘and it was all a dream’? We’ll, this Driver game all takes place within John Tanner’s head as he’s in a coma.
I’ve got to be honest, it’s a pretty lame concept. If the gameplay wasn’t amazing, I would put this higher back up the list. Thank goodness it plays well and is addictive as hell!
Roam around San Francisco at your leisure, all from the comfort of your car. Like the Driver games of old, all of the gameplay takes place this way.
There’s no GTA-style running around outside of your vehicle; just drive, ram, and speed through the city as people jump out of your way.
I do love one thing about this game in particular, and that’s having the ability to jump into any other driver’s body once Tanner realises he’s not really awake.
It’s a little like Avenging Spirit, one of our favourite rare Gameboy games, except with 140 different incredible cars to choose from!
Shift into other drivers to make them crash; just imagine if Need for Speed had that mechanic as you played as a cop!
Contrary to the name, Colin McRae: Dirt isn’t just about rally driving through bad-ass dirt tracks. It also plays home to other off-road vehicles, just like Number 8 a little further down our list.
Imagine cruising down a perilous track with trucks and buggies bashing into you. Now imagine up to 8 of you careering around said tracks vying for racing glory.
Man, I’ve got goosebumps just thinking of it.
While there are other entries in the Dirt series that could have made the list, I still think the first game is the best. It’s the same as THPS1; I’ll never forget the first time I heard Goldfinger playing while trying to make the jump over that fountain.
Sometimes the originals remain the best!
Work through the tournament mode, rack up points, buy new cars, and unlock even more exciting tracks and events to compete in.
Oh, and you’ll need to repair your car regularly. Rally driving isn’t kind on your suspension… or any other part of your car, come to think of it!
F1 2012 takes the 10th spot in this list of the best PS3 racing games of all time!
Similar to F1 2013 above, this game features all of the teams and drivers from the 2012 F1 season. Play through the all-new circuit in Texas, the Circuit of the Americas, as well as having a bash at the iconic circuits and Grand Prix events from this classic year.
So, let’s talk about some of the pivotal features in this game.
Test your skills against certain challenges in Champions mode. This basically means you have to beat other F1 champions over the finish line, which is much harder than you might think!
There’s also a speedy season mode called Season Challenge which is like a concise tournament, alongside tricky qualifying modes and a tutorial mode that lets players practice skills that will help them get ahead of the game.
If you like F1 and have a soft spot for the year 2012, then this game should be in your collection.
Oddly, Gran Turismo 5 is actually the 6th GT game in the canon. I guess that’s like getting annoyed that Fifa 12 actually came out in 2011; who really cares?
GT 5 has a whole heap of amazing cars to pick from, 1,000 in total, and 20 different tracks to race them on.
Wait, so that’s 20,000 different ways to play this game? Talk about value for money!
And yes, the rumours are (were) true; branded cars appear in GT 5 now!
Players can finally take a Ferrari or a Bugatti out for a spin, both examples of cars that I will never… ever own…
… do they have a 2008 Fiat Bravo as an option?
Experience real time damage for the first time in the worlds finest Driving Simulator series!
MotorStorm brings all the high-speed ATV action that you could ever need to your PS3. All the action, none of the dirt… that’s just how I like my sports!
MotorStorm lets gamers choose from a whole heap of amazing off-road vehicles. We’re talking trucks, bikes, ATVs, rally cars, and much much more.
This is one of the most exciting racing games I’ve played in terms of available options to the player. I know we all got excited when bikes first made an appearance in Mario Kart, but just wait till you see an off-road buggy go up against the mighty Mud Plugger.
As the nature of the game might have already alluded to, the tracks that you race on aren’t exactly straight forward. They’re pretty lairy, in fact, with loose surfaces causing drivers to slip and slide everywhere and affecting the overall handling of your chosen vehicle.
Play through 8 tracks finding shortcuts and using your vehicle style to your advantage. There are hazards everywhere, so watch out for obstacles when you finally punch that boost button!
Oh, and your engine does have the capacity to explode… probably should have mentioned that earlier.
Imagine if Mario Kart took place in the Mario Odyssey world of New Donk City, with all the racers using proper cars instead of karts. That’s exactly what Blur feels like, and it’s absolutely spectacular.
Ok, so you’re not actually going to see Donkey Kong racing around in an Audi Quattro, but the same weapon pick up mechanic is used, something that you don’t normally see in ‘real-looking racers’ like this.
Fire target-seeking weapons, pick cars based on their statistics, and do everything that you can to destroy the opposition!
One major plus point to Blur is that it uses 14 real-life locations for the tracks. There are even bosses to battle in order to win Need For Speed-style upgrades for your cars.
This game is the gift that keeps on giving!
Another cool feature is the way that players obtain fans in this game.
There are certain minigame challenges like driving through glowing arcs on the track to contend with, but fans are just as impressed when you blast another driver into the dust.
Give the people what they want!
Burnout: Paradise is special for a number of reasons – 60, in fact.
Yes, perhaps the game’s most defining feature is that it runs at a whopping 60FPS (that’s frames-per-second for any newbies to the game out there). It looks fantastic on the PS3 and is so fast paced that you’ll have to tape your eyelids back to take everything in,
And if you thought that the previous Burnout games were destructive, then they’ve got nothing on Paradise!
Drive around Paradise City (cue you singing Guns and Roses for the next hour), finding events to take part in at every junction.
Showtime mode replaces Crash mode, allowing players to pull off some spectacular crashes in glorious graphics. Seriously, watching something so horrific has never looked so good!
Take part in normal races, takedown races, and stunt modes. There’s also a survival mode where you have to make it to a specific point with your car intact… good luck with that!
Sackboy takes the limelight once again with LittleBigPlanet Karting, the next entry in our best PS3 racing games list!
Like Sonic & Sega All-Stars racing, this is pretty much another Mario Kart clone based in the LittleBigPlanet world.
Use homing missiles, grenades, mines, and other exciting weapons as you race through textured and crafted worlds seen in the main series.
Play through multiple modes taking part in treasure hunts, battles, and much more.
Players also have the chance to play through a co-op story mode, a little like Diddy Kong Racing after entering the JOINTVENTURE cheat code.
I can’t think of anything more relaxing than kicking back with a mate on a Sunday afternoon for some couch co-op racing!
Midnight Club: Los Angeles just misses out on that all-important bronze-medal spot, but only just!
I mean, any game where players can send EMPs to mess with other riders has to score highly, right?
Add that to the notion of roaming around Los Angeles in swish muscle cars, and you’ve got one hell of a title on your hands…
… can we just have a joint third-place section instead?
Race with both souped up cars and bikes in this classic racer that still looks superb today. Compete in illegal street races, run away from the police, and earn rep points to unlock more car parts and sweet vehicles.
And, as I mentioned above, there are different weapons and moves that you can use to get ahead of the game.
From EMPs to slowing down time to get past obstacles or cars in your way, MC:LA has some slick features that really set it apart from its competitors…
… except for the three upcoming titles, that is.
Pure takes third place in this list of the best PS3 racing games, and boy is it a good one!
The only time I’ve used a quad bike in real life, I almost died. So in all honesty, this is pretty much the closest I’ll ever get to getting behind the handlebars again, and I’m 100% happy with that!
And what’s more, Pure is a must-have for fans of mechanical engineering as you have to put your quad together from scratch. We’re talking everything from the engine through to the paint job.
If you love showboating and pulling off tricks (the main reason we all still spend so much time playing Tony Hawks), then you’ll have a field day throwing out awesome moves in this game.
Ramp up the quality of your tricks as the game goes on, upping your boost bar with every perfectly landed move.
You can choose to either race in the good-old-fashioned way or compete in trick attack modes where winners need to get the most points. Grab powerups to mess with your mates and try not to be the player that runs out of fuel first.
Need For Speed: Carbon takes the silver medal today.
That’s right; the winner of our best Need for Speed games has been relegated to the second spot in our PS3 racing games list, but it’s still a champion in our eyes.
Having the ability to freely move around the city and racing for control of teritories in Cabon Canyon will never get old. It’s still one of my favourite race locations in any game.
As with all of the NFS titles, players can soup up their cars, add decals, and run rings around the police to their hearts content.
There’s also a feature where you form your own crew; finally I can be in that illegal street racing gang I’ve always wanted to be in. Who’s going to amount to nothing now, my old headteacher who shall remain nameless for privacy reasons, eh!
Solo-player, multiplayer; it’s all epic. This is my favourite game in the entire Need for Speed series and one of the best PS3 racing games to this day.
Split/Second is the best PS3 racing game of all time!
And yes, your eyes aren’t deceiving you; there is a Disney logo on the bottom of the case there.
No wonder this game turned out so good!
Don’t worry, there aren’t any mice in clothes or angry ducks to be found racing in this game. Split/Second is hi-octane action from the get go, with players demolishing everything in sight as they go for gold.
Split/Second is all about taking the ultimate risks. Players need to commit to each-defying power plays, driving wildly and pulling off moves that would 100% get your license revoked…
… if you lived to survive them, that is.
Every insane move fills up a power meter that allows plays to make huge explosions. These blasts can trigger changes in the entire track, opening up new routes or closing parts off entirely.
They can also cause water to burst from dams and objects to rain down on the track too… talk about having to keep your eye on the ball!
Yes, Split/Second is the worthy winner of our best PS3 racing games list due to it’s sheer craziness and the ability to still make me shout in surprise 12 years on. Long may its reign continue!
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Seb Santabarbara has bought every Nintendo console that has ever been released in his 33 years on Planet Earth. His favourite game franchise is Zelda, and he’s patiently waiting for Banjo-Kazooie to come back to the fold. When he’s not playing games, he’s travelling the world in his self-converted camper van.