Ah, car combat. There’s just something special about going 150 mph and trying to not only outrace your opponents, but also blow them to kingdom come! Whether with fantastical spiked turtle shells or more realistic homing missiles, the car-combat genre’s seen it all. It is this deep love of the genre that has compelled EGM to look back at five of our favorite car-combat games.
Released: November 2001 – PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox
Though it’s not strictly a car combat game like Twisted Metal, the original Burnout did add an aggro edge to arcade racing. It wasn’t enough to drive fast—you also had to take out the competition by knocking them off the road. Or, even better, into oncoming traffic. But that wasn’t the only thing that made the first game so exhilarating; it was that you did all of this while weaving in and out of traffic, some of which was of the aforementioned oncoming kind. It’s just too bad later iterations kind of lost this aspect, as they reduced the number of other cars on the road and made it more about the driving than the swerving.
Rock N’ Roll Racing
Released: June 1993 – SNES, Genesis
While most heap praise on Blizzard for their RTS and MMO offerings, my favorite of their interactive litter has to be Rock N’ Roll Racing, a classic rock–infused remix in the spirit of NES favorite R.C. Pro-AM. Few of my car-combat moments eclipsed the experience of tearing around the track with a souped-up battle tank, dodging landmines, and ripping off rockets with reckless abandon. Packed with menacing weapons, an addictive upgrade system, and a soundtrack featuring digitized hits from the likes of Steppenwolf, Black Sabbath, and George Thorogood, this tale of fame and glory on alien worlds was a blend of classic combat, role-playing, and kart racing that really broke the mold.
Released: November 1990 – SNES
You think F-Zero doesn’t count as car combat? Tell that to those pushy enemy vehicles constantly trying to ram Captain Falcon off the road! I’m not much of a gearhead in gaming or in real life (my Mitsubishi’s just a metal box designed to get from Point A to Point B), but F-Zero’s intense speed and ruthless aggression engage my inner Jeff Gordon. When I hear those familiar Mute City strains—whether it’s on the Super NES, N64, or GameCube—I get that rush of adrenaline and know that it’s time to take Samurai Goroh out, man. Forget Operation Rainfall, Nintendo—how about a new F-Zero after eight years?!
Released: 1989 – Sega Mega CD
Road Avenger—or Road Blaster, depending on which version you played or what country you’re from—was one of a number of titles to come out during the big craze of “interactive videogames” delivered via LaserDisc. With your wife killed by a crazed biker gang, you do what any sensible husband would: hop into your custom red sports car and use it to exact swift justice, played out by perfectly-timed button pushes à la Dragon’s Lair. Really, though, even beyond the game itself, the reason this gets my nomination is simply for the opening song that was featured exclusively on the Sega CD version. That track—and its nonsensical lyrics—stand to this day as one of the proudest audio moments in gaming.
-Eric L. Patterson
Released: May 2010 – Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Sure, Blur isn’t the most original of games when it comes to car combat—but it’s definitely one of the most fun. Unfortunately, it came out during a flood of racing games, so it fell through the cracks for many people—which would later lead to Bizarre Creations closing up shop. But for those of us who did play it, we got a game that combined the car mechanics of Need for Speed with Mario Kart’s weaponized mayhem. With 60-plus story missions, a variety of game modes, and solid online multiplayer,Blur could’ve been the start of a rich car-combat franchise if Activision hadn’t been so quick to pull the plug. Plus, the game featured IndyCar and NASCAR driver Danica Patrick…and she’s just so dreamy.