Years after its launch, the PlayStation 2 has left us with hundreds of gems from many different genres, but one of the ones we have enjoyed the most has been the racing genre. 

From professional Nascar inspired races on famous circuits to some of the best street racers full of destruction, these are the

Best Racing Games for The PS2

Looney Tunes Space Race (2002)

We start the list of best PS2 racing games with an adventure of the most famous animated characters on TV after Mickey Mouse and his friends.

Looney Tunes Space Race for PS2

Developed by Infogrames, Looney Tunes Space Race was initially released for the Nintendo 64, but was so successful that it was ported to the PS2 with some new features.

The game combines classic Looney Tunes humor with a space-karting theme and spectacular power-ups. The animation is one of its best aspects, along with the voices and familiar faces of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and many other memorable characters. Everything is tailor-made.

The gameplay is somewhat simple and its circuits are not so creative, but it makes up for it with the charisma of its racers. 

Undoubtedly, Looney Tunes Space Race is a perfect alternative to Mario Kart to have fun with friends, since it supports up to 4 player multiplayer. But be careful, this also makes the game a destroyer of friendships.

Tourist Trophy (2006)

In the twilight of the PS2, Sony itself dared to launch a motorcycle simulator exclusively for the console and made by Polyphony Digital, the makers of Gran Turismo who wanted to replicate the success of their driving simulator once again.

Tourist Trophy Motorcycle Racing

The result was Tourist Trophy, a video game quite realistic for its time but also entertaining. With over 35 tracks and more than 100 bikes to choose from from iconic brands such as Honda and Kawasaki, Tourist Trophy will guarantee you a lot of fun if you are a fan of this sport.

As for the gameplay, Polyphony Digital did a great job with the movements and physics of the motorcycles, as well as the level of detail in the circuits. 

The only bad thing is that it didn’t come out on PS3, as contradictory as it may sound. It was one game that took the PS2 to the max but it wasn’t enough for the racing experience to have more rivals.

It’s a pity, although it doesn’t take away its place in the 10 best PS2 racing games.

Jak X Combat Racing (2005)

The iconic Jak and Daxter from Naughty Dog’s famous adventure franchise also knows how to fight on a race track.

This title boasts 24 circuits and 7 combat arenas, because yes, the cars can face and destroy each other.

In addition, it presents an interesting and extensive story mode, something uncommon in racing games that are usually just about… racing.

With wonderful level design and power-ups that combine the fun of karting with the intensity of simulation racing.

Although it featured most of the characters from the Jak and Daxter franchise at your disposal, this game couldn’t quite gain as much popularity as a similar PS1 title of an orange marsupial, but it’s still very much worth it.

Shox (2002)

If you’re more of an off-road racing fan, then Shox will be a delight for you. It was developed by EA Big, a division of the EA conglomerate that was responsible for arcade games like the SSX franchise, Fifa Street, Freestyle, and NBA Street.

What do all these titles have in common? They drew a lot of inspiration from the urban style for their gameplay, and Shox was no exception.

Shox Racing Game for PlayStation 2

In this title, we find gameplay with an ideal balance between arcade and realistic, plus it is quite accessible from the first moment. Something very interesting is the concept of the Shox Zones, in which you must pass with the highest possible speed and precision to get money in the game. In those days EA didn’t depend on micropayments, incredible.

With 20 tracks and 24 vehicles to choose from, Shox offers you the wonders of nature without having to leave your house. There are beaches, mountains, muddy areas, and other landscapes that look incredible thanks to the excellent graphics of this title. 

XGIII: Extreme G Racing (2001)

Better known as Extreme-G 3, this game stands out for its futuristic Tron-style theme with extreme speeds and twisted tracks.

In Extreme-G 3 you play a 23rd-century racer who starts from the lowest divisions to win the championship, but it’s no walk in the park, as what shines in this title is its devilish difficulty.

Extreme-G 3

If it is already a dizzying experience, the races also allow the use of weapons to kill your rivals or overtake them using the turbo, reaching unrealistic speeds in which a human would disintegrate in seconds.

By winning races you will get money to upgrade various aspects of your motorcycle of the future, from its shield, speed, and weapons.  

Even though it’s not the most graphically appealing, Extreme-G 3 is in my opinion the best futuristic arcade racing game of the PlayStation 2. If you don’t believe me, give it a try but be careful with the difficulty, it can frustrate you very quickly.

Burnout 3 Takedown (2003)

Burnout 2 could easily slide its way into this list alongside this one, but Takedown is the best of the best. One of the most memorable titles of the Burnout series and considered one of the best games released in 2003, although you probably remember it better as “a crash simulator”, a nickname given to it by the gamers themselves.

This game had almost everything, except the car licenses, although that didn’t matter because the variety of game modes was enough to have a good time winning races… Or destroying your rivals with takedowns or oncoming traffic in crash mode! There are many types of players.

If you don’t know what a takedown is in Burnout, it consists of making your opponent crash into just about anything on the stage, although the most satisfying takedowns are against vehicles on the highway. There are also the distinctive takedowns, which have their own names depending on the level and are even saved as photos.

The most prominent mode is the Burnout World Tour, where we will visit three imaginary metropolitan areas in the United States, Europe, and Asia, with a design inspired by the landscapes and usual urban structures of those continents making this the best Burnout of the PS2 era.

Be sure that you crash in all of them.

Gran Turismo 4 (2004)

At its launch, the fourth installment of Gran Turismo exceeded expectations in sales and quickly won a place in the hearts of speed-addicted fans.

Gran Turismo 4

It is a tradition that the car line-up present in Gran Turismo is, to say the least, huge and, consequently, representative of a wide sector of the market, although always focused on offering spectacle and speed to the player. It is not surprising, therefore, that in this new incarnation, we have more than 700 vehicles from more than 80 Asian, American, and European brands.

Both the scenery and the cars are close to photorealistic quality, having redesigned those already included previously and doing a masterful job on the new ones.

All these graphical and realistic portents could have been sabotaged by system slowdowns, but Polyphony Digital managed to get the best out of the PS2 without forcing it too much.

Unlike the previous installments, Gran Turismo 4 took the variety of difficulties in the extensive career mode too seriously, presenting a total of 21. 

In general, we are in front of an incredible racing game, a magnificent creation of Polyphony Digital that did not stop surpassing itself at that time.

Need For Speed Underground (2003)

The first thing that many gamers thought of when they saw the announcement of this game was Fast and the Furious since the first two movies of this famous franchise had already been released before NFS Underground.

Need for Speed Underground

Now, creating a video game with tunable cars was a total success for EA thanks to the success in theaters of Toretto and his friends… Oh excuse me, I mean his family.

Underground’s tuning theme not only became a trend in the racing genre but also catapulted back to fame the Need For Speed series, which at that time was not at its best.

This PS2 game featured 5 racing modes: drag, lap, KO, drifting, and point A to point B. 

All of them are very entertaining but I want to highlight the tuning of the cars. Among these modifications are the typical engine, brakes, suspensions, and tires related to the more classic tuning (augmented with turbos and nitros of all kinds), and on the other hand the more aesthetic ones such as wheels, headlights, hoods … added to the stickers, neon, tinted windows and different layers of paint/vinyl. 

As you can see, everything is modifiable, so in terms of variety you will be well served and the only possible limitation will be your imagination.

How I miss the days when Need For Speed was the king of the racing genre…

Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition Remix (2005) 

The Midnight Club saga has always been characterized by its street theme, although I dare say that they did almost better than Underground in that section.

From the reins of Rockstar Games, this third part was a success, adding more cars, trucks, and even motorcycles. As for the city, well, there are 4 cities to explore in its Remix version. That’s why it takes this second place.

This third part really tries to connect with the roots of American tuning more than NFS Underground, not only by sponsoring Dub Magazine, the most popular magazine in North America among the tuning culture but also by including the three most active cities in that urban movement: San Diego, Atlanta and Detroit.

The game includes a wide variety of vehicles, from classic, highly tunable cars to more expensive and less orthodox cars such as muscle cars, luxury cars, and, again, motorcycles all with a ton of customizations.

In addition, you can also get exclusive “special powers” for each type of vehicle, from nitro boosts to bullet times to dodge traffic. 

Perhaps its marked arcade style and the introduction of the unreal special powers may put some people off, but it is a very fun game, with a long duration, and with some extra game modes that increase it even more.

Need for Speed Most Wanted (2005) 

Escaping from the police has never been so much fun.

Almost 20 years after its release, Most Wanted is still in the top of the best driving games and some gamers consider it as the definitive NFS game in the series. In truth, there is no shortage of arguments…

In this installment to the fever of tuning, we have to add the return of police chases, something that had been lost in many previous games. 

For a change, the story mode begins when you get to the city in a decent car but you lose it in a bet. From that point on, you’ll have to climb from the bottom of the illegal street racing ladder with a mediocre car to beat the 15 tuners on the police blacklist. 

The gameplay doesn’t change too much, as it still keeps the Drag races, by checkpoints, by laps, and so on. The main feature is that the police are an ever-present element in your adventures. Even in free mode, they can stop you for speeding, but of course, you won’t be stopped.

In case you attract police cars in a race, they will still chase you when you finish them, so you’d better know the shortcuts and hideouts in the city because your pursuers are relentless. 

Add to this a colorful cast of licensed vehicles that you can modify to the teeth, or should I say to the pedals? Anyway, even though the PS2 version is more limited than the other home consoles, Most Wanted is so good that it can be considered not only the greatest racing game on the PlayStation 2 but one of the best racing games ever made.

The Final Lap On The PS2

There are so many driving gems on the PS2 that we might as well make a second list to praise franchises like TOCA, World Rally Championship, and Formula One that marked a whole generation. It may seem that we were playing sitting in front of a TV, but in our minds, we were driving at spectacular speeds to win trophies… or to escape from the police.