Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that. It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece. I strongly recommend anyone...
2005 was a helluva year for virtual drivers. With more contestants than a season's worth of The Price is Right, the race for the checkered flag was unbelievably tight, a neck and neck dash to the finish. But thanks to our internal stopwatch, the trophy goes to...
Publisher: Microsoft Developer: Bizarre Creations
Platform: Xbox 360
In a generally tepid launch, a select few Xbox 360 games rose above the din to really stand out as serious players. None, however, pulled off the triple crown of gameplay, graphics and online integration as smoothly as PGR 3, the best racing game of 2005. Not only does it deliver incredible visuls to match the fun, rewarding Kudos-driven gameplay, but the multiplayer is so robust, it's almost illegally invasive. By all accounts, this is the racing game to beat.
Publisher: Microsoft Developer: Microsoft
We didn't think anyone could topple Gran Turismo's grip on console simulation racing, but after spending a few sleepless months in the arms of Forza, we've changed our minds. This is the total sim package, a massive, satisfying racing endeavor that no Xbox racing fan should drive without.
Publisher: Nintendo Developer: Nintendo
Leave it to Nintendo to powerslide a ten year-old game back into the spotlight. The DS version of this storied franchise is the most complete yet, with tons of single-player content and, for the first time ever, online play. Frankly, we were shocked they pulled it off this well, but no one should be surprised that it snags an award.
Publisher: EA Developer: Criterion
Platform: PS2 | Xbox
Last year's best racer returned with some new tweaks to the same amazingly fun gameplay, and we just couldn't sleep without honoring it. Bigger crashes, faster chases and enough vehicular carnage to block traffic for a year highlight another top racer from the maniacs at Criterion.