Certainly, Codemasters, the renowned British game developer, is a dominant force in the realm of racing games, having created some of the most exceptional titles in this genre. After being acquired by EA a few years back, Codemasters continued their collaboration, contributing significantly to projects like the F1 franchise. However, this compilation zeroes in on their independent period, specifically spotlighting the finest racing games ever created.

Established in 1986, Codemasters gained recognition not only for their racing games but also for successful RPGs like the Overlord series. However, in the late '90s, they shifted their focus primarily to racing, introducing iconic series like TOCA and Colin McRae. Since then, they have produced outstanding racing simulation games. The question remains: which one stands out as their ultimate masterpiece?

1. F1 2010

F1 2010, positioned at the pinnacle, marked a significant turning point in the racing game landscape. It represented Codemasters' inaugural venture into the F1 series and signaled the revival of licensed products in the market after a prolonged hiatus. The advancement it brought was monumental. This game swiftly garnered an extensive F1 gaming community, largely owing to its revolutionary career mode.

F1 2010
F1 2010

In this mode, players embarked on a journey from a lower-tier team, steadily ascending the ranks through consistent performance. They had the opportunity to become the primary driver, honing their skills, enhancing the car during practice sessions, and pushing their abilities to the maximum. In essence, it was truly exceptional.

2. F1 2020

The final installment in the F1 series before EA's acquisition saw Codemasters giving their all in F1 2020, as if they were reserving something special for the conclusion.

F1 2020
F1 2020

They introduced fresh gameplay mechanics, extensive customization, the innovative My Team mode, a diverse array of accessibility features, career mode enhancements such as driver swaps, and the inclusion of classic cars and drivers for your team. Its ranking in second place is likely attributed to the nostalgia factor.

3. Colin McRae: DiRT 2

Considered one of their most praised creations, Colin McRae DiRT 2, launched in 2009, stands as a deserving contender for a top spot. It possessed a distinctive vibe, merging arcade-style physics with simulation gameplay—a departure from Codemasters' usual approach. The incorporation of diverse modes attracted varied audiences, catering to both casual gamers and dedicated enthusiasts. However, a drawback was noted in the absence of weather effects and track degradation.

Colin Mcrae Dirt 2
Colin McRae: DiRT 2

4. F1 2017

It's hardly surprising. The top-tier games on the list are predominantly dominated by Codemasters' F1 franchise, a series they crafted seemingly from nothing. Motorsport's reigning champion warranted an annual release that could stand shoulder to shoulder with major sports titles like NBA 2K, FIFA, and Madden, and Codemasters delivered.

F1 2017
F1 2017

However, F1 2017 earns its place on the list as one of their finest achievements after nearly a decade of dedicated effort and ongoing improvement. The franchise's growing popularity and its gameplay's respected quality marked a milestone: F1 2017 became the first F1 game to enter the realm of eSports competitions.

5. Colin McRae Rally 2.0

An undeniably timeless masterpiece, cherished by enthusiasts of racing games and rallying alike, Colin McRae Rally 2.0 made its debut in 2000 for PlayStation, PC, and Game Boy Advance. Remarkably, its graphics could be mistaken for a PlayStation 2 game, and a decent one at that.

Colin Mcrae Rally 2 0
Colin McRae Rally 2.0

During its release, this game stood out as the finest and most realistic rally video game available. Its only notable drawback was the relatively brief length of the tracks.

6. Race Driver: Grid

In 2008, Codemasters departed from the prevailing trend of car collecting games and instead, created a game solely centered around racing, without any frills. The inaugural installment of the Grid series remains one of their highest-rated games on Metacritic. It's a racing game highly praised for its simplicity and excellence in execution.

Race Driver Grid
Race Driver: Grid

While other games often attempt to incorporate too many elements, Grid focused on the essentials and perfected them. Every aspect, including the cars, tracks, physics, and gameplay, was meticulously crafted. It's rare to find games as finely polished as Grid was at its initial launch in today's gaming landscape.

7. DiRT Rally

Beyond their expertise in F1, street racing, and driving simulators, Codemasters truly excelled in the realm of rally games. DiRT Rally, launched in 2015 for PC and slightly later on consoles, felt like the pinnacle of the DiRT series. In reality, the game's authenticity made it exceptionally challenging for newcomers.

Dirt Rally
DiRT Rally

It became a benchmark, distinguishing casual players from true racing enthusiasts. Whether players found it approachable or not, when a racing game accurately represents the sport with such fidelity and depth, it undoubtedly deserves recognition as one of the best, even if it doesn't cater to a broad audience.

8. TOCA Race Driver 2: The Ultimate Driving Simulator

While Grid 2 aimed to compete with top-tier games, TOCA Race Driver 2 truly achieved this feat. It stood out as one of the finest and most polished racing games of its era, becoming a timeless classic, especially on PlayStation 2.

Toca Race Driver 2
TOCA Race Driver 2: The Ultimate Driving Simulator

Launched in 2004, the game offered a wealth of diverse content, boasting impressive graphics. Notably, it allowed players to switch to a Hardcore simulation mode, providing one of the most realistic racing experiences available at that time.

9. Grid 2

Returning to their area of expertise for the remainder of this list, Codemasters truly excelled in crafting the most advanced racing simulations, consistently setting the bar for other developers to aspire to. In Grid 2, they showcased stunning graphics in terms of damage modeling and physics.

Grid 2
Grid 2

The game's career mode, where players gained more fans based on their race performances, coupled with the variety of cars and tracks, and the overall gameplay, transformed this installment into a remarkably robust sequel. It posed a significant threat to the esteemed legacy of Gran Turismo, solidifying its place in the racing game saga.

10. F1 Race Stars

While some valuable games, such as their inaugural racing game BMX Simulator, might have been overlooked, F1 Race Stars shouldn't be consigned to the realm of "forgotten" titles. This attempt at blending Mario Kart-like gameplay with the F1 license turned out rather well and warrants consideration as one of the standout options in this category.

F1 Race Stars
F1 Race Stars

The tracks boasted fantastic and enjoyable designs, and the thrill of racing alongside both current and legendary F1 drivers was undeniably appealing. Overall, it was a commendable game. However, the decision to omit sliding, a feature common in this game genre, didn't sit quite right, although, to be fair, sliding in an F1 car might not be realistic. The game was released in 2012, with another edition for Wii U following in 2013. It's an idea that could certainly make a comeback in this gaming generation.

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