The Top Racing Games You Should Be Playing From 2000

Crazy Taxi gameplay

The Top Racing Games You Should Be Playing From 2000

Though the Dreamcast’s arrival in 1999 would establish it as the first 6th-generation console, it wouldn’t be until the launch of the PlayStation 2 in October 2000 that the 6th hardware generation would begin in earnest. One of the more obvious genres to benefit from the massive technological leap between the PlayStation and the PS2 is racing, with more than a few of the titles from the year enduring as both the top racing games from 2000 and still some of the best and most impressive games of the era. Several franchises would receive new entries in 2000, but equally impressive are the debut games for several new franchises, some of which continue to this day as long-running series while others quickly faded into obscurity.

Not surprisingly, the Dreamcast has one of the most impressive showings in our list of the top racing games of the year, with the platform perfectly suited to arcade-accurate ports and some excellent visuals befitting the typically graphically intensive racing genre. Many of these titles would receive ports to the PS2 the following year, though surprisingly they earned a cooler critical reception in comparison to the original Dreamcast versions.

10. Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed

Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed gameplay

©Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed gameplay screenshot – Original

  • Release Date — February 29, 2000
  • Platforms — PC, PlayStation
  • Metacritic Score — 78% (Generally Favorable)

Unlike the rest of Electronic Arts’ Need for Speed series, this 2000 installment focuses on one particular automobile manufacturer and exclusively uses Porsche cars from throughout the company’s history. Even with that exclusive limitation, Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed manages to be one of the more enjoyable entries in the long-running arcade racing series thanks to how varied the different models of Porsche are in terms of their performance and appearance. There are some excellent tracks on display here that make great use of the Porsche license and the cars’ legendary status as high-end sports cars, and the handling and sense of speed on display are befitting of the franchise.

9. Star Wars Episode I: Racer

Star Wars Episode I: Racer gameplay

©Star Wars Episode I: Racer gameplay screenshot – Original

  • Release Date — April 3, 2000
  • Platforms — Dreamcast
  • Metacritic Score — 75% (Generally Favorable)

Star Wars Episode I: Racer bucks trends in two surprising ways. One, the game is a licensed title that ends up making great use of its IP and being a quality game with plenty of replayability. Two, the game takes creative license from the film it’s based on and ends up surpassing its quality, being one of the best things to come out of the release of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. That film’s disappointment aside, Episode I: Racer is a phenomenal arcade racing game that blends elements of F-Zero and Wipeout to replicate the film’s iconic Pod Racing sequence across a wide variety of worlds from the Star Wars universe and with far more available racers than just Anakin and Sebulba. The Dreamcast version is the definitive release of the game for how close it comes to being a perfect arcade port.

8. MotoGP

Moto GP gameplay

©Moto GP gameplay screenshot – Original

  • Release Date — October 26, 2000
  • Platforms — PlayStation 2
  • Metacritic Score — 77% (Generally Favorable)

The inaugural game in Namco’s MotoGP series, the first game is one of the more graphically impressive and fun racers to arrive on the PS2 at launch, taking the arcade thrills of 500GP and shrinking the experience down to your living room. While the title has a higher critical and commercial reception in Japan (ending up as one of the more successful PS2 launch titles), the game was nearly as successful in the West and introduced an entire generation of players to the exciting world of Grand Prix motorcycle racing and the Japanese Suzuka circuit. What makes MotoGP still worth playing in the face of other, later entries in the series is its focus on pure arcade fun over simulation, and the visuals hold up surprisingly well in comparison to other early PS2 titles.

7. Midnight Club: Street Racing

Midnight Club: Street Racing gameplay

©Midnight Club: Street Racing gameplay screenshot – Original

  • Release Date — October 26, 2000
  • Platforms — PlayStation 2
  • Metacritic Score — 78% (Generally Favorable)

A year before Rockstar Games would revolutionize 6th-generation gaming with Grand Theft Auto III, the company would have one of the more entertaining PS2 launch titles with Midnight Club: Street Racing. Contrary to most other racing games of the era (or since), Midnight Club focuses on the act of illegal street racing and sees contestants using all manner of different vehicles competing to win outside of sanctioned competitions and race tracks or courses. Midnight Club features a great soundtrack and some fun, arcade-style racing action. And even though later games in the series would eventually improve on the formula that the first game establishes, the original is still worth going back and playing almost 25 years later.

6. Metropolis Street Racer

MSR gameplay

©MSR gameplay screenshot – Original

  • Release Date — November 3, 2000
  • Platforms — Dreamcast
  • Metacritic Score — 87 % (Generally Favorable)

Before Bizzare Creations would go on to give the original Xbox its definitive racing series in Project Gotham Racing, the company would release one of the Dreamcast’s best racing games with Metropolis Street Racer. Accordingly, many of the elements and mechanics that became synonymous with Project Gotham and helped make it a household name among racing fans, make their initial appearance in MSR, and the title still holds up surprisingly well as a prototypical version of the now-defunct Project Gotham Racing series. MSR features some excellent and approachable driving, radio stations akin to Grand Theft Auto III, and impressively realistic renditions of real-world cities. But what cements the game as an all-time classic is its early implementation of open-world racing and light RPG-style progression based on how players perform in its races.

5. Ridge Racer V

Ridge Racer V gameplay

©Ridge Racer V gameplay screenshot – Original

  • Release Date — October 25, 2000
  • Platforms — PlayStation 2
  • Metacritic Score — 78% (Generally Favorable)

The Ridge Racer series is synonymous with both arcade-style racing and the PlayStation, so it makes perfect sense that the 5th game in the series would make its way to the PS2 as a launch title. After the “middle-ground” approach to R4: Ridge Racer Type 4 that saw the series dabble in mixing arcade racing with realistic physics and light simulation elements, Ridge Racer V returns to the series roots of providing pure arcade thrills. The game’s visuals are arguably some of the strongest among the crop of PS2 launch titles, and the game’s back-to-basics approach ends up being hit or miss for fans of the franchise (particularly R4). That said, Ridge Racer V is as close as fans would ever get to a remake of the original game in the series and is bursting with the high-speed fun that made the series such a hit in the first place.

4. Excitebike 64

Excitebike 64 gameplay

©Excitebike 64 gameplay screenshot – Original

  • Release Date — April 30, 2000
  • Platforms — Nintendo 64
  • Metacritic Score — 88% (Generally Favorable)

It would only take 16 years, but in 2000 Nintendo finally gave fans a 3D sequel to its NES classic Excitebike. The aptly named Excitebike 64 perfectly recaptures the old-school thrill of playing the original on NES, only now the motocross action takes place in full 3D and shares more in common with other N64 classics like WaveRace 64 than the original Excitebike. That said, Excitebike 64 introduces several firsts to the series not present in the original game, such as a roster of 6 playable racers each with their own handling attributes and unique bikes, a single-player “career” mode across more than 20 tracks, a Soccer mini-game, and more. And, to further sweeten the deal, players can unlock the full version of the original Excitebike to play within Excitebike 64.

3. Test Drive Le Mans (Le Mans 24 Hours)

Test Drive Le Mans gameplay

©Test Drive Le Mans gameplay screenshot – Original

  • Release Date — March 31, 2000
  • Platforms — Dreamcast
  • Metacritic Score — 93% (Universal Acclaim)

Test Drive Le Mans would receive several ports to other consoles under the title Test Drive 24 Hours (a reference to the amount of time racers have to complete the legendary Le Mans endurance race), but none of these ports come close to matching the quality of the original Dreamcast version. The Dreamcast release of Le Mans is one of the console’s great simulation racing games, standing out as one of the few simulation racers in a sea of quality arcade ports. And while its simulation aspects are nowhere near as intricate or realistic as the Gran Turismo series, Test Drive Le Mans at least makes a solid attempt at providing players with a commendable attempt at replicating the true-to-life aspects of marathon racing with supercars.

2. Crazy Taxi

Crazy Taxi gameplay

©Crazy Taxi gameplay screenshot – Original

  • Release Date — January 24, 2000
  • Platforms — Dreamcast
  • Metacritic Score — 90% (Universal Acclaim)

While not a “racing” game in the traditional sense, Sega’s arcade classic Crazy Taxi and its 2000 Dreamcast port are undoubtedly among the greatest driving games of all time. Notably, the Dreamcast port would go on to be the second best-selling game on the console of the year, and its perfect 1-to-1 replication of the arcade cabinet’s gameplay plays a huge part. Even though there aren’t other opponents to race against in Crazy Taxi, players are racing against time itself to deliver fares for the most money possible, and racking up score means taking some truly inspired detours and risks in getting to your destination. With some unforgettable and hilarious arcade gameplay, an incredible soundtrack by The Offspring, and the ability to provide quick thrills in rapid succession, Crazy Taxi is an unmissable ride.

1. Colin McRae Rally 2.0

Colin McRae Rally 2.0 gameplay

©Colin McRae Rally 2.0 gameplay screenshot – Original

  • Release Date — December 5, 2000
  • Platforms — PlayStation
  • Metacritic Score — 90% (Universal Acclaim)

Long before Codemasters would reinvent the rally racing game subgenre with the excellent Dirt series, the developer would release one of the PlayStation’s greatest racing games in Colin McRae Rally 2.0. Subsequently, there are still plenty of rally racing fans who view 2.0 as the greatest rally racing game ever, even when stacking it up against newer games in the subgenre. Like some of the best racing games of 2000 and beyond, Colin McRae Rally 2.0 excels by mixing aspects of both arcade and simulation racers, with realistic physics and weather adding layers to what’s otherwise fairly standard and not overly complex car handling.

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