Midnight Club LA (PS3, Xbox 360)
As the Need for Speed series stumbles from one car wreck to the next (Need for Speed Undercover anyone?), Rockstar’s rival racing franchise has continued to speed past the competition. Midnight Club LA is unquestionably the most exhilarating ride yet, with more substance beneath the hood than almost any other racer.
The game managed to achieve a great balance between arcade-style racing and car customisation, ensuring you always had something interesting to do. Using the same RAGE engine as GTA IV, the game’s sprawling cityscape was truly awe-inspiring, with the believable weather effects adding some real-time strategy to the races. In addition, the lack of loading screens made for a pleasantly streamlined experience, and the cars themselves all handled perfectly. With online support for up to 16 players, fresh downloadable content and a 68 song tracklist, Midnight Club LA definitely fired on all cylinders. It certainly deserved to score higher than the 70s and 80s it received from most games journalists, which makes it a worthy candidate for our list.