When it comes to video games, there are two types that seem to always nail it – sports games and driving games.
If you’re virtually racing around tracks or foreign cities in some seriously exciting cars, a soundtrack that gets you in the zone for putting the pedal to the metal – or pinning R2 – is an essential part of the experience.
Matching the tone of the soundtrack to the vibe of the game is a must, as offers some diversity in terms of what genres and eras are represented.
So we’re wrapping up seven of the very best driving game soundtracks you absolutely have to check out!
Project Gotham Racing 4
As an early adopter of the Xbox 360 back when it launched, the Project Gotham Racing series was one that I quickly gravitated towards.
With a range of exciting locations, the ultra rare cars, and the brilliant soundtracks, they were hugely influential to a young petrolhead like me.
Project Gotham Racing 4, the final game released in the series, packed the biggest punch with its indie rock soundtrack.
From Bloc Party, early Lily Allen, TV on the Radio and Kaiser Chiefs’ big hit “Ruby”, to the hard-rockin’ sounds of Wolfmother and My Chemical Romance – it’s a seriously well-rounded and adrenaline-inducing experience.
Bundle in some great rap names (The Roots, Lupe Fiasco), a theme by The Prodigy and some classical symphonies for good measure and you’ve got one of the best soundtracks of all time.
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With its racing events centred around music festivals in a range of picturesque locations, it would only be right to expect the Forza Horizon games to feature some killer beats.
While all games in the series serve up a tasty soundtrack, I reckon it’s the original that delivers the best.
For dance music lovers, there’s a lot to like – including Avicii, Benny Benassi, Madeon, Skrillex, Chase and Status, and Porter Robinson.
It delivers on the rockier side as well, with big tracks from Silversun Pickups, Phoenix, Arctic Monkeys, and The Black Keys, while some vibey electronica comes in the form of some Empire of the Sun and Miike Snow hits.
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Grand Theft Auto V
Okay, so Grand Theft Auto V might not be quite the same sort of driving game as the rest on this list, but with how integral cars are to the game – particularly when it comes to the racing-heavy Online version – it can’t be ignored.
Cementing its place on this list, is its mammoth soundtrack – one which was only lengthened on the updated version for next-gen consoles.
With in-game radio stations for just about every genre – old-school and new-school hip hop, classic rock, punk, pop, electronica, and more – there’s literally something for everyone in GTA V.
It’s no surprise it’s still relevant after the better part of a decade.
Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition
Like Grand Theft Auto, Midnight Club is another Rockstar Games title. Given we know what sort of a soundtrack the company can pull together, it’s no wonder this classic open-world title makes an appearance here as well.
The first game in the series to feature licensed vehicles, Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition also boasted 98 licensed songs as well.
Unsurprisingly, hip hop forms the bulk of the soundtrack, with names including Lil Wayne, Fabolous, T.I., The Game, and Big Tymers.
However, some great rock tracks make an appearance as well, such as Nine Inch Nails’ “The Hand That Feeds”, “Little Sister” by Queens of the Stone Age, and Kasabian’s “Club Foot”.
Dancehall, drum and bass, and techno jams round out this period-perfect soundtrack that was only expanded upon with the Remix edition of the game, which added a further 26 tracks including Paul Wall’s classic “Sittin’ Sidewayz” – an ideal fit for a game created in partnership with DUB Magazine.
Driver: San Francisco
Like so many driving games, Driver: San Francisco is one that really shines a light on alternative music with its mega soundtrack. Whether it’s left-field rock, electronic, or anything in-between, the diversity is impressive.
Names such as The Presets, UNKLE, LCD Soundsystem, The Heavy, The Flaming Lips, Beck, DJ Shadow, Jamiroquai, The Black Keys, and more round out this epic 70-song roster.
Burnout Paradise, like GTA V, is another older game that has remained relevant for some time. First launched in 2008 but re-released in remastered forms as recently as 2020, it received incredibly positive critical response and has even been featured in academia when studying topics such as gamer cardiology.
Being such a high-octane game, it naturally features a very uptempo rock soundtrack boasting some big names in rock including Guns N’ Roses, Jane’s Addiction, Killswitch Engage, Soundgarden, Twisted Sister, and Jimmy Eat World.
Throw in other fast-paced jams such as N.E.R.D.’s “Rockstar” and even Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend”, and Burnout Paradise is sure to get your blood pumping just from the soundtrack alone.
Need for Speed: Underground 2
If there’s one game ‘90s babies are hoping made the cut, it’s Need for Speed: Underground 2. A true classic, this game was both the perfect representation of the era while also influencing it. I don’t doubt many kids playing this in 2004-05 thought underglow was cool in no small part because of this game. Ask me how I know…
The soundtrack is something that holds the test of time a bit better than the neons and body kits.
Big-ticket hip hop names including Snoop Dogg and Xzibit make an appearance, while big names in rock such as Spiderbait, Rise Against, and Queens of the Stone Age also check-in.
It’s a short soundtrack, but so were most around this time. Despite the restrained length, it encapsulates the time ideally.