A Need for a Lack of Speed
March 28, 2010 10:59 AM   Subscribe

A driving sim that can satisfy my apparently abnormal desires; specifically for one that doesn't require racing, realism, or GTA-style shenanigans.

I have a three year old who loves driving sims; for over a year she's been sitting with a force-feedback steering wheel while I run the brakes and pedals. The bit she finds frustrating is that pretty much every driving sim I've been able to find tends to be a racing game, or painfully accurate; she wants to "drive to a party", for example.

I've looked at both commercial and free options; she enjoyed driving a bus in a commercial bus driving sim, but she didn't enjoy being constantly berated for lack of perfect control over the bus. Racing games are uninteresting (and frustrating) for her. TORCS has been quite good, since you can drive solo, but she'd prefer a more recognisably urban setting than it provides, since it's all race tracks.

So: are there any driving sims where you can just noodle around a city or countryside and support a steering wheel controller?
posted by rodgerd to Computers & Internet (20 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Burnout Paradise defaults to a free roam mode.
posted by Memo at 11:01 AM on March 28, 2010

(I should have added: either Windows or Linux are fine)
posted by rodgerd at 11:03 AM on March 28, 2010

This doesn't fit all of your requirements and I'm not sure if there is a pc version, but she might enjoy Crazy Taxi.
posted by meta87 at 11:03 AM on March 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

Need For Speed Most Wanted was very urban and with good graphics and a free roam mode. Might be a bit trouble to track down, but it was a good game.
posted by disillusioned at 11:03 AM on March 28, 2010

Lego's Racers
posted by Confess, Fletch at 11:07 AM on March 28, 2010

The Simpsons Road Rage, which despite the title is pretty humorous and has a "training" mode where you can just noodle around without a specific mission. Apparently it's similar to Crazy Taxi, suggested above, but I've never played that.

It's unclear if there is a version available for PC; all the editions listed on Wikipedia are for a game system.
posted by rkent at 11:19 AM on March 28, 2010

Mafia has a freeride mode that lets you just drive around. It's a great game, but even the freeride mode is a lot of fun. Hack it to have freeride extreme with even more cars and funny stuff.
posted by oxit at 11:34 AM on March 28, 2010

Midtown madness?
posted by bluefrog at 11:41 AM on March 28, 2010

Test Drive Unlimited for the Xbox 360 lets you roam around the entire island of Hawaii
posted by adirondack at 12:04 PM on March 28, 2010

Need For Speed Most Wanted was very urban and with good graphics and a free roam mode. Might be a bit trouble to track down, but it was a good game.

I think many of the newer NFS games such as Carbon and Undercover also have the free-roam mode.

Found this noodling around the web:
Thread on driving games for a 5-year old on Gamespot.

Mafia freeride mode is great but the car handling is probably bit too tricky for your purposes.
posted by Authorized User at 12:47 PM on March 28, 2010

Another vote for Burnout Paradise, have you checked this one out? It sounds perfect for you. You just drive around, and can do jumps if you want, and engage in racing if you want, but there is no obligation to do anything other than drive around the city.
posted by dubitable at 12:56 PM on March 28, 2010

bluefrog chimes in with Midtown Madness, which I always had fun with when I was a pre-teen. Out of the box, the Midtown Madness games let you free-drive in the city (Chicago in the first game, San Francisco and London in the second, not sure about the third). There are a couple of mods on the Internet that'll let you expand the options. For me, it was oddly meditative to just drive around and explore the city, and I'd like to pretend I learned a lot about how each one was laid out.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 1:52 PM on March 28, 2010

What about an older game: Sierra's Drivers Education 99? It doesn't have the most up to date graphics, clearly, but it allows the player to drive around in an urban setting and supports a steering wheel. It might require some fiddling around with compatibility modes and DOSBox, or another, similar software.

I found some Ebay listings for the game, or you could probably buy it elsewhere online.
posted by lemonwheel at 1:53 PM on March 28, 2010

One of my friends used to play Need For Speed: Porsche Unleashed. He'd get in the 912, pick one of the country tracks (can't remember the name, I think it was France), and he'd just race the clock and turn off the ghost car (think: racing against your best lap time). Of course, a 912 isn't going to set any records, so he'd just meander alone down the country road and was perfectly content with it.
posted by Lukenlogs at 2:25 PM on March 28, 2010

actually, according to this review, GTA Vice City had free-roam ability, with no mandate for shenanigans.
posted by toodleydoodley at 3:37 PM on March 28, 2010

If you have a Wii, the Disney Cars game has a free roam option. Endless driving through the desert countryside and the outskirts of Radiator Springs, with only the wii-mote (fitted into a wheel housing if that is your preference) needed to steer. Perfect for a three year old--no requirement to complete any race, or actually do anything except steer your car hither & yon, forever....
posted by Chrischris at 4:20 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

actually, according to this review, GTA Vice City had free-roam ability, with no mandate for shenanigans.

While it's true that in GTA you don't have to participate in any murder or killing sprees, there's generally so much stuff going on and traffic and pedestrians that it's hard not to get into trouble somehow. At least, every time I've set out to just drive around for a while I've taken a corner poorly or something, and mauled a few people thus leading to an inevitable life of crime.

Burnout Paradise is perfect for this. Just lots and lots of fun driving, with lots of race types and destruction missions that you don't have to touch at all, if you don't want to.
posted by graventy at 5:14 PM on March 28, 2010

Dirt 2 takes place in a huge wasteland or something.
posted by GilloD at 7:29 PM on March 28, 2010

Nthing Burnout Paradise. Love, love, love that game. I've nearly completed it, but I still never get bored of roaming.
posted by Thistledown at 7:59 PM on March 28, 2010

FUEL is the "huge wasteland" of recent racing games.
posted by wzcx at 3:45 PM on March 30, 2010

« Older Help me find an online game I played once.   |   Triangle head, Triangle head, help me get rid of... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.