I also give a vote for NFSU, but the second one. Never played the first. It's got the gamut of racing challenges, fun story line told via comic-book style still frames and a near-exhaustive list of mods for your car.
My only complaint is that it's always nighttime in the game. NFS most wanted was released later, so that might have better graphics but I can't comment as I haven't played that either.
I'd say Need for speed Prostreet , It's really fun to play , but you need a decent rig or a console to play it. NFSU1 and 2 are classics and are okay to play. Most wanted was okay and I liked carbon.You don't seem to be looking for a real racing simulator but I guess I'll trow this one : Live for Speed is a good Racing simulator , It's axed a bit more on multiplayer gameplay , and well you can race with your friends.you also can change your car's setup like for example change it's tires,change the pressure in them, stiff a bit you suspension for better turning. Forza Motosport series on Xbox and Xbox 360 are great too.
Simulators are far better than arcade style games imo.
Personally I like Racer (@ racer.nl ) as you can set it up to run ok on older systems if you know what you are doing in it's .ini files and also make and tune your own cars and tracks for free.
You have to watch out though, since all the cars and tracks are user made not all are any good. Granted the graphics and physics are not spectacular but they are good enough imo.
I would advise you to avoid Redline by ambrosia (spelling?) as the graphics were not upped much since it was in development since 2000/2001 and the physics are crap.
Racer is not anywhere near as advanced as LFS.. Mostly because Racer and all of it's ports (windows, Linux and Mac OS X) are being made by one person. You will pretty much need a wheel too as keyboard controls are a pita and mouse is not much better.
I still love Racer though due to it's openness and the fact that it has street cars. I am so sick of being expected to use either high-end &expensive or riced cars or F1, indy and nascar stuff. I really like to race with regular everyday cars.
One of my favourites is a 1968 Plymouth Barracuda that was done by "Ryan T". Screw the Hemi, a regular 340cid V8 works just fine. Actually, I have been looking for a 1991-1993 Honda Civic (not riced) but cannot seem to find any, the one that I did find is a huge FPS killer and riced enough to eat.(because you eat rice and this car it full of it.)
I have been working on converting a Civic from another game for personal use only but with my best PC not set up that Civic conversion and the 1970 Dodge Challenger I was making from scratch have been put on hold.
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