Video: The evolution of video game cockpit cams

04th May 2022
Ethan Jupp

The measure of a racing game over the years I reckon can be boiled down to one word: immersion. How much do you feel like you’re really there, like the game’s sucked you in? One of the best moves to that end over the last three decades, has been cockpit view.

How better to feel like you’re actually driving a car, than for your view to be from in the car? As is the case everywhere in gaming however, things really have come along over the past 30 or so years, as this comparison video handily demonstrates.

You know what though? The original Need for Speed in 1994 still looks damn good today, amazingly. The details of the FD3 RX-7 in which we find ourselves in this video are startlingly good, while the surrounding environments are strangely good too. This is definitely footage from an emulated ‘upscaled’ version. Things get better from there in the cockpit of a Lamborghini Diablo SV in Need for Speed Hot Pursuit and again in High Stakes.

Jump forward six years and a generation of consoles and wow, how the environment has evolved. Not so much the cabin, in the case of Colin McRae Rally, but the important bit in rallying is the outside, not necessarily the details on the inside. That’s what you get with Test Drive Unlimited, with an entire island enjoyable from the impressively detailed cockpits of a whole selection of supercars and sportscars.

From there, we go through entries from the Juiced series (remember that?), various McRae entries, the Grid series, more Need for Speed, and many more. These days, we’re on the verge of photorealism, with multiple franchises. There’s really no excuse for a lack of cockpit cam these days, and given NFS was the game that started it all, it’s a strange omission from the latest entries. Hopefully this year’s reboot will address that.

Welcome to Goodwood Elevenses, a mid-morning helping of motoring-related amusement to help break up your day. Watch the last video: Absolutely sending a Peugeot 205 GTi around the Nürburgring

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