Okay, I'm cheating a little bit here, because I HONESTLY cannot pick one racing game from Criterion that I enjoyed the most this generation. I love racing games, and Criterion is (or, I suppose was), the absolute upper echelon of racing fun for me. Starting with 2008's Burnout Paradise, an open world driving game that simply was a blast to drive around in. There was something to be found in every nook and cranny, driving was fine tuned in such a way that blasting around Paradise City at speeds beyond rationality felt like a completely natural extension of your controller. You wanted to go somewhere, and you went. Then, when Criterion was passed the reins of the Need for Speed series, they went on and created 2010's Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, completely turning around the slump that Need for Speed had been in by applying that same, natural driving finesse to the concepts of a Hot Pursuit, the dichotomy between racer and cops. Finally, while the single player portion of 2012's Need for Speed: Most Wanted was a solid, if not mind-blowing continual refinement of Criterion's open world flair put forward in Burnout Paradise, the speedlist system and utter chaos of the multiplayer makes Most Wanted all worthwhile. Very few things reach the feeling of fun mixed with panic mixed with pride of winning races and events during a speedlist, what with the lack of a starting grid. Everyone drives to the starting location, the first checkpoint is placed, and a countdown begins. In that order. If you're facing the correct way along the path of the race, great! You get a headstart, and can drive while the countdown's still going before the race even officially starts. If not, Oops! Have to turn around! I mention chaos a lot when talking about Most Wanted, and that's because it's the most applicable term. The multiplayer is NONSENSE, in the best possible way. So while making this list, I was thinking to myself, "Do I pick the influence of Burnout Paradise, the single player of Hot Pursuit, or the multiplayer of Most Wanted?" So me, being the indecisive person that I am, chose all three. Cheating? Yes. Very. Do I care? No. All three are fantastic games, well worth your attention.
Runners-up: Driver: San Francisco, Blur, Excitebots: Trick Racing, ModNation Racers