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Submitted by Derek dela Fuente on July 26 2004 - 14:38

Derek dons his g-suit and straps in for some severe speed...

If you live in the USA, as a racing fan you may well see IndyCar racing as the ultimate speed on track fix and although there is a number of racing series, IndyCar is perceived as the biggest and the best. European racers see F1 as the ultimate and comments from Euro speedsters that IndyCars is more about racing around oval tracks with loads of crashes is a rather jaundiced view, although everyone will agree that the Indy 500 is high, if not top, of the list of one off races to see, even though it is not that much different from other races in the IndyCar series.

The IndyCar Series offers a15-race, single-seat, championship throughout the USA and more, which includes the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway, Pikes Peak International Raceway and the newly featured Twin Ring Motegi Speedway in Japan. The spec list is also impressive with Online racing for up to 8, where up to 33 cars compete on the track simultaneously in single player, with the ability to re-create a full season competing as a favourite driver, including Sam Hornish Jr., Gil de Ferran, Al Unser Jr., Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves. Although famed names will not have the same ring as Button or Barrecello, the feel, look and power certainly matches the European F1.

Those of you with long memories may want to think back a few years to Indy 500 on the PC, a game from EA, which at the time was an awesome title and remarkably not much has been done over the last few years with the Indy series, until Codemasters grabbed the licence! Codemasters, famed for their quality racing games, is the ideal publisher. If you have watched Indy racing with interest you would have seen that pit stops take on a bigger role than they do in F1 racing, although of late its European partners now seem to be relying on tactical refuelling and tyre changing more than ever to gain the racing position advantage.

Within Indy Series, the customary set and start up options present themselves with a quick race, full Indy series and Indy 500 to select along with master class - training levels. In effect, you can pick any race and even modify the time you are on the track to your own requirements â?“ be it a long or shortish race!

All that you see and experience is taken from the real series - tracks, drivers, cars, the whole package. On the outside this Indy Sim has been perfectly hand crafted by Codemasters. Official drivers, tracks, rules and sponsors���..

If you had to differentiate between the US and European racing scene on a cosmetic level then the US is more in your face with TV presentation and slightly more over the top and proud of this fact. That said, most American events are more of a razzmatazz affair, which isnâ??t a bad thing.

With itchy fingers, and eager to go on a flying quick lap, we entered into the race to get a feel of how much of the experience could wash over us and if this really did feel different from a standard F1 game and leave a lasting impression.

Selecting Al Unser Jr, Indianapolis and easy mode, we were off although we did ponder to consider the real difference in characteristics of the car and overall feel when picking this set up. Surely it is the skill of the player and not a mere famous name that is the deciding factor to success?

With a rolling start, over the line, the race was on and the first thing we noticed was that the controls were not as responsive as we would have hoped - there could well be a reason for this (although you can adjust traction for better grip). Because we are going at breakneck speed the slightest movement left or right did not appear to be as accentuated as we would have believed. The controls were tight and very restricted.

Think about it. If you are driving at 30 mph and make a slight move to the left then not much will happen. Going at 180 mph the slightest action will have a dramatic effect. The controls, certainly not unforgiving and tight, meant that you almost had to constantly think a move ahead but that is possibly the requirements of an Indy driver. It must be said, horses for courses, and after 15 minutes play you soon felt more accustomed to the driving line and the feel of the controls and in the case of the Indy track it is concentration overload for the entire race.

Another problem you will encounter at speed, apart from constant bumping into the walls, is the fact that even the slightest bad move will see you spin off the track or worst still, being constantly clipped on the side of the car and up the backside by other competitors. Yes, you do have a mirror to use but more anticipation by other drivers, a factor out or you hands, would have been good.

Whilst on the track and driving you are constantly fed info by the commentator on your position and that of the rest of the pack. Onscreen schematics of your car show up any faults or problems â?“ like damage or the need of tyre changing or petrol -ensures you go to the pit stop at the appropriate time.

Damage of the car, other cars could turn into a series of rather spectacular shunts with bits of bodywork flying all over the track which is almost second nature to the IndyCar series. Isnâ??t this why we all love the race - more crashes and bigger than F1?

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  • Graphics: 78%
  • Sound: 82%
  • Gameplay: 72%
  • Originality: 61%
  • Longevity: 65%
Overall Score: 6/10
Whether you are a F1 or IndyCar fan, it would be fun to mixed a series of both races together (within a game) and see if the average Joe could pick out which race came from which series. We are sure most would not be able to tell, although the serious fan of racing games would, which leaves us without any doubt that both F1 and IndyCar are both adrenaline busters. The Indy tracks appear to be more straightforward and less forgiving, whilst the F1 are more complex, slower in many features and with not so much overtaking! (Both have their gameplay merits.)

Once again we harp back to the fact that the controls were not as responsive as we hoped and although this probably is tuned into the requirements of Indy racing although it made racing slightly harder or should we say more of a tussle!

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