Whoa, a racing title from Codemasters! Sublime graphics, realistic sound, hours of exciting gameplay and an experience that you won’t ever forget. That’s the feeling I had about Codemasters racing games before this one. The TOCA series are much loved by the gamers both arcade and sim fans. However, when you think about Indycar racing, you think about ovals, circles and other round shapes because that’s what it’s all about: riding around in circles.
The game has five different modes: Quick Race, Indycar Series, Indianapolis 500, Masterclass and Multiplayer. Quick race speaks for itself while Indycar Series represents the career part of the game in which you have to race the whole season and try to end at the top of the ranking by performing at your best in all races. Indianapolis 500 is the legendary race from the Indycar Series and you can choose to race only that one but you have to qualify for it. Masterclass represents the tutorial of the game and you get lessons from no one else than Eddie Cheever Jr. himself (if you are excited now, you definitely are a fan). These lessons teach you all there is to know about racing the Indycar and they made me realize that it’s not as easy as it seems. Not only do you have stay on the road, you have to time everything from cutting the turns to slipstreaming. The last part they teach you here is how to tune the car. This is really something for people with either a lot of time or people who know what they are doing. Multiplayer is, for me, the most fun. You can take on your friends in a split screen oval battle but prepare some snacks of you are planning on racing a full race.
The graphics of the game are decent but there is not much to render in the game so you get this weird feeling of emptyness when playing. You’ve got your underground, some tribunes and a pit. The pit stop is also poorly animated; in fact it’s not animated at all. The car models are good but not amazing and you can see it’s a PS2 port.
The sound is better, the engines make an impressive sound and hearing them roar all together at the start is pretty nice. The effects within the game are nice to hear but they are standard in most games as well. Every track has its own presentation which is nice and adds to the atmosphere. The soundtrack is OK and even has a nice rock tune from time to time.
Racing a sim or an arcade, we still need some decent controls and I must say that they are pretty good in the game. You can of course mess them up completely by tweaking the car but if you stay clear from doing that, the cars handle fine. Tweaking them can improve your speed and you’ll need to do that to win races but generally tweaking means giving up things for greater speed. Finding the balance is the road to success.
Conclusion: Overall I found this game to be pretty average and very boring after some time. There is something about riding in circles for an hour that depresses me. I can only recommend this game to gamers who like tweaking or are complete Indycar fans. For other people this game is just not accessible enough and doesn’t have anything special to make it a must have. A small note for the people who want to buy it: I reviewed the Final Review code and I found some bugs that might not be in the retail version. For an example: When playing multiplayer I was leading the race in lap 31/50 and my brother was driving in lap 30/50. I was on his tail and I passed him just before the finish. Suddenly he was race leader with 31/50 laps and I was racing in lap 30. A few seconds later my car stopped responding and just drove the race itself at 90mph. Pretty weird stuff like that happened in the career mode too once or twice. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.