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IndyCar Series

Platform(s): Arcade, Game Boy Advance, GameCube, Nintendo DS, PC, PSOne, PSP, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360
Genre: Racing


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PS2 Review - 'IndyCar Series'

by Hank on June 7, 2003 @ 12:47 a.m. PDT

Type : Racing
Developer : Codemasters
Publisher : Codemasters
Release Date : May 23, 2003

Buy 'INDYCAR SERIES': Xbox | PC | PlayStation 2

Going over 200 MPH, it’s a hot pursuit. Thirty-three cars racing at crazy speeds trying to overtake one another, and prove they are the racing king. If you are wondering “can this possible be legal?” I’ll give you the answer to that, “Yes it is!” Welcome to Codemasters’ IndyCar Series.

This is one of the better Indy Car racing games out in the market, having the most intense, as well as the most complicated, game play available to this point! The reason I say this is because, in my opinion, the learning curve for this game is incredibly steep. If you’ve read my review of Winning Eleven 6, when I said that the game was hard it was only because there were so many buttons, but this game takes the meaning of hard to a whole new level. This is because I get passed so easily on the tracks that it’s not even funny. I can’t seem to understand how to maintain the straightest line or a high enough top speed to overtake other cars. Well enough of my ranting, let’s check out the controls.

There are a total of 12 different control settings. It would have been better if there was a customizable settings but this is good enough. The controls for the game are more complex then a standard racing game. I’ll start off with the basic controls: steering, throttle, brake, Gear down, Gear up, Change camera, and look back. Now onto the controls that make this game unique: “fuel mixture” and the “weight jacker”. These controls give you an extra control of your vehicle giving you a little speed boast necessary for the win. The fuel mixture in the game allows the player to control how much fuel consumption is used. The higher the mixture the more speed you get but with more gas used, the lower the mixture the less speed and less consumption. Use this wisely since you do not want to be pitting too often just to refuel. Next would be the weight jacker which allows the driver to compensate for over steering or under steering. This is only a temporarily fix, it would be wise to pit when you need to fix your settings. But if you can get a true understanding of the weight jacker it will give you the extra advantage necessary to become an annoying foe. Remember get use to your controls before you start.

The game has a total of 7 modes. They would be Quick Race, Indy Car Series, The Indianapolis 500, Multiplayer, MasterClass (Classes), Player Profile, and Options. I will first go over MasterClass since it’s the most vital option to start the game off in. The MasterClasses are a bunch of lessons which teach you how to race well on a course. The courses would be about: Basic car control, Advanced Car Control, Maximizing performance, Qualification, Racing Techniques, The Pits, The caution Period, The IndyCar Series. This is not only some sort of tutorial but they are also tests, you are required to beat in a certain set timeframe, there are 3 sets of times the first set will get you bronze, second set silver, and the utter crazy one gold medal. Make sure you get a true understanding of these classes; the reason is because it will give you a better chance at winning. These classes are your bible, learn them, memorize them, and recite them. When you finish these classes you are now ready for the races.

Quick race is the first racing mode available. In this mode you race on whatever track you wish. This is just a friendly race where you can gain experience racing computer opponents. The options available would be Test run, Start race, Driver, Track, and last but not least skill level. Quick race mainly gives the user a feel for the different skill levels available for play. The three levels would be Easy, Normal, and Pro. In Easy there is no car damage, fuel or tire wear, as well as a simplified car structure. For normal it is upped a notch with simplified car damage and implements a few race rules. Last but not least is the full on racing action Pro. In this level your car has full damage, all the racing rules as well as fuel use and tire wear. But there is one option solely available in Quick race that option is Custom set. This allows the player to set the rules as well as car damage in the race. The options available would be Damage: AI cars only, None, Simple, or Full. Fuel and Tire wear on or off, as well as Penalties. And last option would be your grid position: this is your starting position for the race. Once you’ve set these you are ready to choose your driver and track to race on. The available drivers are: Airton Dare, AL Unser JR, Alex Barron, Anthony Lazzaro, Arie Luyendyk, Billy Boat, Buddy Lazier, Buddy Rice, Dan Wheldon, Eddie Cheever Jr., Eliseo Salazar, Felipe Giaffone, George Mack, Gilde Ferran, Helio Castroneves, Jaques Lazier, Jeff Ward, Laurent Redon, Richie Hearn, Rick Treadway, Robbie Buhl, Robby McGehee, Sam Hornish Jr., Sarah Fisher, Scott Sharp, Shigeaki Hattori, and Tony Renna. The available tracks are: Indianapolis, Texas, Pikes Peak, Richmond, Kansas, Nashville, Michigan, Kentucky, Gateway, Chicagoland, Miami, Phoenix, California, and Nazareth. Once you’ve chosen your driver and track you then set the laps and opponents for the race. You are now ready for the races. Rather then rushing onto the track it is very wise to do a Test Run first. The reason for this is because it allows you to understand the track as well as tune up your car before the race. This is required if you wish to have a fighting chance to win. You have almost the same options in the other modes as well. The only difference is that rather then a single race it is a series. For IndyCar series, you race in a series of races. The same goes for The Indianapolis 500. But unlike IndyCar series you are guaranteed a space to race. For the Indianapolis 500 if you don’t qualify within the top 32 you will not be able to race. But once you have qualified your ready to compete now get onto the circuit and win.

But before you get on the track you should always fix up your car for the best possible options. While in the pit you can change several different options those would be: Pressure, Springs, Dampers, Ride Height, Gears, Camber, Toe In, and Wings. Make sure you make the necessary adjustments for each track. The better you are at tuning your car the better you will do in the races.

When you are in the race you will see several different options on the screen. As mentioned before there is the fuel, and weight jacker. But these are not the only items shown on the screen you will also see the cars speed, transmission, car damage, and current lap position. But the most impressive feature would be the Draft meter. The meter is what makes the game truly stand out. As you should know when traveling at incredible high speeds you will go against a lot of wind. Well this applies to IndyCar as well, so a way to avoid this is to follow behind a car. This is quite wise because the car in front of you would be the one cutting through the wind losing speed while you sit in the back relaxing and enjoying the extra boast. And when you think the time is right this extra boast will allow you to pass the other opponent, truly an awesome system. You should at all times keep an eye on these options as well as on the road.

The graphics in the game are quite nice. They are crisp and are what you expect to see from an IndyCar game. Since the tracks are all oval you cannot expect much other graphics to accompany it. That is why you shouldn’t expect trees or other background images to enhance the video, which is quite adequate for this game. The quality level of the graphics is quite acceptable, and you actually have to give Codemasters props for not having grainy graphics with this many cars on screen. But what is really great to see is when there are crashes. Oh man the crashes are sweet. Depending on how the other cars hit each other the car will flip, spin out or even topple over. Making an incredible scene to watch, but watch for openings since you do not want to be part of this crash. Not only should you watch out for these accidents you should also watch the road and your opponents. The reason for this is quite simply, if you pay attention to the road you will see a shadow mark marking the straightest path available, and secondary, keep an eye on your opponents so you can block their overtake path and not crash into them.

Not only do you need to keep your eyes on the ball (figure of speech, no REALLY) you also need to listen closely and pay attention. The sound in the game fits almost perfectly since the game itself has several different types of interaction with your ears. The first one would definitely be the BGM music that is playing, the rock type music is perfect for a game like this. The next would be the sound of your engine, which is quite important to know when to shift the gears you’ll hear the engine screaming for you to do it. But last but not least the most important aspect of the game is the vocal instructions coming from the pit. The pit constantly informs you of your position, how far behind or in front of the opponent you are running, how you did that lap, and when to pit. You should always listen to the crew for they are your other set of eyes. Believe every word they say, only downside is that it’s only available in single play.

In multiplayer you can play against a friend and 8 other computer opponents. The graphics greatly declines, which is quite visible. But the game was never centered around multiplayer play. The heart of the game is in single player. Multiplayer play is very similar to quick race, you almost have all the same options other than the ability to tweak the Custom rules and settings. I do not understand why they did not include that but they may have their reasons. Even though the multiplayer play is a great addition I would really like to see a race with another human and 32 other opponents keeping up decent graphics. Now that would just put me in awe. Probably won’t see that for ages, but this will suffice quite well, for the time being.

This is definitely a great game. It implements almost all of the realistic features found in an IndyCar race, making it quite impressive. With all the rules and car features implemented it almost feels like you are truly at the races. Not only that the tires are also tire sensitive, meaning that when the road is hotter you will have more traction making it easier to drive. With this much realism the game is truly a great IndyCar game. The only downside is that the game has an incredibly high learning curve. If you can get used to it, the game would be your best friend. It may take time and effort but once you’ve understand it you will truly be a master. Another downside is that the game does not support the wheel. I can somewhat understand the reason behind this but I own the Logitech MOMO wheel. So if that wheel was supported the realism of the game would move up tenfold. This game is definitely an awesome game, but as I said before this game is not easy. With the retail of $39.99 I suggest you rent it before you buy to see if you are truly fit for this game. For you IndyCar fans out there definitely go buy this puppy, it has all the realistic factors you could wish for.

Score : 9.0 / 10

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