|Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review|
|A.P.I Review:||INDY 500|
No.1 No.2 No.3
|Game Type:||Racing||Split Screen|
|Review Date:||April 1998||Standard Joypad|
Setting the Scene
When the Playstation was first launched Sony went to great pains to promote the point that they were aiming for a slightly older audience than had previously been accepted as the norm. Their attitude was that while younger gamers messed around with Sonic and Mario on their 8 bit and 16 bit systems, the older generation could revel in games that held a more adult theme and were perhaps a little too complicated for minors to get to grips with. Thus a new generation of games appeared on the 32 bit console. As time moved on and the rather expensive launching price of the Playstation was gradually reduced, the kids traded in their Megadrives and GameBoys and jumped on board the rolling bandwagon. This created a small problem in such that not everyone was brave enough to venture into that mansion on the outskirts of Racoon, nor tackle the CyberDemon with a measly pistol during the final Onslaught. The same can be said when it came to racing games. I constantly receive email from readers who find V-Rally a little tricky, Gran Turismo far too technical, Formula 1 Grand Prix mode impossible and TOCA Touring Car just too damn hard. Yes, it's those kids again.
Indy 500 is a circuit-based racing car game from global toy kings, Tomy and has been specifically aimed at the younger Playstation owner, as opposed to those who prefer the more complicated racers of this genre. If you quickly become frustrated with racers that are designed more to spin you off the track than keep you on it, then this could be just what you are looking for. Have I fitted the correct suspension? Is my gear ratio too low? Should I choose wet or slicks? Not here, because straight from the off you will be tearing down those home straights at almost 300 kph with nothing more on your mind than having a ball.
For a racing game that was developed by a toy manufacturer and is being promoted specifically at the younger audience, I half expected the graphics to lie somewhere between Namco's aged Pole Position and a home video of the excellent Scalextric in action. Not so. Indy 500 is a true next generation title and knocks the spots off the most recent kids racing effort, Formula Karts. In fact the rolling demo at the intro would not look out of place as a warm up to the PSX Formula 1 racing game. In-game, the visuals are also rather splendid. The racing surface looks solid enough and not grainy like so many other titles while the cars are quite detailed and even gather grit on their wheels when straying from the racing track. This gradually spits off as you slowly regain your composure and gather momentum. With the damage turned on a collision will result in sections of your cars flying up into the air before falling back down onto the racing surface to pose hazards for those in your trail. Taking a corner too fast will lock up your wheels leaving behind embedded lines of burning rubber wrapped in a trail of smoke. The scenery is rather pleasing to the eye. High above in the clear blue skies a scattering of cumulous clouds calmly watch over a wide range of distracting flying attractions. Air balloons hover above the lush open fields seeking the perfect vantage point, high above cable cars can be seen crossing the mountainous regions while paragliders gently descend over the racing circuit. Even the waves appear to roll up onto the beach on the seaside course. On the home straight either side of the track is lined with packed grandstands to cheer you on while at trackside a team member stands and holds out your race orders and tactics. You can't actually read them, but it's a nice little touch. The rest of your crew wait patiently in the pit lane for your arrival. As soon as you issue them with instructions they set about their tasks hauling on a fresh set of tyres and topping up your fuel tank. Other pointers that catch your eye are the large video screens that projects the track action to the crowd while almost every prime spot is lined with advertising hoardings and billboards offering further realism to the event. The racing action can be viewed from three different angles - high above and behind your vehicle, low and behind and the now customary in-car view. When racing with the in-car view you actually get quite a feeling of speed as the track rushes by at a commendable frame rate. There is a small amount of pop-up on the horizon but not enough to affect your judgement of the track ahead. Once a race is over you can sit back and watch a replay of the race from alternative camera angles.
Sounds and Effects
The engine sounds are quite high pitched and although not entirely realistic they hit the standard set by most other racing games... noisy. Collisions offer a quick thumping sound and skids a prolonged screech that sends your reactions into panic mode. Actually if you hang around long enough to watch the after race replay the sound effects seem vastly improved. The style of music used in Indy 500 has become quite synonymous with the racing genre being a mixture of acceptable rock tunes and something else that I can only describe as elevator music. I think I normally explain it as Sim City music because that's the game it always reminds me of. The 'commentary' is quite horrendous and thankfully he only pipes up when you do something wrong. Oh, and he counts you into the race in a style that is normally reserved for TV WWF wrestling. Don't ask me what is said during the race because I haven't got a clue. It sounds like 'have you had any breakfast yet!' For some reason he also shouts GOAL when a race is finished. Strange person.
On with the race. For what is designed to be a fairly simple arcade racing title there are a few tweaks and turns available in the options. There are three modes of play which are Time Attack, 2 Player vs and Indy 500. Time Attack is your everyday 'practice the circuits against the clock' mode that includes the option of breaking the boredom by racing against a ghost car. The two player mode is viewed in horizontal split screen and chugs along at a fair old rate. Unfortunately it is only available as a head to head but you may use the catch up option by selecting to switch the handicap on. Indy 500 involves a solo qualifying period of one warm up and two laps against the clock to determine your starting position on the grid. Before you begin you must choose one of the three difficulty settings and decide on the length of the race from 6 to 40 laps. Yellow flags may be switched on along with the car damage while the weather options include rain, fair or random. There are initially three courses available. Indianapolis 500 is the giant oval where speed is essential. Strangely enough this turns out to be one of the tougher courses because of the slight gradient and apparent sharpness of the curves when travelling at high speed. Once you get your brake timing correct it is all a matter of judging your overtaking maneuvers. The Mountain course has one or two tricky bends but should pose little problems after a few laps. Most of the track is lined with gravel pits which upon contact will grind you to a sudden stop leaving you to carefully crawl back onto the racing surface. The Park is a winding, testing circuit with many bridges to cross and tunnels to pass through. There is also a series of very tight corners to negotiate. Even the straights have the occasion barrier jutting out onto the track. Your car selection is basically a chance to pick your favorite color but each may be tuned at the Car Settings option. Auto and manual transmission is available. There are four grades of acceleration and the same number of tyre options. Up to 40 gallons of fuel may be loaded while the front and rear downforce each have five settings from low to high. Every time you activate a change your pit crew will pick up their tools and carry out your instructions. Once qualifying is over you take your place on the starting grid among twenty five other competitors. The camera gracefully rolls over the impressive line up of racing cars and then with a rolling start your off. The controls are fairly straightforward - accelerate, brake, rear view and gears (optional). I wasn't entirely convinced with the handling when I first picked up the control pad but then I had only just pushed aside a copy of Gran Turismo which was slightly unfair. When cornering it appeared that the entire vehicle moved with one single action rather than the front moving first and the rear following it. It actually reminded me of when I was young and not being able to afford a Matchbox car so I pushed an empty box of matches around the chair legs on the living room carpet. Strangely enough if you persevere you quickly get use to this problem and learn how to adapt. From then on it is only a matter of time before you are chalking up a victory on each of the circuits.
Value for Money
Don't be so selfish. Buy it for your kids.
suppose with so few tracks longevity does come into question but bearing
in mind that I recently acquired my A International driving licence in
Gran Turismo then perhaps I was overqualified to judge this racer. Had
Indy 500 claimed to be on a par with Formula 1 '97 then I would have
seriously marked down this game. But it's not, so I didn't and judging
by the reaction of my young son to Indy 500 then perhaps Tomy may have
found a nice little niche in the market.
Now for my rating kiddies.
If you had 100 lollipops and took 15 away. What would that leave me?
Probably a black eye.