Race in a machine built for pure speed. The licensed IndyCar Series features a tour of major arenas, including the famous Indy 500. Players slide behind the wheel of a 650 brake horsepower vehicle to blast toward the checkered flag at over 200 miles per hour. IndyCar Series comes from CodeMasters, known for other popular racing titles including both the Colin McRae Rally and ToCA Touring series.
It seems IndyCar racing has taken a back seat to NASCAR when it comes to mainstream popularity. I always remembered everyone in my family sitting down to watch at least part of the Indianapolis 500 every year. However, with NASCAR enjoying increased popularity, IndyCar coverage seems to have dwindled. I hardly see any television coverage for IndyCars or any of the IndyCar drivers in commercials. But this shouldn't distract gamers from enjoying IndyCar Series on PC.
There are several modes available in IndyCar Series, from a standard quick race mode to an in-depth season mode. The Quick Race mode allows you to jump right into a race while still allowing you to change specific settings about the race. You have the option to test drive the track, change the number of laps for the race and adjust your skill level. The skill levels range from easy to custom, and there is a huge difference between the levels. The easy skill level allows you to race without sustaining any damage to your car, having your tires wear down and unlimited fuel. As you increase the skill level, your car will take more damage, the tires on the car will wear down faster and the rules on the track are enforced. This is a great way to test your racing skills. There is nothing more humbling then to conquer the easy level and then crash & burn on the normal level.
The IndyCar Series is your opportunity to compete in the IndyCar season by racing on 15 different tracks. You have the option to set the number of laps for the race and the skill level. For each race you need to qualify to determine your starting pole position. The faster the qualifying time, the better the starting position you'll obtain. There is also the option to race as either one of the professional drivers available in the game or select your own custom driver.
But the game doesn't allow you to create your own driver right away; you have to earn this option. As you finish a race in the game, and at different skill levels, you can obtain trading cards. These trading cards are considered career goals in the game. By obtaining the different cards, you will unlock additional features in the game. The type of card rewarded is based on the skill level you select in the game. This is a great feature, but it can be distracting to some gamers. Obtaining the trading cards is difficult at the higher skill levels.
There are two other modes available in the game: Indy 500 and Masterclass. The Indy 500 mode allows you to compete in the prestigious Indianapolis 500 race. As in the real race, there are a certain number of drivers that can compete in the race. You have to qualify to determine your best lap time. The computer will then simulate the other drivers to determine their lap time. If your lap time wasn't good enough, then you could get moved into the Bump Day. The Bump Day is when you have one more chance to make it into the Indy 500. The driver with the slowest lap time is bumped out of the starting grid and out of the Indy 500.
The Masterclass mode is an excellent tutorial for racing fans and gamers. It's a great learning tool for novice race fans and drivers who are unclear about the specifics for IndyCar racing. Masterclass is composed of several different driving classes. Each class offers a short tutorial, done with the in-game graphics and narration, about a different skill set for racing an IndyCar. But, there is a catch. After the tutorial is finished there is a test to see how well you'll perform. These tests are difficult and unforgiving. You're expected to drive like an IndyCar driver, so you must follow all of the rules exactly as explained during the tutorial. You will have to take the tests several times before you complete them.
IndyCar Series offers gamers a solid racing experience. The different modes available will please most gamers with the options available. The racing action is fast and smooth, and the sense of speed during a race is impressive. IndyCar Series does what a good racing should do, plays great and is fun to play.
Gameplay in a racing game is dependent on how well your car controls. The controls are very responsive and smooth in IndyCar Series. The racing action was fast paced and there was hardly any slow down during a race. Even with a track full of cars, the gameplay never suffered. The different modes, especially the Masterclass, offer a good variety with the gameplay.
The car models are very detailed and the graphics for the different tracks are well done. The behind the car camera angle offers the most detail when viewing the cars. The in car camera mode seems to lack detail, but it offers a view as to what the driver really sees when racing. You see the tires, your hands and the steering wheel. The graphics on the other cars come across very clear and concise while in this camera angle. A true sense of speed is depicted with the graphics, which is sometimes lacking in racing games. The frame rate was very consistent during all of the races. There was an occasional stutter during the pre-race cinema, but it wasn't a major issue. However, there was a lack of detail during the victory lane celebration graphics. The character models appear to be stick figures with their face plastered on.
The sound effects of your and other cars are well done. However the music during the game does get very repetitive after only a few laps. If you have a fifty-lap race, you'll probably hear the same songs four or five times during the race. There is an option to change the audio, which I recommend for longer races. There is also a pit crew that will give you advice during the race. Most of the commentary from the pit crew is repetitive as well. The pit crew will tell you whether or not another car is next to you and how far away you are from the car in front of you.
The easy mode is very forgiving when in comes to a race. Most gamers shouldn't have a problem winning a race on the easy setting. However the tests during the Masterclass can be extremely difficult. The difficulty setting doesn't default to easy on Masterclass. You must follow all of the requirements during the test or you'll fail. Making one tiny mistake can cost you everything and you'll have to start over. This is the same when you change the difficulty to the higher settings. If you wreck during the first lap, it's possible that you're done for the entire race.
As mentioned before, the Masterclass mode is an awesome tutorial for learning about IndyCar racing. The tutorials offered are very in-depth and explain the advantages of following the lessons presented during the tutorial. The trading card mode is fun, but doesn't seem necessary. It would have been nice to have access to the different gaming options you unlock in the trading card mode available at the beginning of the game. The concept is for the player to unlock these additional features, but I was looking for the features as soon as I started the game.
IndyCar Series is a solid racing game that offers some excellent racing excitement. The racing action is fast, while still maintaining a smooth, polished feel. The controls are solid and the cars handle very well. The graphics for the car models and tracks are detailed and the frame rate is solid during a race. For the non-racing fans, I cannot stress how impressed I was with the Masterclass mode. The tutorials offered during the Masterclass are very informative. The other modes available should please most gamers, but might upset those looking for a true racing simulation game. There are different settings you can change on the car, which gives you more control of how the car handles. But all of the game options are not available immediately, since you have to unlock them by earning the in game trading cards. The repetitive music and pit crew banter does get old after a while and will probably have you reaching to mute the sound. Even with these few flaws, IndyCar Series is a great addition to a racing fan's library of titles.
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Le Mans 24 Hours, IndyCar Racing, Grand Prix Legends, Grand Prix 4, NASCAR Thunder 2004, CART Precision Racing, NASCAR Racing 2003 Season, Indianapolis 500
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