South of the Great Lakes and Kalamazoo, a few miles west of Cincinnati, lies one of the world's most famous gladiatorial arenas. But the chariots here are a far cry from El Cid: this is the home of the Indianapolis 500, America's less brutal but far more dangerous sport. For a back-breaking 500 miles, with the roar of engines constantly in their ears, America's car-crazy combatants hammer it out till death - or mere retirement - overtakes them.
There's nothing manifestly different about Indy 500 when compared to Formula One or any other motor race, although every hot-blooded American will tell you that Indy is The Most, The Biggest, The Toughest... and all the usual superlatives. As you'd expect, this is an exaggeration. But not totally.
From the moment you take your place in the cockpit, you know you have a powerful, barely controllable machine of death at your command. You appear in the pits faced with innumerable options to alter, check and generally fiddle about with. Your most likely course of action is to forget the array of wing tweaks, tyre swaps and suspension mods, and just put the hammer down. With automatic gear-changing as standard, you accelerate up to 150 mph just in time to smash into the wall at the end of the pit lane. A quick change of underwear later and you're ready to give it another go, this time saving the power until you're actually on the track.
It's then that you can begin to appreciate the real excitement of racing. Flying around the circuit, clipping bends and bouncing off the walls Donnelly-fashion, you gradually muster the skills needed to tame this beast. Mouse control, with its analogue input, is far more responsive than other methods and provides true car feel.
Screeching tyres and a sideways look at the world outside mean you're over-cooking the bends. Don't hit the brakes or you'll spin uncontrollably. Instead, ease yourself back onto the track by easing off the throttle and steering into skids and wait until the car has settled down before blasting the turbo-boosted engine back into life. If you're lucky, you'll make it back to the pits!
To enter a race, you must first qualify for a position on the start grid. This means much practising, to find the perfect balance for your car, followed by a stab at four lightning-fast laps to gel a high average lap time. Once you're happy with your start position, it's time for the real thing.
As with the rest of the game there are options: you can choose a short race without fear of car damage, or go for a full-length epic battle, complete with yellow-flag rules and the risk of engine failure or burst tyres.
Whichever race you choose, you can be sure that there'll be trouble. Cars litter the track, lurking behind corners just when you power into them with quite spectacular results, and leaders plough into your tail as they attempt to lap you. Chaos reigns supreme: unless you keep a cool head, a watchful eye and, most importantly, in front.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
Indy features some of the fastest, most detailed 3D graphics ever seen anywhere and you have plenty of opportunity to check them out using the vast range of camera views supplied - if you have a 1 Meg machine. The level of detail can be offset against speed, but even at its most colourful. Indy is gaspingly fast.
Combine the superb vector-generated racing cars with the throaty roar of their engines and you have all the atmosphere you need. You can sense the presence of faster cars by the increasing pitch of their engines. If a check in your mirror shows one there, overtaking, you hear the full doppler-effect as it whistles by. Not for the faint-hearted!
Prepare to end up like Dick Dastardly more times than is healthy, for the first few hundred laps. You'll spin, bounce, fish-tail and get punched all the way round the track before you master the technique and set the car up correctly. But frustration gives way to a need for revenge just as soon as you've got the hang of it. And from that moment on, there's no turning back. You've just got to win, to show those rednecks that you're the best on the circuit, and this could be the race that clinches it... maybe.
Car-racing games have been around since the earliest days of computers and, until now, have been predictable, derivative and less exciting with each iteration. But Indianapolis 500 captures the speed, excitement and seat-grabbing realism of racing far better than any of its predecessors. Fast 3D vector coding and awesome sounds make your stomach heave and have you leaning into bends holding your breath in anticipation.
Without doubt, Indy 500 is the best race game money can buy. A realistic, totally believable example of an old idea given new life, it comes as a breath of fresh air in what was a stagnant genre. If you've ever been remotely into real racing you'll not be disappointed. If, up to now, you've been happy with the multitude of tacky Out Run clones, now's your chance to get behind the wheel of a large automobile and have your pants scared off! Hikers, ramblers and couch-potatoes will hate it, but you're not one of those... are you?
Vector graphics based indianapolis auto simulator. Simple, but (on an A1200) very fast game.
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Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade, Formula One Grand Prix (Microprose), Indy Heat, Lemmings, Out Run, Stunt Car Racer, Test Drive, Gunship 2000 AGA
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