Thrills and Spills
The PPG/CART world
series, once called "IndyCars" until the upstart Indy Racing
League claimed the Indy name, is arguably the most entertaining open-wheel
motor racing series on Earth. It's exciting, ultra-competitive, and has
yet to succumb to the endless political BS of the Formula I series.
Of course that doesn't
mean a game based on the series is any good, but fortunately this sequel
to Papyrus' first IndyCar racing game is just as entertaining as the real
life equivalent. It proves that not only have computer racing simulations
gotten very good, but that driving a car in the PPG/CART series is HARD!
You'll gain a new respect for the Al Unser Jrs and Paul Tracys of the
world after a few laps around any of the 15 tracks on this CD-ROM.
And those tracks are
as varied as the PPG/CART series, though they date back to the 1995 series
and so some of the tracks are no longer raced (New Hampshire International
Speedway included, unfortunately, though the inclusion of the "Milwaukee
Mile" helps make up for that) and some new tracks, like Rio, aren't
included. Still, there's enough variety to satisfy fans of ovals, road
courses, and temporary street circuits - one of the wrinkles of the CART
series that makes it the best there is: each track is different, with
its own flavour and challenges.
can practice, participate in a single race, or do an entire Championship
season, and your car has all the adjustments you could desire; you can
mess with your turbo boost and front and rear anti-roll bars while you're
screaming around the track at 200 mph, and while in the garage your crew
can tweak your chassis (Lola, Penske, or Reynard) to get that extra little
bit out of it.
choices, you can choose Goodyear or Firestone tires and Mercedes, Ford,
or Honda engines. And you can even paint your car the way you want it.
a driving tips section in the manual that can help you get the best out
of your car and the track it's on.
The racing action
itself is first rate. Our reviewer, a roller coaster fan, started out
on the Laguna Seca track in California because it offered the "Corkscrew"
combination of hill and curves that look so cool on TV. And he wasn't
disappointed - but was surprised at just how difficult that track is to
maneuver. And that's nothing: once you've mastered the intricacies of
the track, you have to learn how to do it in traffic - and that's a whole
very good, depending on how you put the settings. The defaults are fairly
sparse, but they don't affect the racing quality. If you turn on all the
options it gets much better, right down to skid marks on the track, but
it may get choppy on slower systems. We ran it on a Pentium 133 with 32
Meg of RAM and 4 Meg of video RAM and it only got choppy when there were
lots of cars nearby on the track (even more incentive to keep the other
drivers behind you!).
We never did
screw up the nerve during our review to allow our car to receive the damage
it would if we hadn't shut off the damage. It may have been more realistic,
but it would have made our races last about a lap and a half at best.
That's because the racing action is excellent - and those other guys can
appear almost from nowhere and the first thing you know you're doing a
wild series of 360's before slamming into the barrier. It's bad enough
to go from second place to 28th without losing your front wing in the
One thing you
don't get with the Windows 95 version, but which Mac owners do, is radio
communication with your pit crew. We also didn't really think the sounds
were that realistic, though we don't have the real life experience on
which to draw to confirm that. Still, the sounds are good enough and the
rest of the game's quality more than makes up for it.
This is a very
addictive game. We played it using CH
Products' Racing Wheel, and must say that having a real steering wheel
to use is the only way to play a racing game. The combination made it
very difficult to get any other work done.
Sure is tough
having a job like this...
Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think