Indianapolis 500

Title           Indianapolis 500
Game Type       Driving
Publisher       Papyrus Software and Electronic Arts
Players         1
Compatibility   OCS, ECS and AGA (no enhancements for better chipsets.)
HD Installable  Yes with WHDLoad Patch
Submission      Nathan Wain

A racing simulation of the famous Indy 500 race.  So it involves
travelling around one of those simple oval tracks like a bat out of
hell. (Something that isn't so simple when you have 30 other cars
trying to do the same.)

The outside world is represented with filled-vector graphics, while
your own car, viewed from within the cockpit, is a pre-drawn image.
(With front-tyres that both animate to indicate speed and steering, and
move to indicate accelleration and body-roll.)

Mouse, Joystick and Keyboard are all supported.  (Mouse gives the best
steering control.)  Unfortunately, analogue joysticks are not supported
like they were in the PC version.  (And having played the PC version,
I'm painfully aware of what a shame that is.)

I would recommend a fast processor. (On a 50MHz 030 the game can be
run at full graphic-detail with very little slowdown. On a 7Mhz A500,
the game runs at a good frame rate with minimum detail.)

Manual based: When the game first loads, a question must be answered
from the stats-pages of the manual to gain entry to the game.

A500, 0.5Meg Chip, 0.5Meg Fast, Kickstart 1.2, external Floppy drive,
Thompson RGB monitor.

A1200, 2Meg Chip, 32Meg Fast, Kickstart 3.0, 340 Meg Seagate 2.5" HDD,
GVP Cobra accellerator-board (68030 and 68882 at 50MHz, without SCSI),
additional floppy-drive, Supra 14.4k Modem, 1942 MultiSync monitor.

A4000, 2Meg Chip, 16Meg Fast, Kickstart 3.1, 1.2 Gig Quantum HDD,
Toshiba 16x CD-Rom, additional floppy-drive, Supra 14.4k Modem, 1942
Multisync monitor.  (Standard 25MHz 68030 CPU)

Apart from the performance boost from faster processors, Indy500
behaved identically on all three machines.

I never had much motivation to try the installer, since it's just one
of those single-disk games that loads virtually all of its data on
booting...  (One of the few floppy-loaders that doesn't bother the hell
out of me these days.)  For this review I finally dug out the original
disk, downloaded the WHDLoad installer and gave it a go.

Wow, this is cool.  (The installer worked very nicely, except the disk-
imaging program ain't the most intuitive in the world.)  Now I not only
have Indy 500 running from the Hard-drive.  (ie: loading instantly.)  I
also have that irritating manual-protection removed, and I can just
press the number-lock key to quit back to the Workbench.  ...Can you
say "cooler than a cool thing on a rather un-warm day?" :)  Now why
didn't I do this install-thing sooner?

The game handles OCS, ECS and AGA chipsets without trouble.  It uses an
NTSC-size screen, and works with NTSC and PAL screenmodes. I used to
promote the game to NTSC with "RunIt", because I have a PAL Amiga and
hate to see the gap at the bottom of a PAL screen.  Also I prefer the
higher screen-refresh. (The WHDLoad program does the screen-promotion
for me now.)

It utilises faster processors for a faster frame-rate. (I'm not aware
of any incompatibility with 040 or 060 processors.)

A simple booklet style manual, which gives a history of the Indy 500
track, covers basic racing-theory, hints about car-setup, and a history
of winners of the Indianapolis 500 race.  The menus, keys, and
dashboards of the three makes of car available, were all explained to
my satisfaction.

Tries the game for a couple of laps...  This is cool!  It's one of those
rare breed of racing simulations that you can just sit down in and drive.
It also has the most realistic and beautifully un-computer-assisted
driving feel I have experienced on an Amiga driving game.  Microproses
"Formula One Grand Prix" is good, but the steering is always computer-
assisted, and it lacks the cool squishy-suspension and body-roll that
Indy 500 has that I enjoy so much.  (Such seemingly superfluous touches
give excellent visual feedback on what's happening to the car.)

The default car-settings are controllable, and will allow you to drive
reasonably competitively.  But to consistantly win races you will need
to fine-tune the suspension, wings, tyres, and gearing.  (And, in my
case, stop driving like a madman.) :(

With so many cars on the track, it is also possible to have some
spectacular multi-car pile-ups.  And once you discover the action replay
options, you can have endless hours of fun trying to create such
crashes for your viewing pleasure. :)

You can Practice, Qualify, and Race.

Practice puts you on in the pits with just a few other drivers on the
track. The ideal time for tweaking your car setup, or trying to find a
good racing-line through those corners. (Cornering is everything.)

Qualify puts you into a rolling start just before the start/finish
line, and this time the track is empty.  You have to drive 4 laps in
the fastest time possible, the average lap time deciding you position
in the starting-grid.  The tiniest bit of a speed boost can change your
position significantly. So low fuel-levels and settings that could
blow the engine in a longer sprint are the norm here. (As the manual
states: It's not unusual for a driver to have one car-setup for racing,
and another entirely less conservative setup for the qualifying laps.)

Race puts you into a rolling start amongst the grid of 32 other cars.
If you have been through the qualification phase, your position is
determined by your qualifying-time relative to the computer cars.  If
you just went straight to the race, you will be at the back of the
grid.  (Fighting your way to the front is actually a lot of fun.)

There are 4 types of race you can try.  The first one is a 10 lap (25
mile) race, where there are no yellow-flags, and your car is
invulnerable. :) The second is 30 laps (75 miles) and your car is
still invulnerable.  The third and fourth races are 60 laps (150 miles)
and 200 laps (500 miles) respectively, with a car that can crash out of
the race just as easily as all the other cars.

If you are not familiar with what a yellow-flag situation is:  It's
when there is an accident, and all vehicles have to slow down and
remain in their present order behind the race-leader.  This allows for
the debris and vehicle(s) involved in the accident to be cleared from
the track. Once the track is clear the race continues.

So in the 10 lap race, where there is no yellow flag situation, any
cars that crash remain on the track.  Possibly blocking parts of the
track for the entirety of the race. Thus often contributing to even
more accidents. (...Aggressive drivers can have *so* much fun in the
10 lap race.) :)

This is one of those deceptively simple games.  *Anyone* can just sit
down and try this game, have a quick blat 'round the track and have a
great time.  But when you realise that the whole feel of the car isn't
hard-wired into the game, and the characteristics of the car are
affected by: The hardness of the suspension, the cambre (angle) of the
wheels, the gear-ratio's, the angle of the wings, the weight of the
fuel(!) it becomes apparent that there's a huge amount to keep those
hard-core racing nutters (me!) happy.

To add to the complexity, there are three types of car you can race in:
March/Cosworth, Lola/Buick, and Penske/Chevrolet.  Each has its own
dash-board layout, driving-characteristics, and even engine-sound.
(The Buick really does have that characteristic deep engine sound you'd
expect from the real thing.)  Oh, and the Chevrolet is really a great
car to drive, so don't be put off by its ugly digital dashboard and
colouring. :)

Once you have chosen a car and fine-tuned it to your hearts content, it
really feels like you've made the car yours. My own car is a Penske /
Chevrolet with very hard suspension, hard tyre compounds, and fast
wing-settings. It goes like a bat out of hell, but you can *really*
run into trouble fast. (I go for speed at all costs.) :)

The skill of the computer-controlled cars can not be altered.  And yet,
this has never been an issue to me.  The great thing about there being
so many cars (33) on the track is that their skills vary widely enough
that all but the worst of human (or even non-human?) players will
find themselves being able to beat at least some of the cars. Myself,
I can easily finish in the top 10. Consistently making it into the top
five is still a challenge, and I like it that way.

Racing is always a bit of a lottery, so I can't imagine this game ever
becoming boring.  And while I continue to race as dangerously as I do,
I can't imagine I'll ever be consistently beating the field.  A little
oval track can be so much fun when it's filled with 33 speed-freaks.

Huge complexity that remains hidden from the first-time user.  (Not
many programmers manage to design things so nicely.)  And many of the
fiddly settings can be adjusted while you drive - but only during
practice of course, to prevent cheating.  It's great to have new wing
and cambre settings, and then be able to make that final adjustment to
the tyre-pressure while driving at over 200 mph to keep the tyre
temperatures even.  Having to go back to the pits to do that would be
such a pain.  (I pity those poor drivers in the real world.)

You can skip qualification and jump right into the race if you want to.
(nice)  And quit out and restart a race if you crash out in the first
few seconds.  (Cheating a little, but still nice.)

You can keep up to three sets of car-settings saved to disk together
with the most-spectacular action-replay footage for later viewing.
(And it's all kept on the *one* game disk.  No disk-swapping, ever.)

The mouse-sensitivity can be adjusted.  I have 3 mice, and all of them
have differing levels of sensitivity.  And the 3 graphic-complexity
options cater well for the power of all 68k processors.  (Overall, I
feel they've made a damn good compromise between realism and speed in
this game.)

The first thing I have to do when I start this game is load my team
then load my car settings.  It would be nice to be able to set these as
the default. That's the only thing that irritates me.

Analogue-Joystick control would have been nice.  A hard-drive installer
would have been nice too - but since the WHDLoad installer is far more
system-friendly than an installer from this era would have been, I'm
kind of glad the authors never made it installable.

Texture-mapped graphics, weather effects, and the ability to flip the
cars would be cool.  But since no other racing-game had that kinda
stuff back then, I'll just accept it as a great game for its time.
I would have liked to see a serial-link option though. That really
would have rocked.

Compares well with Formula One Grand Prix from Microprose. The two
products each simulate quite different style of race, and approach
the whole task from an entirely different angle.  So I'm reluctant to
compare them.  I think most racing-sim enthusiasts would like to have
both of these titles in their collection. (As I do.)

F1GP has all of the complex tracks and twiddly little options to keep
you happy till the cows come home.  But unfortunately still manages to
have a *little* bit of a synthesised driving feel in the end.  Indy 500
gives you the raw racing experience, and shoves the options into the
background so you don't have to be intimidated by them.  But the
options still allow you to change things so you end up driving an
entirely different kind of car.

Every other driving game I've seen has been a mere game in comparison.
Except for Revs on the c64, but that can be considered a sort of
prequel to F1GP anyway.  (Same author and all that.)

Haven't found a single bug.  Thus I officially declare this game as
perfect. :)

You might think that driving around a track with only four left-hand
turns could be boring. You would be *so* wrong.

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