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 Review BRIEF DESCRIPTION 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.) SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS 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.) COPY PROTECTION 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. MACHINES USED FOR TESTING 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. INSTALLATION 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? COMPATIBILITY 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.) DOCUMENTATION 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. FIRST IMPRESSIONS 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. :) GAMEPLAY 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. YELLOW FLAGS 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.) :) GENERAL OPINION 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. LIKES 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.) DISLIKES AND SUGGESTIONS 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. COMPARISON TO OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCTS 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.) BUGS Haven't found a single bug. Thus I officially declare this game as perfect. :) CONCLUSIONS You might think that driving around a track with only four left-hand turns could be boring. You would be *so* wrong.