After the crushing disappointment with last years IndyCar Series, I was a little apprehensive about picking up the mis–titled IndyCar Series 2005 when it arrived during the summer.
Last years’ effort had been so bad that if it hadn’t been for the fact I’m a huge fan of the sport, I probably wouldn’t have gone near the sequel. Fortunately, however, ICS 2005 turned out to be a vast improvement over the original, although not as entirely new a title as the 2005 postfix would suggest.
For a start, the twitchy car handling is comparable to last time, if a little more forgiving, although that doesn’t mean it’s easy. If you’re looking for an arcade racer then Burnout 3 is what you’re after. IndyCar Series 2005 is as hardcore as console racing games come – the default set-up for every track is pretty much unusable, and you’ll have to put many miles of test laps in to dial down the car for your personal style of racing.
This is both a strength and a weakness – casual gamers will be horrified at the almost vertical learning curve – just being consistent enough not to clip the outside wall is a real challenge until you have the car handling with any degree of predictability. But for gamers who like their racers to have a bit of depth and customisation it should come as a welcome diversion from the power-up’s and short cuts found in every other game on the shelves.
The in-game graphics are unspectacular to say the least, and virtually unchanged from last time out. Compare it to the latest PS2 or XBox titles and you have yourself a game that looks quite dated. But then, how many other racing games are chucking the player and up to 32 AI cars around tracks in excess of 200 miles an hour? Regardless of the bland graphics, what you’re here for is the racing, and for the most part ICS 2005 delivers on the premise of the sport. Racing is ridiculously fast, close, and mistakes are punished harshly, making every on track decision just that much more tense. Until you learn that backing off is sometimes the better choice than a huge wreck, the game will bite you time and again.