The ultimate racing event on many a motoring maestro's calendar, the Indianapolis 500 really is the Greatest Spectacle in Racing (it says so on the official website, y'know). Every year, the creme-de-la-creme of the racing set gather to take part in one of the most prestigious competitions in the world, and battle it out in the final high-octane dash for the finish line. And now you can be part of all that ego-stroking, tyre-tampering action, courtesy of those petrol-sniffing types at Codemasters.
Setting new standards in levels of realism and detail, IndyCar Series is one of the most mind-achingly accurate sims we've seen for a good long while. The in-game action is remarkably convincing - and it's all thanks to those development boffs at Brain in a Jar, who've built in a revolutionary driver AI system designed to make opponents smarter than ever. It's not just the opposition that's sporting souped-up features; the vehicles have been developed to behave in exactly the same way that they would respond to real-life track conditions, creating an impressively authentic and intuitive driving experience. The idiosyncrasies of the open-wheel car have been translated faithfully, and high-speed knocks to your car will send you flipping and spinning into the air - and out of the race - in no time.
There's also good news for all you bolt-bothering addicts, because the advanced levels allow you to modify your pride and joy to your heart's content, and take total control of your vehicle's performance. Player Profile gives you the chance to form your very own team, and personalise every detail, right down to your vehicle's design. In addition to the standard Quick Play arcade mode, which gives you access to all the teams from the start, there's the Indy 500 proper, which puts you right in the thick of the action - and through a series of qualifying stages in the quest to lift the cup.
Graphically, IndyCar Series is streets ahead of many of the current racing sims on the block; if you like your driving games as realistic as they come, then this really is a worthy addition to the collection. The lighting effects, scenery and crowd scenes are beautifully rendered, and the cars themselves stand out as some of the most accurately recreated bits of machinery you're likely to come across this side of the GT series. The intensity of the event is captured brilliantly too, with the handling of your car at speeds in excess of 200mph interpreted in a truly convincing manner. One for petrol-heads and nut-tighteners for sure, but IndyCar Series is also accessible enough for newbie racers too...
- Take your pick from over 27 cars, 14 official tracks and 15 races
- Masterclass mode for learning all the manoeuvres, taught by Eddie Cheever - past winner of the Indy 500
- Player Profile allows amazing levels of personalisation for your team