IGN Review of Indianapolis 500 Legends
Wii has had a shortage of good racing games since its initial release back in late 2006. For whatever reason, the simple concept of tilt control has been adopted time and time again, but a core racing engine that delivers a truly in-depth experience has yet to be seen. As far as serious racing goes, players are left pretty high and dry. In an attempt to go a bit more traditional in its racing design, Destineer Studios hired on Torus games to take on a budget title based on the historic tradition of the Indianapolis 500. From the very beginning Indy 500 Legends has made it known its intentions, which are to deliver an accurate, entertaining ode to racing's greatest event. Now that we've taken our turns around the historic track, we've got the verdict.
There are a few pretty big risks that go along with a game like Indianapolis 500 Legends; some of which were handled well, while others pulled the overall experience down a bit. For starters, this type of professional lap racing is only going to hit a very specific crowd, so gamers that are looking for a fast-paced, arcade-like experience are going to be disappointed. Indy cars get up to some pretty high marks now days, but since this is a historic racing game you'll find that the speed is lower, while the technical driving stays the same. You'll use drafting, slingshot maneuvers, and pit during race challenges, but it's a slower overall experience than most gamers may expect.
That being said, the control works perfectly fine, and once you're in-game you'll tear around the track with some of the most reliable and slick feeling tilt control thus far in a Wii racing game. When we played the game a few months back the control was there, and we were waiting to see if the rest of the game would adopt the same polish, be it on the visual front, or in the depth and presentation of the whole experience. The final product still feels great while you take tight turns and cut between crashes, but it still shows far too many symptoms of budget titles, which includes a lack of polish, plain visuals, and a thin overall product.
Another aspect of the more realistic, historic side of the game that ends up hurting it a bit is the lack of drivers and cars during any given situation. The challenge mode makes up the bulk of the experience, as you'll need to take the role of each Indy driver and actually qualify for races, play key moments of historic situations (usually lasting about five or so laps long), and then polish off the end of the race with a placing finish. Since 500 laps could take well over five hours depending on the era you're driving in, the game breaks these challenges up into the historical hot spots instead, so if a huge crash happened in lap 137 of a specific race in real life, you'll more than likely be there to survive it in the game. On that front, Indy 500 can be a fun look back at the world of racing for true fanatics of the sport. For others, the fact that you're often tethered to specific racers with their actual cars is going to turn people off, as there's no tweaking to your rig, no upgrading of parts or cars, and no actual progression in a career with any of the racers. You use what they had; no more, no less.
To add a bit more depth to the game the team over at Torus added in some simple pit mini-games that are meant to simulate the actual pit situations in an Indy race. While driving a chalk board will slide into view from the left, signaling the need for a pit. Drive in, and you'll perform tire changes and gas refills via IR challenges (surprisingly similar to a car version of Cooking Mama). The concept for these mini missions are fine, but the execution is pretty weak, showing some extremely basic graphics and using some pretty sketchy animations in the process. It's obvious that this was meant to be a more intense portion of the experience, but in the end we'd assume budget and time constraints got in the way, and the final product feels more like an afterthought than any other section of the game.
©2008-01-10, IGN Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved