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Indianapolis 500 Legends review

Mediocre
AT A GLANCE
  • Cheap
  • Steering isn't half bad
  • Pit stop management
  • Suicidal opponents
  • All Indy, all the time
  • Plays like a cheap game

We have to hand it to the developers of Indianapolis 500 Legends: they've got balls. Does Electronic Arts, the largest game publisher in the world, have the nerve to make a Madden football game with only the Dallas Cowboys? Of course not. Does Nintendo, a company whose corporate philosophy is apparently, "Screw you. We'll do what we want." have the stones to craft a new Tetris that uses only one shape of block? No they do not. Yet, the scrappy upstarts in charge of this historically-inspired racing game thought it would be perfectly fine to make a racing game that contained only a single track - and an oval one, at that. Then, they limited the vehicles you could race to those that heated up the asphalt between 1961 and 1971. That, dear friends, is chutzpah. Or, it's a cheaply-made budget game. Hey, look at that price!

Granted, if any one track can handle the load, it's the Indianapolis Raceway. And the developers have tried to make things interesting. Alongside the expected Classic Race mode (1-2 players, 10-200 laps), there's a clever Mission Mode that basically gives you specific tasks in small chunks. Unfortunately, the missions aren't too creative, and typically involve remaining undamaged for a certain time, passing X number of cars within a time limit, or just completing a time trial.  This is based in reality, so it's not like you'll be using missiles to burst water balloons or trying to see how many velociraptors you can drag behind you on a chain.

Even worse, many of the missions are quite a bit tougher than they should be because your fellow drivers all seem to be studying to become kamikaze pilots. They'll consistently slam right into you, swoop in front of your car, or even just drift lazily sideways into you, locking their wheels in with yours so neither of you can accelerate properly.

For time trials and races in which you need to avoid damage, this is especially brutal and infuriating because it frequently forces you to completely ignore the proper racing line and just try like hell to avoid everyone else on the track. We know the expression "rubbin' is racin'", but that's a NASCAR saying - these are open wheel cars. Even a single slight touch could catapult the driver to the moon, ass-first. Shouldn't these jalopy jockeys have at least a small sense of self-preservation?

All that wide open space, and this dill-rod decides he needs to cut in front of us RIGHT NOW! So much for that time trial...

The controls are the typical, "tilt to steer" affair most Wii racing games have, and whether it's because they're finely tuned or because the track is a giant oval we couldn't say, but they seem to work okay. There's damage modeling in some modes, toggle-able assists for those who can't steer or brake, and a nice little slipstream effect when you draft well enough to use another car as a windbreak.

There are also three minigames that take place in the pit area and have you waggling the Wii controller in different directions: changing tires, refueling, and putting out the occasional fuel fire after your awkward swirling of the Wii-mote (to remove the fuel cap) spills enough fuel to ignite.

That's really about all there is to it. You've got one track, a small assortment of vehicles, stupid opponents, an antique setting, and little variety. Unless you're a historian of racing, better leave this one in the garage.

More Info

Release date: Dec 18 2007 - DS, Wii (US)
Available Platforms: DS, Wii
Genre: Racing
Published by: Torus Games
Developed by: Destineer
ESRB Rating:
Everyone: Mild Violence

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