Choosing a sim is almost as hard as driving one!
Formula One/CART racing exploded this year with over six — count em! — new titles
vying for your PC gaming dollar. In August we saw the disappointing port of arcade-style
racers Formula 1 (Psygnosis) and Power F1 (Eidos). November brought
us two flashy but questionable arcade/sim hybrids Andretti Racing (EA)
and Indycar Racing (ABC Sports); she also brought us two quite different, but
similarly named fully realistic sims: CART Precision
Racing (Microsoft) and CART Racing (Sierra/Papyrus). And now with Christmas
just around the corner, I bet you’re wondering which one to put under the tree.
That’s why you here, aren’t you?
Well, in all likelihood, I imagine you’ll
want to steer clear of Papyrus/Sierra’s CART Racing. Why? Because if you’re
an arcade racer you’ll despise the difficulty of CART Racing and if you’re a fan
of the sim genre, you probably already own it! Though it’s hard to tell from the
confusing marketing campaign, the “new” CART Racing is not a new
program by any stretch of the imagination. CART Racing is a Windows 95
Rendition enhanced re-release of the original DOS IndyCar
Racing II. In case you’ve forgotten, IndyCar
Racing II is the game Grand Prix II arguably displaced
as the reigning sim champ more than a year ago!
So what does this “enhanced” re-release stuff mean? It means that you can now run the game from Windows 95 with a graceful menu structure. It also means that if you own a 3D accelerator with a Rendition chip, you will find some nice new graphics and solid frame rates. But if you own a Rendition, chances are your graphics card already came bundled with the Rendition version of IndyCar Racing II. The Screamin 3D, Intense 3D, Total 3D, and Magic Video all included it–in other words, the only Rendition owners who don’t already have this game will be those who bought the 3D Blaster PC).
So if arcade racers won’t want it, if most die-hard sim fans already bought it,
and most every Rendition owner has a copy also, who is the target audience for
this game? A small bunch indeed: new sim fans who don’t have hardware capable
of playing the latest 3D intensive sims like the soon-to-be-released Ubisoft’s
F1 Racing Simulation or Microsoft’s (soon-to-be-patched) CART
Precision Racing. Though non-Rendition
owners will find the unaccelerated CART Racing graphics dated, though the
sound is horrible, though multiplayer support is limited to two players, and though
the bells and whistles of newer sims are missing (Pi Telemetry data and interactive
driving schools, for example), the case can plausibly be made that CART Racing
still offers the most realistic driving physics to date. This isn’t the only thing
it has going for it: CART Racing has strong tuning/car setup options and
other cool features that none of the new sims have (the ability to edit replays
and save the highlights; an immediate race-restart function for first-turn pileups;
inner, middle and outer tire temperatures; and the most graceful method of handling
pit-stop instructions). Add to this the fact that CART Racing has a loyal
web following (read: great user patches) and comes with a manual/strategy guide
that will make you a better sim racer on any game and you’ve got a perfectly
good reason to not feel stupid for shelling out top dollar on a re-release of
the year-and-a-half old IndyCar
If you buy it, remember to use the old title while you search the web for all those cool patches! (None of the old fans care about this new name business.) You can find a lot of great user mods at www.simproject.com. Keep driving.