Name: Indianapolis 500 Legends
Platforms: Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS (Reviewed on Wii)
It recently came to my attention that, for the most part, the Wii is a barren wasteland for racing games. With the exception of Excite Truck there has yet to be a successful or even fun game in the genre to hit the system. Driver: Parallel Lines and Crusin’ were both critical flops and the system's users are hungry for something to hold them over until Nintendo inevitably releases a Mario Kart game for the platform.
Indianapolis 500 Legends tries to fill the void with a realistic racing simulation that takes full advantage of the Wii remote as a controller. Controls work very well, using tilt sensing to move your racer across the track. It doesn’t feel much better then an analog stick does but it definitely does simplify the action. Gas is scripted to the 2 button and boosting (caused by drafting) rests comfortably on the B button.
There are several game modes to choose from with one or two players. Generic laps around different tracks are an obvious addition that can be adjusted from a nominal three laps to a ridiculous two-hundred. I can imagine if you are into racing these options would be seen as insanely cool, but for the average person I am more interested in car crashes then realistic simulations. Enter “Dodge Mode.”
"Dodge Mode" is the only really different addition to the game. Anyone who has seen an Indy Racing crash knows that when one car flips the domino effect that follows is a sight to behold. In dodge mode you are in that chaos, avoiding flipping and exploding cars and making it out of the wreck without losing your head. Smoke blocks your view, cars flip over you, and tires roll across the track. If the graphics were better it would be even better, but it definitely works.
Like many games on the Wii the graphics are inconsistent. While the cars have a nice shine to them the driver’s hands look like low-resolution lobster claws. Smoke effects caused by crashed or crashing vehicles is cool looking while the actual crashes leave much to be desired, especially in the wake of games like Burnout. Yes, Indy 500 Legends is on a system without next-gen capabilities, but even the Burnout titles on Gamecube had better looking crashes. They are cool to watch, because seeing cars going 150 MPH hitting eachother is impossible to do badly, but short of a tire popping off it isn’t much to look at.
There is a lengthy single player collection, putting players into the seat of real cars in races that actually occoured. Aside from the fact that it is one of the only realistic racing games for the Wii, Indianapolis 500 Legends doesn’t hold up as a good title. There isn’t much to do in it, and it seems the developers banked on the "cool" value of driving around a track in classic cars.
If you are a fan of the genre or the sport it is based on I can give it a recommendation, but that is a niche you may not be a part of. Once the novelty of the controls veer away what is left is a last-gen game with a few cool perks. Then again, that can describe 3/4 of the Wii's games right now.