In 1994, the Indy Racing League launched as an effort to take racing out of the hands of tweak-happy mechanics and put it back into the hands of skilled drivers. Before then, car modification was getting out of hand, skilled drivers were fleeing to foreign leagues, and only those teams with the deepest of resources were capable of winning. The Indy Racing League sought to fix these complaints by imposing strict limits on car modification and allowing a smaller range of engine types. Though the league hasn't become the blockbuster success it intended, it still offers a great deal of excitement to racing fans and remains the only circuit that can boast the Indianapolis 500. With that in mind, GT Interactive is preparing to unleash Indy Racing League 2000 on N64 systems across the country.
Adding to a library already knee-deep in racers, IRL 2000 will offer beautiful 3D graphics, multiplayer support, multiple camera angles, and all the insane graphical enhancements people have come to expect from N64 racing games. Realizing that real-world tracks are a major key to credibility in racing sims, developer Paradigm is including all eight tracks from this year's circuit, including Texas, Indianapolis, Atlanta, and the Walt Disney World Speedways. In addition, eight more original tracks are also being added to the game, providing a bit of variety for those who run their racing games into the ground. The inclusion of 20 actual drivers, ranging from Kenny Brack to fan-favorite Al Unser Jr., along with their cars, rounds out the obligatory goodies IRL 2000 intends to deliver.
What may help set IRL 2000 apart from the pack, besides being stacked to the gills with features, is the inclusion of a new draft meter. Racing-game fans may be familiar with using tight breaking and car physics to increase speed through turns and corners, but Indy Racing 2000 might just be the first game where a visual indicator is present to aid in this endeavor. Considering that the Indy Racing League is known for oval tracks and a focus on speed, this meter should be a welcome enhancement. If anything, it will be fun to see what the computer suggests for taking a 200mph vehicle around a sharp corner.
Though GT Interactive may seem crazy to release a racing sim on the one system with a glut of racers, IRL 2000 is shaping up to be a contender for two reasons. First, Paradigm is no slouch when it comes to creating enjoyable N64 games, as Pilotwings and Beetle Adventure Racing serve to illustrate. Secondly, there's not one bit of fog present in early versions of the game, and any N64 game that lacks fog has a major leg up on the competition. Racing fans should look for Indy Racing League 2000 to reach store shelves this June.