Q: How do you know when the games industry has woken up again after Christmas?
A: When you start hearing about new racing games which are "nerve-shatteringly intense" replications of US centric, oval based racing leagues.
Codemasters this week announced Indy Racing League, a "blisteringly fast" racer with the official seal of the oval owners. It's due out on PS2, Xbox and PC in the spring, and we already have a selection of screenshots for PC and Xbox fans.
By any measure, IRL actually sounds a lot more interesting than we thought. There will be 33 cars on track, racing at speeds in excess of 200mph for a full Indy Racing season (including the infamous Indy 500). Ok, so the promise of locations all over the US is a bit redundant when all you get is an oval to slog your way around, but if Codies can find a way to bring out the strategy and 'high drama' of actual Indy racing without simply producing the virtual equivalent of a luggage claim rotator then it could be a lot of fun.
These cars do 0-100mph in less than three seconds, so you can be assured that there's plenty of challenge to keeping them on track, particularly as you continuously overtake, defend your position, work within inches of your competitors and hog the racing line. And with factors like fuel load and track temperature to worry about, racers are definitely going to need their wits about them.
Traditionally, Europe hasn't gone mad for this rather peculiar motorsport (a bit like our dispassionate response to American football), but with a strong simulation side, Indy Racing League may stand to reverse that. May do.