Release Date: June 2000
Developer: Paradigm Entertainment
Players: 1-2 (simultaneous)
Special Features: Game Pak Save, Rumble Pak, Expansion Pak
Win the greatest spectacle in racing in this third- or first-person open-wheel racer. Players can immediately select from four modes: Single Race, Championship, Two-Player, or Gold Cup. Single Race offers a choice of nine tracks from the 1999 Indy Racing League (IRL) season, while two-player mode delivers the same experience with split-screen play. Championship delivers the entire season of racing, complete with 20 playable, real-world drivers. Most players will spend the bulk of their time in Gold Cup mode, which offers plenty of depth through the mix of a career mode, eight fictional tracks, and an arcade-style progression system. This system lets players earn points by competing in races to unlock better cars and new series. The first playable vehicles are midget cars, but soon players will gain access to sprint cars, Formula 2000, and, ultimately, Indycars. The game offers easy, normal, and hard difficulty settings across modes that shift competitors’ speed and overall aggressiveness.
Difficulty can be fine-tuned by toggling damage on or off. When it’s on, cars actually take damage and their performance is reduced as a result. Players then have to make a pit stop to repair the vehicle in order to get back to full speed. The game’s presentation is simulation-like with in-race commentary and feedback from the pit crew. In contrast to these realistic features, cars handle in an exaggerated, unrealistic manner, lending a strong arcade feel to the experience. Drafting is over-exaggerated and opponents frequently wreck, causing the need for lightning-quick reflexes. Once you get used to this hybrid of styles, the game presents an entertaining and enjoyable experience.
Indy Racing 2000 came out during a strange time in open-wheel racing’s history. In 1996, Indianapolis Motor Speedway heir Tony George led a group of drivers away from Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) to form the Indy Racing League. Most of the big talent stayed in CART, while IRL struggled to build notoriety. In the game, players will quickly become familiar with the backside of car #2 driven by Greg Ray, one of the few standouts during the early years of IRL. It’s because of the politics and legal battles during this time that drivers such as Ray, Buddy Lazier, and Billy Boat got some time in the limelight. If they had stayed with CART, they may not have been seen as drivers worthy of starring in a video game. Now, they’re immortalized in polygonal form on the Nintendo 64.