Newman-Haas Racing (PC) Review
Presentation/Graphics : 82
Graphics are good with Direct 3D and 3Dfx support with resolutions up to 1024x768. In particular the scenery is especially well done. Plenty of grandstands, trees, billboards etc. adorn the tracks. The cars sport real sponsors on them and are also good looking. There isn't much detail to the cars but the textures are nice. Not much in the way of special effects, though there is smoke from the tires, but none of the other effects often thrown into games today. Using 3Dfx mode at 800x600, frame rates were fast and consistent on the tested system. At 1024x768 in D3D mode the frame rate became just a bit choppy, but not unplayable. As mentioned before the detail in the scenery was well done and there is plenty to look at as you're trying to find reverse to back your car out of the wall. Of particular note, was the Portland International Raceway, they did a fine job of including Mt. Hood in the background. Living near Portland, I recognized the mountain right away. Over all, graphics, while not quite excellent, were pleasingly good.
Presentation/Audio : 60
Before I rip this game apart for its lousy audio, I'll first say that it's possible the game didn't like my Sound Blaster Live!. Having said that, the audio in the game is so bad, that I had to turn them off. The engine sounds are the worst, completely unbearable. The audio is full of static, pops, scratches and is physically painful to listen to. The announcers' commentary and sound effects (tire squeals, crashes etc.) are ok. It is just the main menu sounds and the engine noise that is so horrible. I did play with the audio adjustments in the game but was unable to resolve the problem.
Interface/Options : 70
I've seen some slick interfaces in racing games lately, but this one is frustratingly poor. The main menu (graphics, sound, controls etc.) isn't so bad, but once you get into the game, there is no mouse support. This is not the first Psygnosis game to take this approach and I cannot understand why they don't include it. Using a combination of keyboard and joystick/wheel to navigate through the menus drove me insane. There certainly will be no bonus points awarded here. At least they don't make you type your driver's name in with the joystick.
Gameplay : 82
There is not much in the way of any realism or good car physics here, but it doesn't detract too much from the overall fun factor. It is an arcade racer in every sense of the word. It does have quite a few features usually found in sims though. There's the usual quick race, single race and a complete racing season on 11 real CART tracks. There's also a simplified garage, pit stops, yellow flags, tire wear and fuel consumption. Pit stops are made easy by putting your car in 'auto-pilot' when entering the pits, it drives itself to its pit stall and half a dozen mechanics jump out and service your car.
Driving the car isn't particularly challenging or exciting, but the wheel to wheel racing is. The car is almost impossible to spin, and you really have to try hard or do something really dumb to spin out. Conversely, it is easy to push through a corner straight into the wall or out onto the grass. Within the first 20 minutes, I was setting track records on every track I tried. You do have to be cautious and use some common sense in traffic though, as it is fairly easy to bump the driver in front of you and mess up your wing. Needless to say, trying to drive around the course with no front downforce isn't easy. The AI in the game is fairly aggressive and while they will hit you on occasion, they don't actively seek to take you out of the race.
One thing that bugged me about the gameplay was that there is no cockpit view. Your view is a chase cam. During a wreck, even just a brush of the wheels with another car, the camera pans out to a wider view, disorienting you for a moment. Another complaint I have is the announcers. They are constantly yacking back and forth to each other commenting on your driving and the race. The problem is that their comments are way out of sync. For instance, if you drive off the track for a moment, they will make a comment about it, half a lap later. Or you'll have the accelerator smashed to the floor going down a long straight and they'll say "He's breaking hard now." Not a big deal though and I assume that after one race most people will turn off the announcers anyway.
For the most part, if you're looking for quick Indy car action without the headaches of finely tuned setups and hours in the garage, Newman/Hass Racing can do that. Simple, but fun
As easy as the car is to drive and the garage being as simple as it is (downforce, for instance, is high, low, and medium, as are shocks and gearing) this game will probably suffer from a lack of challenge. On the second to the highest difficulty level I was able to set track records and work my way from the back of the field to the front during a race with very little practice before hand. Might be good for the kids but even the semi-serious racers should be able to blast through this one.
Overall : 74
By: Garth Cramer 12/8/98
Good graphics, plenty of detail. Poor interface, though the game is certainly playable despite it. Audio so obnoxious that your dogs will be howling and running for cover. Simple driving model, but fun.
If it weren't for the audio, I might recommend this title. As it stands, unless you don't mind playing a game in mute mode, I'd say pass on this one. Audio problems aside (perhaps a patch can fix that) the game probably isn't challenging enough to keep most gamers interested for very long. It can be fun for awhile but I would be hard pressed to pay forty or fifty of my American dollars for it, even if the audio was fixed.
Note on multiplayer: LAN play only is included but I was unable to test that.
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