Newman Haas Racing
You're wrong about Indycar, you know. Thanks to the famous Indy 500 race where cars reach speeds of 230 miles per hour but do little else, the sport has a reputation for being unbearably dull. Why would anyone want to spend hours on end speeding around an oval, gradually overtaking other cars, let alone pay £45 to simulate it on their PlayStation? But of the 14 tracks to be found in Newman Haas Racing, only two could be described as ovals, and the rest are no more basic than most F1 tracks.
As you may well be able to tell from the screenshots, Newman Haas is not constructed entirely from new parts, and bears a striking resemblance to both Psygnosis’ Formula One games. That’s because Studio 33 – developer of Newman Haas – is also working with Psygnosis and was given access to the Formula One software engine to start its project off.
There have been numerous changes made to this engine to make Newman Haas a game of its own though, but on the face of it the result is something that looks very like Formula One, but plays quite differently. Like F1, car detail is high, so you can instantly recognise the teams once you learn who’s who in a championship. But control of your vehicle is completely different. No matter which of the 16 cars you choose to drive, Newman Haas is fiercely responsive. Just tap the pad to the left and the car will immediately lurch off to the side as if an irate member of the audience has lobbed a brick through your visor!
Even with the Dual Analogue Pad, after calibration and re-calibration, it’s just too responsive. Using graduated steering you should be able to hold the exact angle of a shallow curve, but it is impossible to do without heading for the grass.
Newman Haas lets itself down on a number of points like this. Again and again you will find good ideas spoiled by niggling problems. For example, there are five views – but no nosecone camera. Car parts break off and spark – but the camera abruptly zooms out with the tiniest amount of contact. There is even a cockpit view – but it’s the ugliest you’ve seen.
There are wing mirrors – but they don’t reflect the track, scenery or sky. And although it’s Dual Analogue compatible, you can’t configure the buttons, so you’re forced to let go of the right thumbstick (accelerate/brake) to toggle the turbo on or off with the Triangle button, when assigning this to R3 (from depressing the right thumbstick) would make competitive driving much easier.
Newman Haas does have some good features which are left unspoiled, like a pit crew that you can watch remove and replace your tyres, and a menu which allows you to radio ahead your demands to them, from fuel load to tyre pressure. Accept that you’re not going to have perfect steering control over the car and you will even start to have some fun. After all, the tracks are fast, you can tune everything on the cars, and the split screen mode is OK. But sooner or later, you’re going to want to try a championship and when you lose because of the dodgy controls again, you’ll break something.