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CART World Series

Sony hits the streets with CART. Is its latest its greatest?

Publisher: Sony
Developer: Sony
Genre: Racing

The CART Association is a fast-growing alternative to traditional Indy Car racing, offering a similar style of racing cars, but subject to different rules and regulations. And now, like most racing series these days, it has been turned into a PlayStation game.

With the PSX racing genre absolutely bulging at the seams with titles, obvious comparisons have to be drawn with similar titles, and CART World Series' closest competitor is Formula 1 Championship Edition. Immediate comparisons aren't good. Any title would have a difficult time being compared to the modern-day wonder that is F1, and when put side by side, CART's shortfalls are quickly shown up.

For a start, the controls seem over-fiddly. The steering is tight to say the least, and it seems to stick to the road like glue. While this makes driving easy at first, it also makes it less exciting. Yes, we know that it's not realistic for racing cars to be power sliding around corners, but that is what makes racing fun. In CART it's almost impossible to unstick the car from the track, and the end result is that when you're zooming up to a corner too fast, rather than spectacularly sliding off, the car doesn't seem to turn fast enough, and just plows ahead in a straight line and crashes into the wall. Frustrating to say the least...

Crashing is fun... for the first couple of times. When you smack into something, bits and pieces fly off the car, and wheels, aerolons and other bits and pieces bounce all over the place. This looks cool at first, but gets old really quickly. And it looks dumb when the pieces suddenly pop themselves back on and you can start racing again. It would have been better to have the car gradually take damage and become increasingly less controllable.

But it's not all downers. Graphically, CART is as smart as the best racers out there, with nicely detailed cars and track graphics. The music is suitably raucous, with pumpin' techno tracks blasting away, backed with reasonable in-game sound effects, and the general presentation is good.

The strongest feature of the game is the AI. Rather than driving around like morons, the drivers are actually intelligent and drive aggressively. So much so that they sometimes collide - this is especially good when they do it in front of you and you're forced to drive through spinning cars that are shedding debris all over the track. That is definitely the best part of the game, because it does really feel like you're racing in a competitive environment.

When it comes down to it, CART is a fun game that on its own merits offers some cool features and exciting racing. But, and it's a big "but" (almost as big as Ricki Lake's), compared to other racing titles, CART doesn't stack up. If you're a diehard CART fan, then you'll buy it regardless of what I say. But if it's the highest quality racing game you're after, then F1 CE is the one for you.