Codemasters was putting on a great show this year with several sequels and even a few new franchises up their sleeve. The big hit of the booth was their new American Idol game that was being shown in style complete with guest appearances by Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, but their new MMORPG, Dragon Empires was also showing great promise, even at a very early stage of development.
American Idol (PS2/PC)
The track list includes 40 international hits to master, so prepare to get full feedback from the judges whatever your performance is. If your contestant sings the song perfectly you’ll receive a few words of praise from Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson to win a place in the next round. However, if your contestant squeals and howls out of tune then prepare for heartache as Simon delivers one of his famous put-downs before you get booted off the show.
There are a few nice innovations that set this rhythm game apart from all the others out there. The button cues stream in from all four sides of the screen in relation to their position on the PS2 controller or PC keyboard. There are also slide notes where you have to press and hold a certain button to stay in tune or hit those high notes. It's very intuitive and very fun. I took my shot at the semi-finals and 72% of America loved me - on the easy skill level.
Up to four players can reach for the stars this Winter as they try to become the next American Idol.
IndyCar Series (PS2/PC/Xbox)
The Indy Racing League is a 15 Race Single Seat Championship that competes on oval racing circuits throughout the USA. Circuits include Las Vegas, Texas Motor Speedway, California Speedway and, of course Indianapolis, which is the biggest race on Earth and the highlight of the racing calendar.
The main game offers immediate high paced action and player friendly handling, making the feel both authentic and realistic. It is easy to pick up and play but offers depth and challenge through multiple difficulty settings, to keep the action-packed, two 200mph manuevers coming thick and fast.
This is the first fully licensed IRL game featuring 14 tracks, 29 teams, 33 cars on the track at one time, and one of the best virtual reconstructions of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway I have seen in a racing game to date. There are plenty of game modes, racing tutorials, TV-style replay coverage, and variable levels of difficulty to make this the perfect racing game for all ages and levels of skill.