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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: October 8, 2001
After LEGO showed it could succeed in the competitive personal computer game market through the release of LEGO Island, the company was off and running. When LEGO Racers was introduced in 1999, it was the company’s first really sophisticated personal computer game requiring 3D video hardware acceleration. Now, despite the dearth of arcade racers on the personal computer market, LEGO Software has gone to the next level and has introduced LEGO Racers 2, a combat racing title, this time developed by Attention to Detail rather than High Voltage.
Significant improvements are present in LEGO Racers 2 when compared to its predecessor. The designers have utilized a totally new 3D engine allowing you to scoot around wherever you want, not just on roads. There are also four new LEGO worlds based on popular LEGO play themes. New sub-games and car upgrades are present, including tires, engines, and shields. An improved destructibility function causes cars to break into individual LEGO bricks on impact; the brick-by-brick demolition of your vehicle leaves you having to run on foot to make a pit stop when you lose your last brick and your vehicle is completely destroyed. Distinctive weather conditions now affect racing environments, including rain, snow, lightning and thunder. An improved power-up system helps racers, including the all-new Golden Brick system: as players race along the courses, they pick up golden bricks needed to advance to the next LEGO world. Finally, the story is more important than in the previous offering, and you encounter 70 computer-controlled characters in this new version.
The story picks up at the end of the preceding release: After being beaten initially in LEGO Racers, the feisty Rocket Racer was left totally dejected. Then he comes across an advertisement for the planet Xalax, home of a group of aliens called the Ramas who love to race around the planet and the Dome (a huge arena). Upon finding an intergalactic portal, he impressed the Ramas sufficiently with his driving talents to earn their respect and friendship. Then Rocket Racer issued a new challenge to the LEGO worlds, inviting any competitor to come to Xalax and race against him and his alien friends to become Galactic Racing Champion. When you hear of the challenge, you decide to do the best you can to make it to the Championship. But there are four other local inhabitants who would like to go to Xalax as well, so you need to beat them first. You must travel to other LEGO worlds also to improve your skills and to win new parts for your car that together will help you beat Rocket Racer.
You prove your driving skills in exploring four different worlds, based on new and popular LEGO play themes, to qualify for the ultimate race on planet Xalax. These worlds are Sandy Bay, Life on Mars, Adventurers: Dino Island, and Arctic; in contrast, the first LEGO Racer had Space, Pirates, Adventurers, and Castle. 24 new tracks (as opposed to 12 in the original) combine to form a network of roads in the racing worlds, and some contain movable barriers. Each world has four tracks, and you can race them in any order you like. Each environment is actually tied together through a central hub — a room with a whole bunch of portals.
An improved power-up system helps racers along the way. The power-ups include such offensive actions as unleashing thunderstorms, homing missiles, rockets, and whirlwinds on targets. As players win races within the worlds, they gain access to exciting new bonus levels. Seven unique weapons are available in LEGO Racers 2, each with hidden advanced features, and many possessing special effects (such as tornado and brick quake which rattle all the other cars into losing their bricks). During races, you find plenty of power-ups floating above the tracks, and you simply cruise through them to pick them up. Each power-up has a different impact on target vehicles, and some work more quickly than others. Overall, the power-up implementation is quite satisfying in this offering.
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