LEGO Racers 2
by LEGO Software
LEGO Racers was, without doubt, the closest you'll ever get to Mario Kart without playing on a Nintendo console. Although the game was primarily aimed at children the action was good enough to lure adults too. The difficulty was well balanced and increased gradually as you progressed through the different worlds. In fact as arcade racers go, LEGO Racers was definitely the best on the PC. Now we have LEGO Racers 2 for the Playstation 2. So what's it got that the original didn't have (and to be honest it would have to be almost perfect to beat the original) and how does it compare to the original? Let's take a look at the game and see if it improves on the original.
The most obvious difference is that each car in LEGO Racers 2 is built up of individual bricks. Should your vehicle get hit by one of your opponents weapons, or bump into barriers then you are sure to loose parts of your vehicle. If the unthinkable should happen and all the bricks be knocked from your vehicle then you'll be left to hotfoot it back to the pits. In the pits missing bricks are replaced and your car is rebuilt. This feature means that you have to drive more carefully than you would in the original game and also serves to create greater importance for the power-up weapons that you gain. Speaking of which there are now seven power-ups such as the Disc and the Whirlwind. What gives them an extra twist this time though is that they have an advanced use as well. An example of this is that the advanced use for the Disc power-up involves you looking behind you and then firing to hit the vehicle behind you.
One of the most striking differences between this and the original game is the story in the Adventure mode. Your ultimate aim is to defeat Rocket Racer on Xalax. Before the adventure begins you can create your own character and if you so wish build your own vehicle with genuine LEGO bricks. Your quest begins on Sandy Bay and you must defeat all the opponents there before you are given a Golden Brick. Golden Bricks are your tickets from one island to another. In order to leave Sandy Bay you have to own one Golden Brick. Golden Bricks are give to you when you win a race on the other islands. The other islands are Dino Island - which has a prehistoric theme, Mars - which has (rather obviously) a science fiction theme, Artic - which is covered in snow and comes with all the driving difficulties that snow brings and finally Xalax - the home of Rocket Racer.
In between the races there are some bonus games for you to try out. These range from the Sandy Bay Taxi service to the Xalax Drones. These mini games prove a welcome diversion from the competitive races and as a bonus they can win you improvements to your car. Speaking of bonuses every Island has a Boss that you have to face should you win all four of the races on that Island. On Dino Island there is Sam Sinister, on Mars there is Riegel, on the Artic Island there is Berg and finally on Xalax there is Rocket Racer. All of the Bosses prior to Xalax will give you a special car part when you defeat them. These car parts will be invaluable in constructing a car to beat Rocket Racer.
As well as Adventure mode there is an Arcade mode in which you can take part in one off races. The track must have been accessed in Adventure mode for you to access it in Arcade Mode. There is also the self explanatory Time Attack in which you race against your 'ghost' in order to record the fastest time for a particular track and again the track available to you are those that have been unlocked. In Bonus Games you get to take part in the bonus games that you have encountered in the Adventure mode. There is also a 2 player Arcade mode. Further mulitplayer options include a League mode (in which 2 players pick from 1 - 10 tracks to race on and the winner of the most races is the overall winner) and Battle in which the objective is to destroy your opponents car.
The game is completely subtitled. The speech used in the game is cutesy gibberish so even hearing gamers will need to rely on the subtitles to be informed. The game is still a top quality arcade racer and provides PS2 owners with an answer to Mario Kart. The disappointments with the game are only a few. There is only one camera angle whereas the original had about four. I would also question whether some smaller children would find it too difficult. When you step onto Dino Island and take part in your first race it can be overwhelming to see just how fast your AI opponents are. That said though the task is not impossible and with perseverance and practice you'll soon be winning races. In total there are over twenty tracks and all of them have been well designed. If arcade racers are your thing LEGO Racers 2 will definitely appeal to you.
Overall Game Rating: 8.4/10 Don't be fooled by the LEGO label into thinking that this is a game just for children. This sequel to the great LEGO Racers is once again a very good arcade racer. In fact smaller children may find it a bit difficult to progress in the Adventure mode as the AI opponents really put up a strong challenge. What will appeal to the children though is use of genuine LEGO themes and bricks.
Deaf Gamers comment: Everything is subtitled and full access is given to the deaf gamer. It is difficult to think of a better arcade racer on the PS2 at the moment.