LEGO Racers Preview

LEGO Racers Preview

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LEGO bricks (that's officially what they're called - not LEGOs) are the building blocks of your car, your driver, and the worlds you race through in LEGO Racer, the new platform racing game from LEGO Media.

LEGO Media is a relative newcomer to the game scene, but has leapt in with both feet, making LEGO Racers and the resource-management game Rock Raiders - both of which require 3D accelerator cards.

Racers has you building your car from LEGO bricks. You'll have eight different LEGO sets to choose from while you're building your car, and you can build it more or less the way you like. Or, for those less inclined to spend the time creating individual racers, you can select from prebuilt ones. The car's physics change depending on the car you build - a heavier, more built-up car will move more slowly, while a light car might slip, slide, and flip. There are some limits to building your car (I believe we couldn't stack ours more than three bricks high), but for the most part, you have free reign.

You'll also choose your driver's LEGO head, hat, facial expression, body, and name, so that the character and the car feel completely like your constructions. And you'll find familiar LEGO people in the game, like Alpha Dragonis, Sam Grant, Rob 'n' Hood, and Captain Redbeard.

All 12 tracks are based on LEGO themes, four of which are the castle, pirates, space, and adventurers. The tracks have a very LEGO feel - little LEGO trees, LEGO houses, LEGO people. You'll race against up to five other cars at once. Power-ups vary from turbos to oil slicks to cannons, and if you pick up a gray diamond and then two of the same power-ups, the power-up takes on an entirely new function. (The cannon power-up becomes a grappling hook, for example.)

The object of the game is to defeat all the other racers and win pieces of their cars to build your perfect machine - and more LEGO bricks become available with each race you win. One disappointment about the game was that when you crash into a wall, LEGO bricks don't come flying off your car. The developers discussed doing that, but said that it introduced too many problems to make it a real possibility - after all, they'd have to mess with the physics, guess what kind of cars people would build, give people a way to repair them, and so on. The plan right now is for there to be a visual effect - LEGO bricks go flying, but your car remains intact, which just isn't as much fun as watching it fly apart.

As you might expect, the game will have hidden tracks, shortcuts, and all the other things you've come to expect from a racer. The game is really skewed to a much younger market, but LEGO Media hopes that it can reach older gamers with fond memories of playing with LEGO bricks as well.

Racers is due out this July.

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