Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.
I was never really into Lego as a kid, but I was sure as hell into Lego Racers 2. It was the first open world game I played, which sent me on a tour across rich, varied lands long before I’d do the same in the likes of Knights of the Old Republic or Mass Effect. Ok, so maybe those worlds weren’t quite as detailed: but once you beat the boss of the dinosaur one your car would start leaving fire trails behind it, and that counts for a lot.
As you might expect (and hope), the driving was more Mario Kart than Forza. The races were power-up chucking demolition derbies, and they had a lot going for them. Naturally everything in the game was made of lego, so blasting rockets and tornadoes at your rival racers would send bricks hurtling off their cars. I can still remember the satisfying whirl of clicking and clacking when I completed each lap, replenishing the bricks I’d lost on my way round.
That’s all well and good, though the real joy was to be had exploring each world in the free roam “Adventure” sections. There were five worlds in total, and while they might not sound exotic now they were wonderfully imaginative playgrounds for my childhood mind. Even then I remember thinking the initial genero-lego island was a tad dull, but after that there were dinosaurs and spaceships and yetis and aliens.
Unlike the modern trend towards maps packed with meaningless collectables, the game snuck a modest handful of golden bricks into each of its worlds. You needed those bricks to build whatever balloon, spaceship or portal that would transport you to the next zone, which made stumbling across every one of them an exciting discovery. I’ve roamed many an open world since, and I’m sure I’ll explore many more – but I’ll always remember pootling around Lego Racers 2.