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Kids these days eh? When I was a child, Lego races took place on the carpet and involved a lot of pushing around little Lego models and a healthy chunk of imagination. Nowadays of course, you can simulate said Lego racing on your computer, with a copy of Lego Racers 2. While the computer version can be fun, we can’t help but hope the traditional method still has its place. If you have a copy of this game and a modern PC, getting it going again is now easy and it’s a great way to keep the kids entertained on a rainy afternoon.
The most difficult thing about playing Lego Racers 2 on a modern PC is getting the game installed. Using the installer provided on the CD, most users will get a “Not enough memory” error, despite having more than ample computer memory to run this title. The problem is due to a programming error, modern PCs have so much more memory now than in 2001 that the installer just gets confused.
Various solutions around the web range from setting compatibility modes (didn’t work for us) to physically yanking memory chips out of your computer. None of the proposed solutions seemed acceptable, so we’ve re-written the installer for the game. Our replacement installer will work on any PC, regardless of how much memory you have installed. You can download it here (link dead? Let me know here).
Once you have downloaded the installer, simply pop your Lego Racers 2 CD-ROM in your optical drive and run the installer. Follow all the on screen prompts and the game should be installed within a couple of minutes. If you have any issues with the installer please leave a comment and let us know.
Once the game is installed, you can launch it from the Start menu or Start screen by searching for “Lego Racers 2” and clicking the icon that then appears.
Tweaking visual quality
Before you hit the race track, there are some visual quality options you may want to tweak, to stop the game from looking quite so blocky (except where it is supposed to, of course). From the main menu, choose “Game Options” and then “Graphics”. The following options will then appear (click on the picture to see a bigger version).
For best quality, crank up “Detail Level” and “Image Quality” to the maximum and turn down “Compression” to the very minimum setting. Screen resolution should also generally be turned up as high as possible, as long as your monitor supports the selected screen mode. Screen resolution maxed out on our rig at 1024×768, though the readme file included with the game seemed to suggest it should go higher. Lego Racers 2 is a 4:3 aspect ratio (non-widescreen) game and should run with borders on the sides when played on a widescreen monitor or TV.
Tweaking sound quality
From the main menu, choose “Game Options” and then “Sound”. Simply make sure this is set to High. There are no surround sound soundtracks or other quality settings to configure this time.
After you have configured game options, don’t forget to save. You can do this by selecting “Load / Save” from the games main menu. The game does NOT automatically save options or progress, so remember to save after you progress through the game too.
The games configuration files and save games are placed in your documents folder under “Games\Lego Racers 2\Saved Games”. The file “LR2.cfg” that the game creates contains all your preferences. Unfortunately, the file is not in a human readable format, so it’s not possible to edit the file by hand and reconfigure any hidden options this time.
Lego Racers 2 fully supports analogue controllers, with only a couple of caveats which we will get to in a moment. To configure your controller, select “Game Options” from the games main menu and then “Controls”. You will now need to choose player 1 or player 2, since the game can be played split-screen by two players.
The controls map fairly well to the Xbox 360 pad. Make sure to set the “A / D” option to “Analog”. We set up the controls like this:-
Accelerate – RT
Brake – LT
Reverse – Y (Yellow)
Fire Weapon – X (Blue)
Brick Boost – A (Green)
Talk – B (Red)
Look Behind – Back
Next Target – RB
Previous Target – LB
When you configure the controls in game like that, it should look like the picture shown below.
There are three problems we encountered when using the 360 controller. First of all, the dead zone (the amount the stick needs to be moved before registering any movement) seemed to be a little too small. While playing, our little Lego mini-figure seemed to always lean either left or right. Secondly, the D-pad isn’t recognised at all by the game. Thirdly, and by far the worst problem is that clicking the left analogue stick will pause the game. It is very easy to accidentally click the stick as you race and children in particular may find it too frustrating to play like this.
If you cannot get used to not clicking your stick, you can switch to keyboard controls instead, though this limits you to digital controls only. You can still use a gamepad when the game is in keyboard input mode by using Xpadder or a similar tool.
Remember, when you are done configuring controls, don’t forget to save your game from the “Save / Load” option on the main menu.
Other bits and pieces of note
Press F10 at any time during play to take a screenshot of your game, this is saved to the Games\Lego Racers 2 folder in your documents folder.
Maybe we’re just rusty, but we actually found this game somewhat difficult compared to other child-friendly racing games. Expect a few temper tantrums from younger gamers at least during the first few races.