Drome Racers is a Lego racing video game developed by Attention to Detail and published by Electronic Arts and Lego Interactive. It was first released in November 2002, for PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, Game Boy Advance and Microsoft Windows.
It is the third Lego racing game, released a year after Lego Racers 2, which was also developed by Attention to Detail.
Gameplay and plot
Set in the year 2015, Drome Racers is a combination of racing gameplay with the Lego license, offering vehicles based upon the 2002 Lego construction toys. Career mode puts the player in the role of Max Axel, who is tasked with winning the coveted Drome Championship. To do so, he must work his way through the ranks by completing a number of Multi-Challenge Races; a series of races in which the completion time in one round is carried over to the next. For example, if Max finished three seconds behind in the last race, the leader is awarded a three-second head start in the next. The overall winner is the first to cross the finish line in the final race of the series. Preceding each Multi-Challenge series is a qualifying drag race, where victory is determined by a good start and proper gear-shifting.
Max Axel is aided by other such Team Nitro members as Shicane who handles car upgrades, and Rocket, who gives advice. The winnings can be put toward building a new car or upgrading the existing one. The former allows players to select the wheels, chassis, and body type of the new vehicle, each of which is suited to specific conditions and environments. The latter offers five level upgrades in categories, such as engine, aerodynamics, turbo, armor, and tires. Weapons also play a vital role. The arcade mode presents players with Normal or Time Attack racing through a variety of courses, weather conditions, and routes. The Quick Race option allows for instant action by randomly selecting any pertinent variables, including cars and tracks, for either one or two players.
The GameCube and Xbox versions feature several enhancements, including an extra power-up that was not in the other versions and a 2-Player Battle Mode, where the goal is to destroy the other player's car with power-ups (Though there are variants such as keeping a flag the longest without getting hit). The Battle Mode uses a unique car that cannot be used in normal races (a slightly modified version Lego set 4585 Nitro Pulverizer) and takes place in several special arenas loosely based on the game's tracks (Such as the City Arena which is based on the Foundry track).
Drome Racers received average reviews. The main point of criticism was that the gameplay was mediocre; GameSpot said, "What little originality it has, like the qualifying drag races, is seriously underplayed, and most of the experience comes off as generic." and rated the PC version 5.2/10. Although GameZone said it was a "Great concept for a racing game", it was one of the few reviews that was positive. Metacritic rated the PC version 65% with 6 reviews, the PS2 version 57% with 10 reviews and the GameCube version 54% with 5 reviews.
The GBA version did receive surprisingly more positive reviews though, with an average score from Metacritc of 73% based on 9 reviews. GameSpot rated it 8.1/10, and said, "Drome Racers is the most technically impressive racing game to hit the GBA in a long, long time". IGN rated it 7.0/10, saying, "It's a fun racer, but the controls are just a bit on the loose side". Gaming Age said it was "a very solid title with small flaws that keep it from taking the crown from the current king of portable racing", giving it a rating of B+ "Great".
Drome Racers would end up being the last game developed by Attention to Detail, as the developer went into liquidation on August 28, 2003, prior to the release of Drome Racers' ports to GameCube and Xbox. Reports suggested that the company was working on a fourth installment in the series, tentatively titled Lego Racers 4, and another title, Lego Racers CC, was advertised in Lego catalogs in 2004, though no further information on either has become known since.
In January 2007, Kiloo announced that they were developing two new Lego-themed video games for mobile phones, on of which was titled Lego Racers and featured an original take on the 1999 game's machanics, projecting a 2007 release. The game was released by Hands-On Mobile in June 2008 to mixed reception, with critics stating that the game lacked any depth and made null and void of the actual usage of Lego bricks in the game. On December 18, 2007, NetDevil, at the time in charge of developing Lego Universe, announced that it had opened a new web-focused division, which was tasked with developing an Adobe Flash-based remake of Lego Racers, with a projected release date of Q1 2018. NetDevil stated that the move was done in order to compete with other browser games, such as Club Penguin and RuneScape, and build upon an older web-based Lego Racers game, entitled Drome Racers Challenge. No further news on the remake game had surfaced after that.
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