Mon. Sep 26th, 2022

It’s no secret that I love cars. I left a career in science policy to finally come to Ars to write about them. But long before I fell in love with the car, there was Lego. I was sucked back into the plastic brick world on the eve of the millennium thanks to the first Lego Star Wars sets, but these days I’ve mostly been building minifig-scale little sports cars, especially when writer’s block hits. So imagine how excited I was to find out those Lego Speed ​​Champions cars were coming to the pretty excellent Forza Horizon 4

Expansion packs are not new to the Horizon series. Nor are cameos or guest appearances from other franchises-The Fast and the Furious has been released before, and the most recent game includes a short Halo crossing. But this is definitely the leftmost field of theirs, transporting you from Britain to the Lego Valley, a magical place where almost everything is built of bricks, and the humans are all minifigs now.

There are some Lego-specific tweaks – in addition to in-game currency and reputation points, you’ll also need to earn bricks to build your own Lego house. But overall, the gameplay remains the same: drive wherever you want, take part in races and challenges on the go, and listen to the radio while you do it. (Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, that catchy song so loved by Emmett in The Lego movie is absent from the soundtrack.) There is still dynamic weather, the day turns to night, and every week the in-game season changes.

Everything looks insanely surreal

Forza Horizon 4 was already the best open world racing game I’ve played, but I’m here to tell you it’s even better with Lego. The Playground Games designers have deliberately chosen to respect the scale of the bricks so that everything you see can be built in theory. And it looks beautiful. ABS plastic lends itself well to 3D animation; dozens of Lego video games (and more recently some movies) have proven that all too well.

But the rendering goes beyond blocky stones. The shell allows you to see the occasional nick or flashline of a mold, and bricks are scuffed here and there like yours could be if they’ve been around for a while. The designers even went so far as to put cameras in the cockpits of minifig-scale Speed ​​Champions cars to see what the cockpit view should look like. And just like the real thing, the driver’s hands don’t actually reach the steering wheel.

A real Lego Ferrari F40 might have wheels and tires, but minifig-scale Speed ​​Champions cars don’t have suspension or even axles to steer. That means they can’t really drive over bumps or steer on their own, which isn’t a problem if you have a Lego car whizzing on the ground with your hand. But it was a problem for the game’s physics engine, which has to model vehicles that have travel, pivot and steer. So the Playground team actually had to create some new (digital) bricks to make the Lego cars in the game work. These special virtual bricks are hidden in the in-game models, so you’ll never see them on screen, but I love that the developers went for this level of logical consistency.

Is everything great?

This is just an expansion pack ($19.99, or free if you get the Forza Horizon 4 Ultimate Editionthe game’s expansion bundle or the expansion bundle), so there’s less to explore and do than in a full Forza Horizon game. The selection of Lego cars you can unlock is also quite limited. In fact there are only three I know of: a 1967 Mini Cooper S Rally, a Ferrari F40 Competizione and a McLaren Senna. However, all existing Forza Horizon 4 cars will work in Brick Valley so you are unlikely to run out of gear.

And it’s still just a Forza Horizon game; you can’t walk around like a minifigure to explore, although there is a drone mode that allows you to take a closer look at your surroundings. You also don’t have to design or assemble your Lego house yourself, and there’s nothing to build in the game, so you won’t hear that click-click-click sound from previous Lego video games we’ve played and which we loved .

But trying to make a game everything for everyone led to the demise of jPod at Neotronic Arts. Forza Horizon 4 Lego Speed ​​Champions isn’t trying to be everything to everyone – it’s just taking an already great game and adding Lego. And that turns out to be more than enough.

List image by Microsoft

By akfire1

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