Being an early PlayStation Network release, and the first in the PixelJunk franchise, a large proportion of the PlayStation 3's user-base are unlikely to have experienced Racers. The Scalextric style twitch racer was quickly over-shadowed in popularity by the exceptional Monsters. 2nd Lap, a free update for existing owners of Racers, is Q-Games' attempt at drawing an audience back to the slot racer.
For those unfamiliar with the original game, PixelJunk Racers is barely a racing game. Playing out from a top-down perspective, Racers has you using careful manipulation of the R2 trigger to accelerate a vehicle around a defined route. Think Scalextric and you'll get the idea. As the difficulty ramps up, cars are introduced onto the track that you'll need to avoid. You do this by switching lanes.
That's the simple run-down, but PixelJunk Racers is packed with variety. While each stage is based on the common concept described above, each level has a unique twist. For example, the first level, "Zone", requires you to carefully maintain your speed within a glowing target. This requires careful and steady manipulation of the trigger to stay within the confines of the zone. Alternatively, "Fireball Frenzy" has you carefully passing cars to initiate a high-speed ability. When in high-speed you can drive into cars to get a speed boost. Given this rule-set, you're tasked with setting the best time across five-laps.
There are roughly 16 variations on the core concept spread across a number of different tracks. The original core campaign had you earning medals for your endeavours and that remains in-tact with the expansion of 2nd Lap.
The big new addition however is "Ghost Attack Mode". This takes the same conditions from the single-player campaign and pits you against the scores of a global leaderboard. You'll be able to face off against any other "ghosts" (an exact replay of another player's best score) on the leaderboard, adding a really competitive nature to the experience. The most fun is in the "Friends" scoreboard, as you'll want to try and better their score on every level. It makes the game hugely replayable as you're constantly vying for superiority. Once you've over-taken your friends scores, you can then compete against your closest rivals on the worldwide scoreboard. Naturally the aim is to try and reach the top, but along the way you'll also be accumulating a global points tally which will place you on a worldwide leaderboard with all your points totted up.
Aside from some slight delays downloading leaderboard information, the mode works flawlessly and really is addictive. You'll find yourself screaming, "how did he manage to do that so fast?" as a ghost thunders into the lead and you hit the restart button over and over again. It adds a depth to the already addictive concept of the original game.
While Ghost Attack is the big new addition, 2nd Lap also adds in a set of trophies to aim for. With the original game launching before trophies, 2nd Lap adds challenges for the campaign and the new ghost attack. It's also worth noting that the core gameplay has been rebalanced to make it a little more accessible (the original game was hard).
If you already own Racers then the update will be available for free, but if you're yet to bite you'll be able to get the original game and it's expansion for $6.99. It's a no-brainer for those who picked up the original title, but with the balance changes and the new online components it's definitely worth checking out during the summer drought.