So when LEGO 2K Drive was announced, I knew I was all in, even though I’ve never been a huge fan of developer Visual Concepts’ usual output, which primarily consists of the NBA 2K and WWE 2K franchises. Still, I had high hopes for a worthy successor to the classic LEGO Racers games, and thankfully, this has delivered in unexpected ways.
You play LEGO 2K Drive as a voiceless driver of your choice, accompanied by the legendary Clutch Racington and his robotic assistant, S.T.U.D., on your way to winning the coveted Sky Cup Grand Prix Trophy. The core of the game’s single-player offering is a hefty adventure through four distinct, open zones in pursuit of entry into this ultimate race, where you’ll find yourself completing quests, earning experience, and competing against a series of entertainingly unique rivals across 24 main races, each with their own quirks to contend with on the track. It’s a daring mash-up of open-world racers and LEGO platformers, with your avatar being the brick-built vehicle surrounding it rather than the Minifigure behind the wheel.
PlayStation shared a Tweet introducing Lego 2K Drive and it’s release date too. You can see the Tweet below.
The simple act of driving in LEGO 2K Drive is an absolute joy at all times, whether it’s burning miniature rubber on the two dozen well-designed tracks or roaming free across the four maps that they exist within. No other open-world driving game offers the level of freedom found here, thanks to the combination of transforming vehicles and highly destructible environments. The roads here are merely suggestions, with every point of interest a completely straight shot away if you’re inventive enough. When you’re not screaming across the map, you can move with the precision of a platformer thanks to the dedicated jump and quick turn buttons, making navigation feel super approachable even for those who aren’t familiar with driving games.
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The real accomplishment is that, despite having the traversal chops of an open-world action game when the situation demands it, the actual act of racing feels as tight and skilled as the best arcade racers on the market. Vehicles handle superbly in any form, with the nuances coming from a combination of how they’re built, the stats they have, and any additional perks. Even without the ability to build new rides from scratch using hundreds of different LEGO pieces, there’s a plethora of variety to unlock, and custom loadouts allow you to preset different trios of the street, off-road, and water vehicles for different situations.
In LEGO 2K Drive, you’ll race across these three different surface types, with the game automatically switching between your three preset vehicles for each situation. It took a while to get used to seeing my ride rebuild itself into another form every time the ground beneath me changed, but it’s genuinely impressive to see and adds to the racing and action’s dynamic feel. It’s an understatement to say that Visual Concepts has nailed how this game feels to play in almost every situation. Even if you’re driving around in a giant hamburger or some ridiculous creation of your own design that you spent hours building brick-by-brick to look completely ridiculous, it always works and feels fantastic.
You can also focus on the brick-building aspect and carefully craft an arsenal of different builds for every need if you want to. Whether it’s tuning your vehicles to be more offensive or defensive in races, or specifically suited to certain types of open-world challenges, LEGO 2K Drive offers a plethora of different gameplay scenarios that you can tackle with as much or as little engineering as you want. It’s a perfect match for the fun of LEGO, especially when combined with the fact that your vehicles are damaged and fall to their individual pieces – and driving through all of the destructible LEGO bits throughout the world adds pieces back on.
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Transitions From Driving game To Open World Adventure
It quickly transitions from a pure driving game to something more akin to an open-world adventure/RPG, throwing new and more difficult obstacles your way through a series of quests that can be overcome with pure skill or navigated with careful vehicle building. The world itself can change in ways that affect races, such as being rewarded with a lawn mower in an optional side quest that can clear out patches of weeds across each map so they don’t interfere with races. There are a few “minigame” type main quests that aren’t nearly as fun as the regular races and thus feel a little overused by the third time you’ve been forced to do each, but it’s a minor blemish on an otherwise excellent 8-10-hour main run of missions.
Completing only the primary content leaves about 80% of the game unfinished, with LEGO 2K Drive jam-packed with challenges, optional missions, and a plethora of collectibles all offering up experience and cash to help you get even more out of the customizability of your LEGO rides. The primary way to obtain new drivers, LEGO pieces, and vehicle perks is to progress through the game, but there’s also the ever-present “Unkie’s Emporium” premium store at every garage stop. It’s perhaps unsurprising for a 2K title, but 2K Drive has an enormous catalog of drivers, vehicles, LEGO pieces, and decorations that can only be purchased using an in-game currency that’s given away for free but can be purchased in bulk with real money.
So far, so typical of any modern game, and it’s ultimately not all that intrusive on the overall enjoyment of the game. However, this is a full-priced title that is already supported by a paid season pass model, and a large portion of the coolest content is locked behind in-game purchases. I’d earned enough currency by the time I’d completed every main and side quest in the game to buy maybe three or four of the roughly 200 items on offer. Some younger players with enough time and patience may be able to grind out the dollars required to get a good portion of it, but the rest are very likely to succumb to Unkie Monkey’s aggressive salesmanship, which feels grubby.
The Game Is Made To Have Fun And Joy
Leaving aside the 2K-ness of it all, this is still a game built for pure joy, and it never disappoints. It’s also superbly put together, with a well-realized aesthetic combining the plastic and organic worlds to great effect, as well as flawless and fluid performance – at least in the PS5 version I played. It’s easily the best-looking LEGO game I’ve seen and by far one of the best-looking arcade racers on the market, with massive and detailed environments and massive amounts of LEGO-based destruction. The real-time cutscenes, which use the same stop-motion style character animations as the excellent LEGO Movie, are particularly impressive, making me wish that TT Games had done something similar for its recent entries.
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Surprisingly, the audio in LEGO 2K Drive is a shambles. I don’t know enough to say whether it’s a low bitrate issue (the game’s paltry 8GB download on PS5), but all of the voice work in the game sounds tinny and awful. It’s not just the sound quality, but also the mix, which has a lot of volume issues, which ruins the otherwise great sound effects and mostly good music. However, the trademark LEGO humor shines through, with gloriously bad puns, visual gags, and slapstick comedy in abundance that kept a stupid grin on my face the entire time.
So there’s a lot to love about LEGO 2K Drive, and I haven’t even mentioned the multiplayer potential, which includes the entire campaign playable in online co-op and all 24 superb races playable locally or online in single race and cup configurations. It’s a full-fledged adventure game and a top-tier multiplayer kart racer that easily gives Mario Kart a run for its money in terms of content offering and variety, while also being shockingly competitive in terms of racing quality. This could have been a half-bricked grab at the LEGO crowd and still landed somewhat, but instead, it thoroughly impressed me in almost every way.
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