LEGO 2K Drive review: top-notch racer that’s more than meets the eye
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Featured Image Credit: 2K Games
LEGO 2K Drive might just be the greatest family-friendly racer out there. Visual Concepts and LEGO have teamed-up to make a delightful open-world adventure, packed full with races, quests, challenges, collectables galore, a build-your-own vehicle garage, and well designed explorable biomes, all topped with LEGO’s signature brand of humour.
Whether you prefer to race alone, against strangers, or against friends, LEGO 2K Drive has got you covered. There are online multiplayer options to suit all your competitive needs, but the game shines when you opt to play its hefty single-player story campaign. It’s a relatively simple story. You’re an up and coming rookie driver, hoping to rise through the ranks - which you inevitably do. Along the way, however, you’ll have to beat some entertaining opponents, and win over the hearts of Bricklandia’s residents in order to reach the top.
Take a look at LEGO 2K Drive in action below.
If I had to sum up LEGO 2K Drive in one word, I’d use ‘variety’. As you travel around Bricklandia’s various lands via water, road, and track, you’ll automatically morph between vehicles - and let me tell you, there is no greater satisfaction than when you speed off a cliff only to immediately transform into a speedboat, landing with a splash and continuing your speedfest along Bricklandia’s waterways. It’s instantaneous and endlessly satisfying. If you’re playing on PlayStation 5 too, this will all be elevated via the DualSense. There’s a noticeable difference between the smooth rumble of your car on the tarmac versus the laboured chug of your off-road vehicle.
Creating this system of immediate transformation was a stroke of genius. When you begin a race, you’re never quite sure which terrains it will involve which is all a part of the fun. In fact, most races incorporated all three, so be careful when choosing your three-part loadout. You’ll want to take a look at the various vehicles’ acceleration and top speed. If you opt for something a little weightier on land, you may want to make up for it with a light and speedy option on water. It’s fun to experiment, particularly as you quickly acquire more vehicles through beating opponents.
To begin with, I did wonder if racing was a tad too easy, perhaps even orchestrated. I’d find it near impossible to place higher than the middle of the pack until the final lap when suddenly, I’d be out in front. Those concerns that I’d automatically ‘won’ though were soon put to rest. LEGO 2K Drive eases you into things. By the time you reach Prospecto Valley and Hauntsborough (the third and fourth lands you’ll unlock), you’ll be facing some far tougher adversaries that’ll have you altering your tactics and load-ups in order to win.
LEGO 2K Drive’s races are littered with power-ups. You’ll need to speed, boost, and drift your way around the track, but you can also fire missiles at opponents, enter a ‘ghost’ mode, or send out an electric shockwave just to spice things up. My personal favourite sees you acquire a double set of cannons firing out LEGO bricks, essentially destroying the cars ahead of you. A clever utilisation of power-ups can certainly alter the race. Holding onto that missile to use on your opponent a few hundred yards before the finish line can be the difference between winning and losing.
I’m somewhat of a chaotic driver in these types of games but actually, that comes in handy here. The more you crash into and destroy, the more your boost metre is filled - and you’ll need to utilise boost throughout the various races if you want to win. Your regular speed alone just isn’t going to cut it. So does veering through a line of 100 traffic cones look graceful? No, it doesn’t but who’s the one laughing in the end? Me as I crossed the finish line with my vroomy zoomy boost.
LEGO 2K Drive is a racing game, but it’s actually not all about racing. The various lands you visit are packed full with quests and challenges. You can’t just avoid these in the main campaign either. You’ll need to complete both in order to increase your XP and reach the required level to proceed with certain races. Challenges will test your driving skills in various ways. You may be asked to complete a circuit in the fastest time, use boosts to speed your way through a tunnel, roll a nugget of gold across a bridge or a golf ball into a hole - there’s even one where you mow weeds.
The list goes on. Each challenge comes with a bronze, silver, and gold tiered reward. The better your performance, the more XP and in-game currency you earn. These challenges aren’t easy either. On my playthrough, I think there was one single challenge I attempted where I got a silver medal the first time. I typically qualified for the bronze tier. There’s definite replayability in this. I could certainly see myself attempting to best my score in the future.
The quests were more unexpected, but equally just as fun. In one instance, I had to pick up residents and drop them off in a safe zone as a zombie-like horde appeared, attempting to overwhelm and destroy my vehicle. In another, I had to defend three generators from invading aliens carrying explosives, driving around destroying as many aliens as I could - a task which was so much harder than it sounds. You can’t be in three places at once and those generators took plenty of damage. Elsewhere, I’d simply have to locate a certain person - my only clue: their outfit and a nearby point of interest. These quests nicely broke up the traditional racing.
If you’re not satisfied with the cars you unlock in-game, you can build your own. I attempted to do so, but my creativity clearly suits words more so than bricks. What I can tell you is that even though I’m a terrible car designer, the garage mode is intuitive and offers a variety of choices. There are plenty of brick and accessory shapes for you to choose from, as well as colours and paint effects (metallic, glowing etc). You can select multiple bricks if you want to speed up the colouring process, or you can select just one. I have no doubt that some players will have a field day creating a variety of wacky contraptions.
If there’s one downside to LEGO 2K Drive, it’s the inclusion of pesky microtransactions. Throughout the main story campaign, you’ll earn Brickbux which you can spend on various items in Unkie’s Emporium. The thing is, by the end of the campaign, I could still barely afford anything. That’s where the microtransactions come in. You can purchase in-game coins using real life money. These coins can be used to purchase coin-only items, or you can convert them into Brickbux to add on to those that you’ve earned in the game. Personally, this didn’t bother me too much at all. After realising what Unkie’s Emporium was, I simply didn’t visit again, instead switching between the vehicles and drivers I had unlocked throughout the game.
I imagine that LEGO 2K Drive will attract younger players though, so in that regard, the inclusion of microtransactions is more concerning. Beginning in June, LEGO 2K Drive will also launch the first season of their four-season battle pass, containing new vehicles, items, and challenges. This has not yet begun at the time of review so I can’t comment on that front, but clearly once you’ve completed the main campaign, outside of racing online, LEGO 2K Drive’s longevity rests on microtransactions.
That aside, LEGO 2K Drive is, to use a LEGO classic, awesome. The automatic morphing between vehicles is a stroke of genius - keeping races varied and entertaining. Each track offers a new challenge, and the various hubs of Bricklandia are certain to keep you busy for hours on end, all whilst honing your skills at the same time. Topped with LEGO’s signature humour, the story campaign is exactly what you’d hope to find in a LEGO game. LEGO 2K Drive is a classic in the making. Visual Concepts have cruised along the track to victory.
Pros: Transforming between vehicles is great, jam-packed open-world hubs, plenty of fun non-racing quests
Cons: microtransactions, levelling up can sometimes feel mildly tedious
For fans of: Mario Kart 8: Deluxe, LEGO games
LEGO 2K Drive is out on 19 May on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (version tested), Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, and Nintendo Switch. A review code was provided by the publisher 2K Games. Read a guide to our review scores here.