I remember when The Lego Movie first came out in theaters, bringing the earworm of a track “Everything Is Awesome” into my general subconscious. No matter where I went and what I did, I couldn’t shake that silly little track from my head. However, it’s been years since I’ve even really thought about that song or the collective damage it likely did to my brain. That is until I booted up Lego 2K Drive for the first time, and my mind was instantly flooded with the nostalgia of yesteryear, alongside an instant rush of serotonin hitting my veins.
From its reveal up until its release, it was hard to contain my excitement for Lego 2K Drive. This first partnership project between The Lego Group and 2K Games looked stunning in its trailer, and it looks just the same on my screen. My eyes were filled with bright colors flashing by at the speed of sound, and tight controls helped the driving action feel as responsive as I could have dreamed. Everything was great, thankfully, until I started to notice some of the bricks lifting, compromising the quality of the build.
The Lego Racers Successor We Needed
From an early age, I was always in love with Legos and would do anything I could to be enveloped in the world that they brought forward. No matter if it was playing with them physically, designing massive sculptures that would normally be toppled over by my older brother, or interacting with different Lego video games, I couldn’t get enough of the property.
When Lego Racers came onto the scene in 1999, I was starstruck. This was everything I ever wanted in a video game. For the time, it had unrivaled character customization, which looks paltry and anemic by today’s standards, and customizable vehicles. But to me, this was my comfort game, my favorite thing on the market and I couldn’t get enough.
After being treated to the admittedly dorky but humorous introduction, I was almost immediately thrust into the driver’s seat of a shiny red convertible, learning how to rule the road. And let me tell you, it felt amazing. While the world of Lego Racers hasn’t aged as well as I would have liked it to have, Lego 2K Drive is something that will stand the test of time a bit better than its predecessors did.
No matter what type of terrain you are on, vehicles handle like a dream. While the drifting system does take a little time to get used to, you’ll find yourself nailing hairpin turns without second-guessing yourself quickly. Pair this with multiple biomes full of destructible environments, and you’ve got yourself the perfect afternoon of debauchery. A flood of nostalgia instantly hit my brain, and it felt like I was transported back into my childhood in the best way possible.
When engaging in my first race, things immediately felt tense. I found myself at the back of the pack, dodging power-ups while blasting other racers with special items of my own. The streets roar with the sound of rubber on the tarmac, and the sound of exhaust booming into my ears. Even the catch-up, or rubber banding, is fine-tuned to perfection, letting you catch up if you’re too far behind, or keeping your enemies close right before a photo finish. The racing on show here is some of the most impressive I’ve seen in years, so kudos to the development team to make even the most basic of races exciting.
A little side note: for those of you hoping to take to the streets with your fancy Sim Racing setup, you may be interested in knowing if Lego 2K Drive works with popular wheels like the Logitech G29. Unfortunately, it doesn’t, so you’ll only need your driving gloves to help you keep a grip on your controller. (It’s me, likely the only person who cares if this game has wheel support.)
Flex Your Brick-Building Skills
While the gameplay stands triumphant, a racing game isn’t anything without a stacked roster of different vehicles that you can take out for a spin. While juggernauts like Forza Horizon may have access to a plethora of real-world cars, can you drive a Hamburger through the streets in that one? I think not, and that’s Lego 2K Drive‘s biggest selling point: a free-building car creator. Yes, you can purchase vehicles, but that’s something we are going to cover a little later in this review. However, one of the most impressive parts about 2K Drive is the amount of depth that it brings to the table when creating your dream car.
“Sure, you could stick to the different vehicles that are offered to you through your adventure in the world of Bricklandia, but nothing beats seeing your own custom creation hit the road, the dirt, and the seas.“
Sure, you could stick to the different vehicles that are offered to you through your adventure in the world of Bricklandia, but nothing beats seeing your own custom creation hit the road, the dirt, and the seas. You see, the biggest hook that Lego 2K Drive brings to the table is the ability to drive anywhere you set your sights on. While you may not have the ability to take to the air in some sort of plane contraption just yet, if you see a location on the map, you can drive on it.
Another part that helps bring this realization to life is the destructibility of the environments that you’re in. Smatterings of Lego Bricks will be left in your wake as you plow into fences, vehicles, and just about anything in your way, minus buildings. You still can’t smash those, no matter how large your vehicle is.
The process of swapping your vehicle is easier than it should be and leaves you out of the action for just a few moments at most. Accessing your menu, you can swap into a new vehicle any time you aren’t partaking in a big race, and get right back into the action. You don’t need to stop at a Garage or any other building to swap a vehicle, so the fun never stops. This keeps the action feeling frenetic and exciting, rather than coming to a stop any time you want to take a new vehicle out for a spin.
Multiplayer Is A Blast And A Half
Another portion of Lego 2K Drive that stands out to me is multiplayer, alongside some general kudos toward the performance of this particular racer. My wife and I are big fans of Mario Kart and have found it hard to find a racing game that we can both enjoy playing together. Be it extreme difficulty, or just general game feel, something doesn’t mesh between our two playstyles. However, Lego 2K Drive may have found itself in our game night rotation, due to how well things work together.
Due to the arcade-racing nature of 2K Drive, it is a rather accessible game to jump right into. No matter if you’re playing through a simultaneous split-screen Career Mode, or just want to play around in a few of the different races that are readily available, jumping right into the action is simple, effective, and most importantly, fun as hell. We both found ourselves grinning, even if I was going around the map trying to accomplish On The Go missions while she was just slamming into things to watch the bricks go flying. Besides general races, you can do what you want, when you want to.
There aren’t any compromises when you’re jumping into the Multiplayer mode, either. You’ll still be able to see the smallest details, such as the small bumps on the glass of buildings, and countless bricks flying through the air when you smash into the environment. It’s a beautiful game both in Single Player, alongside the Multiplayer offerings.
At least on PlayStation 5, the performance is extremely good. During both single-player and multiplayer sessions, I can’t recall a single moment of slowdown, which is extremely important in a fast-paced twitchy racer like this. A rock-solid 60 FPS keeps the action intense, but still light-hearted when it comes down to it. This is a perfect example of how to make a racer look and play amazingly well, and it is optimized to make sure it isn’t eating up half of your hard drive.
Some Scuffs Ruin An Excellent Presentation
Now comes the bad news. Lego 2K Drive has one massive flaw that can make or break the experience for a large audience of players, and that’s the sheer number of Microtransactions available in this game. It’s a 2K Game, did we expect any differently? It’s a shame because this could have been the perfect game to jump into a quick race online, but I can already see the online portion being dominated by players that aren’t afraid to whip out a credit card and get some extra vehicles.
“The biggest problem is, vehicles start at 10,000 Cash. You’re going to need to grind races for hours to achieve this sort of money, but why do that when you can drop $5 and get the cash you need to get some of the most overpowered vehicles available?”
See, as you progress through the Career Mode, you’ll earn Cash that you can use to purchase new vehicles, drivers, and items for your custom creations. The biggest problem is, vehicles start at 10,000 Cash. You’re going to need to grind races for hours to achieve this sort of money, but why do that when you can drop $5 and get the cash you need to get some of the most overpowered vehicles available?
Using the popular and familiar method of a rotating shop of goodies, you’ll need to hop onto 2K Drive at least once a week to see if any new items could disrupt the current Meta of great cars. Yes, it’s an arcade racer, but if you’re hoping to win a few online races, you’ll need to either create an excellent custom car or drop the cash and buy something that has +8 Speed.
Alongside a rotating shop, there are different Passes available for purchase that will give players willing to throw down a few bucks more access to a variety of vehicles, coins, and more. This can ramp the already expensive purchase up to a new level and can ruin the fun for players trying to keep it as inexpensive as possible. Sure, as mentioned above, you can grind for a while and get that cash, but the paltry amounts you win after races are not going to get you close to your goal any time soon. Seeing the shop is like stepping on a LEGO: it hurts at first, but you just kind of deal with it for a while afterward.
The only other major complaint I can bring to the table is the lack of a track editor. You would think in a game such as this, you would be able to jump in and create your own massive tracks full of the most daring stunts around, but maybe that will be introduced in the future. Unfortunately, likely as paid DLC.
Lego 2K Drive is a near-perfect arcade racer that will have nostalgic fans, such as myself, finding it nearly impossible to tear themselves away from the screen. With humorous writing that will have your sides in stitches, to the bombastic races that challenge you to think outside of the box a bit, this is a title worth diving into, even if predatory microtransactions can ruin some of the experience. No matter if this is your first foray into the world of arcade driving, or if you’ve been playing since the early days of Lego history, it’s hard to deny that Lego 2K Drive is anything less than fantastic.
LEGO 2K DRIVE
● Gorgeous Presentation & Sound Design
● Dorky, yet endearing dialog and Career
● Multiplayer is a blast and a half, and performs impeccably
● Microtransactions? More like Maximumtransactions.
● No track editor feels like a missed opportunity
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review. Reviewed on PS5