The last time we saw any LEGO in a racing game, it was a DLC for Forza Horizon 4, but now the team at Visual Concepts has brought us LEGO 2K Drive, a racing game that is purely for the LEGO fan in all of us. Now does LEGO 2K Drive bring something well-built to the racing genre, or is this just another pile of bricks to step on in the middle of the night? Read on to find out in our LEGO 2K Drive Review!
Name: LEGO 2K Drive
Platform(s): Windows PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S (review).
Developer: Visual Concepts
Publisher: 2K Games
Game Type: Racing
Mode(s): Single-player and multiplayer
Release Date: May 19, 2023
A Racing Story?
Yep, LEGO 2K Drive has a story… But not much of one.
The story, for all its basic parts, is set in the world of Bricklandia, a place where brick building and racing is a way of life. You play as an unknown rookie driver who gets to take on a rival called Shadow Z, an undefeated racer and obvious bad guy according to his introduction. From here, you have to race your way through 5 different Bricklandia biomes facing off against smaller local racers in order to get Checkered Flags, once you have enough collected, you will earn your way into the Sky Race, the ultimate showdown with Shadow Z in order to win the Sky Trophy, the ultimate prize in Bricklandia… and that’s it.
Basically, you are going to be driving around 5 different locations, grinding out levels, doing all sorts of races, and defeating random LEGO minifig characters in order to face off against the main bad guy and beat him from a Trophy. There are some smaller details in each biome, with some characters having smaller storylines that lead up to the final race in each area, but they are so uninteresting that you don’t really need to pay attention to them in order to play or enjoy, LEGO 2K Drive.
You do have a mentor, a former racing champion turned trainer, and his Grease Monkey pit crew (Who are actual chimp minifigs) who will give you hints and tricks to win races, upgrade and change your vehicles, and other usual tutorial and support type stuff.
Best Blocks in Video Games
LEGO 2K Drive is a joy to behold. From the second you load into a race, or the open world of Bricklandia, you can see that LEGO magic that is always front and center in any LEGO game. For the most part, you will notice that about 85% of all the LEGO races and Bricklandia itself is made of those tiny bricks that will hurt if you step on them in the middle of the night… Aka LEGO bricks. They all that that very distinct LEGO look to them, complete with the plastic shine that you can only get from LEGO bricks. Just about everything you see from the cars to the buildings, to even the trees out in the field are made out of LEGO bricks, with some of them having a very square or blocky appearance, while others seem like higher-end playsets that you would buy from your local LEGO store.
Other things that stand out, mostly in Bricklandia (Accessible only in story mode), are real-life items like wrenches, gardening hoses, tin cans of paint, and other objects that are thrown around each area to great effect like this world was built around or built with these objects in mind for the layout, as someone might leave them laying around. The other aspect is the grass, some mountains, and all the water effects look more like real-life versions of the objects instead of a purely LEGO world as other games have done over the years. It’s really refreshing to see an almost Hot Wheels Unleached level of use between real-world and toy-world products.
A Great Racer, Horrible everything else
LEGO 2K Drive has a few different types of gameplay to mess around with. Obviously, since this is a racing game, the racing modes are upfront. From the Play menu, you have access to the Story, Cup Races, Race, and Mini Games. The story will bring you to the basic story that I talked about above. Cup Races are 4 single races under a single cup for you to race against either friend, online, or take down the CPU racers. This mode also has a C, B, and A race class for you to beat, ala Mario Kart’s CC system. So basically, it’s the game’s easy, medium, and hard mode for each cup. Race is a smaller version of Cup Races, where you will do one single track each time. Mini Games are exactly that, mini-games that do not use the standard race formula. These mini-games feature such things as defending an object or location from invading aliens, skeletons, or robots; while others will have you guiding golfballs into a hole or an egg into a frypan.
Outside of the main play style modes, you also have access to the Garage, a section where you can build, modify, or create whole new vehicles using the LEGO system. This will involve you placing bricks either via an instruction manual (If you choose one of the pre-fabricated vehicles) or going crazy with whatever you have access to thanks to story unlocks or buying through the in-game shop (Yep, this game has micro-transactions). The good thing about this mode is that you pretty much do not have a limit on how to build something, so if you want to build something that is a box on wheels, go for it, same with making something like a replica of your favorite style of a race car. Imagination is the limit here.
In the game, however, LEGO 2K Drive does suffer from a bit too much over-tuning when it comes to the controls. When racing, you can do a lot of great things like drifting, boosting, jumping, and other techniques that will allow you to win races. When LEGO 2K Drive is focused on racing, it’s a great game… The issue comes from when you are doing something that requires precision, timing, or mathematical thought. During this time, LEGO 2K Drive feels like playing on ice, sliding all over the place, unable to do what needs to be done. One mini-game mission required me to push an egg from the top of a mountain to a frypan… Simple right? Nope! The egg physics require precision, and a specific speed to get it to move correctly, something that took me over 20 tries to do because the car you use doesn’t have a tight turn circle, the egg’s physics will send it rolling all over the place from the smallest hit, and I missed more hits because of a slight movement from the egg itself. Then there was a pig-collecting game, but when I’d line up to hit the pig to pick it up, the pig would move at the last second and I couldn’t correct in time to get it.
Rebuild it over and over again
There is a lot to do in LEGO 2K Drive, from the races to the story mode to the mini-games. There is plenty here for anyone to play for a long time. The story mode especially will take upwards of around 4 hours or more to complete, mostly thanks to the leveling system being designed to be such a long grind that it takes forever to gain one level, then you have to find the missions on the map through exploration in order to grid those levels.
The races themselves are pretty straightforward but have a lot of little sections and moments where dedicated shortcut finders will be hunting down these points in order to shave a few more seconds off your total time. When playing in split screen mode with a friend (Yes, these types of modes still exist), things aren’t too squashed to affect each person’s viewpoint at any time. The online version of the game’s modes works fine, for the most part, internet connection withstanding. Races are seamless with little to no stuttering, but loading the races might take a little bit depending on your console/connection.
The Garage is fun, giving you the freedom to change things around as you want with any vehicle, but it’s more like a proper LEGO build when you do one of the pre-fabricated designs as you get that almost LEGO build feeling when making them. It’s miles above and beyond anything that you might see in Mario Kart, the king of kid-level racers, or actual racing games. It’s just a shame that the micro-transactions are around, waiting to strike to gobble up premium currency bought with a credit card.
A Solid Racer that doesn’t fall apart
LEGO 2K Drive is a good solid game when it is what it should be: A racing game. The controls are simple to use, allowing you to drift around and mow through all sorts of land, sea, and air vehicles, all in the same race. However, outside of the racing here, LEGO 2K Drive really tries to do things that you shouldn’t do in a video game, especially a racing video game. When you add mini-games that require precision and timing to complete, then the controls need to be tight and available. LEGO 2K Drive just wrote the racing system and then threw in some other things that really hamper the experience, turning a fun game into a frustrating game. But if 2K Games can keep to the racing more, then LEGO 2K Drive will be one of the top racing games this year… Which is saying something.
Review Disclosure Statement: LEGO 2K Drive was provided to us by 2K Games for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please go review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.
LEGO 2K Drive is a great racing game. The world that is built using a combination of LEGO bricks and real-world objects is stunning and looks like some kid or LEGO hobbyist, made this world in their own home. However, once the game tries to do something that is not racing using a racing control system, that’s when the wheels fall off this particular LEGO racer.
- Easy to control when racing
- Lots of variety in race tracks and story biomes
- Freedom of design for all vehicles
- The non-racing mini-games
- Story mode is unintuitive and leaves you stranded too much
- Incoming micro-transactions