Upbeat tunes and character voice over work make LEGO 2K Drive's world of Bricklandia a pleasant place to be.
Those lovely plasticky and tactile LEGO bricks look marvellous, while the scenery is similarly inviting, despite a bit of mild pop-in.
Nice, intuitive handling and friendly drifting, as well as cool transforming vehicles, make LEGO 2K Drive an exciting racing proposition. Very nice.
2K's horrible servers cause problems (connecting my 2K account with the game wiped hours of progress), but the wealth of content here is otherwise good.
Not the most creative list, save for one or two fun little tasks. The majority of the list is pure grind and for die-hard completionists only.
May 16, 2023
Last time we had the chance to delve into a LEGO sandbox – other than plunging our arms into a huge bucket of bricks – we were tearing across the open world of LEGO City Undercover and building stuff in LEGO Worlds. LEGO 2K Drive effectively combines both, enabling you to build your own vehicle, then rag it around an open world. Like TT Games' exclusive tenure with its myriad LEGO titles, LEGO 2K Drive has energy and exuberance, and its handling model errs exactly on the right side of fun yet challenging.
Developed by NBA 2K and WWE 2K studio Visual Concepts, LEGO 2K Drive looks the part, perfectly replicating the iconic plastic bricks in a pleasingly shiny and tactile-looking manner, and its selection of themed, self-contained maps have their fair share of landmarks, secrets, and quests to discover. As far as engendering the sense of play that comes with LEGO, 2K Drive pretty much nails it. What it doesn't do so well is provide an inviting level of difficulty for the younger audience it's clearly aimed at. It's surprisingly tough.
Story Mode has you playing as a rookie racer making their debut in Bricklandia, competing under the tutelage of Clutch Racington, battling rival competitors (all of which have ridiculous, pun-tastic names) to win flags, which in turn grant access to Grand Brick Arena races. Win all four in each of LEGO 2K Drive's separate biomes, and you'll have the chance to compete in the Sky Cup Grand Prix, winning the ultimate prize from the game's main villain, Shadow Z. With Clutch Racington and irritating robot sidekick S.T.U.D. feeding you tips, this is a racer with serious made-for-kids vibes, but its On-the-Go Challenges and Quests come with horribly stringent time limits and restrictions, and races often come down to the wire.
Nevertheless, thrashing your chosen transforming vehicle around, boosting off ramps, while seamlessly and automatically switching between racing, off-road, and boat forms, proves endlessly enjoyable, even if the events you take part in fail to provide much in the way of variety. And the ones that do are supremely annoying, and, at their worst, seemingly impossible. Even completing certain objectives sees you occasionally greeted with a 'try again' failure message, and no logical explanation as to why. These all seem like rather daft niggles that could have easily been avoided, but they exemplify an overall lack of polish.
It's something of a shame, too, given how immediate and enjoyable LEGO 2K Drive's loose, knockabout arcade handling is, with its huge jet engine vehicle boosters popping out when you jab the A button, its silly drifting model, and the masses of destructible scenery you leave in your wake. Few things beat carving a path through LEGO trees, cars, fences, and billboards, in a shower of exploding bricks, or launching headlong off a cliff. From the verdant town of Turbo Acres, you'll soon win enough chequered flags to graduate to the desert climes of Big Butte County, then to the Wild West-style expanses of Prospecto Valley, then to the purple-hued spider-infested region of Hauntsborough, taking on increasingly oddball rival racers (a mutant fly fella, for instance) in Mario Kart-style power-up-fuelled races.
There's undoubtedly fun to be had in Story Mode, even if the difficulty curve might be a little too steep for the sprogs, and beyond all that, there's split-screen and online multiplayer, as well as the chance to play some of the frenzied mini-games from the story portion of LEGO 2K Drive. These include 'Defend', which, as you'd imagine, involves protecting generators from robots, aliens, or whatever; and 'Rescue', wherein you'll plough through more robots, skeletons, and other hostile minifigures in an effort to save the townsfolk as they run around in a blind panic. In Story Mode, these mini-games aren't all that enjoyable, but rope in some friends, and they're a good laugh in multiplayer.
With cross-play multiplayer and hours of single-player stuff to delve into, LEGO 2K Drive hits all the right bases, and having the ability to build your own vehicles using thousands of bricks is the icing on the cake. You could potentially while away hours perfecting the sports car of your dreams, using in-game currency to purchase the ideal stats to complement your custom ride, and Story Mode has even more bricks and accoutrements to unlock for your garage. It's all remarkably well assembled, too, its LEGO building element created with simple and intuitive brick manipulation in mind. It's wonderfully straightforward and easy to use.
LEGO 2K Drive might be slightly flawed, its open world enjoyment somewhat marred by unfair challenges and bizarrely tough races. You might be left wondering what age group 2K and Visual Concepts is attempting to coax in with its brick-based racer – it's way too hard for the younglings, and perhaps even too challenging for adult players. Again, there's fun to be had, and LEGO 2K Drive is certainly appealing, but if you're hoping for the accessible, breezy style of TT Games' LEGO output, you might be in for a rude awakening.