LEGO 2K Drive Review – Bold arcade racer

A heat-seeking missile is heading straight for my little LEGO Canta. No way my little car will survive such an explosion, what am I supposed to do now! Jump of course, I mean, have you never seen a Canta jump five meters into the air? LEGO 2K Drive is filled to the brim with such crazy scenarios. A game that dares to take risks, but, like the rocket on my Canta, it doesn’t always manage to hit the mark.

A positive impression

During my preview session of LEGO 2K Drive, the races really stood out for me. I called it then a delicious soup of Chaos where all the parts come together. After that preview, I don’t think much has changed, but I have to say it felt pretty finished even then. So I can confidently say that that positive impression still applies to the races.

The controls feel as delightful and fluid as ever. This is mainly due to the mix of actions you can perform. In addition to accelerating and braking, you can drift, boost, use power-ups and even jump. These actions all complement each other and, in a way, are connected. For example, the jump button allows you to jump over various enemy power-ups, such as bombs and missiles, but these actions can also work together. For example, if you make a good long drift, your boost meter is replenished. During a race, it feels really great to drift a perfect turn and then immediately empty my fully replenished boost meter and literally leave the competition in smoke. On a track like Clover Mines, you can even take that drift and boost combo to the extreme. If everything goes perfectly on this map, it is possible to boost almost constantly and thus go really mega-fast. That immediately brings me to another part that makes racing so much fun: the tracks.

LEGO 2K Drive contains 26 diverse and beautifully designed tracks. The tracks are officially divided into four regions, but one of those regions contains only two tracks. What appealed to me the most is the diversity of tracks. Personally, I was a big fan of tracks with a lot of water, because I could just make the smoothest moves there. Tracks like Vessel Run and Swampus were therefore my favorite. In addition to diversity in surface, there was also a lot of variety in form. For example, the aforementioned Clover Mines is a very small track full of turns and moments where players can cross each other. On the other hand, there are again very open tracks like Glazed Overdrive and Catch Scratch Freeway. Finally, I must also praise the creativity of the designers of the tracks and the dangers hidden in them. For example, Glazed Overdrive is full of deadly giant donuts and in Flytrap you can enter the hell of a bluebottle, complete with fly swatters and lights.

With these tracks and different actions, the game also leaves room open for different strategies, both during the races and outside of them. A good example of this is a dangerous part of the Flytrap track. Here there is a section where a fly constantly throws down bombs. In addition, there are two giant fly lights that send you to fly heaven without pardon. On this track I drove around in my little Canta, a car I already fell in love with during the preview session at 2K. Now I can assure you that the Canta couldn’t withstand many bombs, so I was constantly dying and ending up in the back. After a few failed attempts, I discovered that right before these obstacles you had a moment to grab a ghost power-up. That power-up allows you to temporarily take no damage or be stopped. By making that my priority, I was always able to safely race through that dangerous stretch.

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Of course, I could have also replaced my Canta with an armored truck, which probably would have been the right and easier choice, but not the most fun in my opinion. Customization and using fun cars is ultimately a big part of the game.

The King Crab

LEGO 2K Drive shows this especially in its customization component, the Garage. During my preview session, this was the part that stood out the most to me, and in a way, it still does. The Garage acts as a kind of LEGO simulator. You select a frame and then you can use a wide assortment of LEGO bricks and colors to build your car. It’s basically like playing with real LEGO. The LEGO brand already has so much customization of its own, and 2K has taken that practically one-to-one.

You can even use certain building boards or guides meant for real LEGO in the game. For example, I myself am a big fan of animals, especially crabs. Don’t ask me why, I just find them really cute little animals. So I really wanted a boat in the shape of a large crab and simply looked up a video on YouTube in which a man built a large crab with LEGO. With a few simple adjustments, I was able to create the crab from the video right in the game. After selecting some stats and choosing a name, the King Crab was born.

I was immensely proud of the crab myself, but when I see what wonderful cars the community has already created, my little crab falls into insignificance. If you are really not a builder, the game fortunately offers plenty of wonderful cars to play with, but I do encourage you to use the garage, because in my opinion it is one of the most fun parts of the game.

Rather skip than finish

Still, LEGO 2K Drive has its flaws. At the end of the day, not everything can be great, and this is especially evident in the open world and minigames. In the game’s story mode, you get to move through the open world and do all sorts of little short mini-games or missions, but for me it quickly felt like a sort of waiting room between races.

Many of the on-the-go bits, mini-games and missions were simply not fun and often frustrating to do. The controls, which work so well during the races, just don’t really fit these parts. For example, there was a mission where you had to hit five targets within a certain amount of time while flying. Often you would just manage to hit four of them, but then time expired and you had to start all over again. This really only frustrated me, and frankly, the rewards of these missions were rarely worth it.

Some missions were still fairly acceptable, but these were then missions where you just had to quickly cover a track or shoot someone. Pieces that look more like races than mini-games. At a certain point I decided to skip almost all these parts or immediately gave up after a failed attempt. It didn’t really matter and was anything but fun.

After completing the story I don’t really see myself returning to the open world, maybe only when it comes to unlocking a specific block, cart or sticker. Honestly, I only see achievement hunters and completionists really playing these parts much.

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Shadow Z

I should add that I quite liked the story itself. It’s nothing special, but it doesn’t pretend to be either. It is mostly full of bland humor and references. I especially laughed at Shadow Z, the silly bad guy in the game, and how he kept absent from races because he had to call an electrician or receive a package. Although some of the memes in the game are a bit dated, so they are not really that funny anymore, the humor can be appreciated.

Still, it did disappoint me that the game is really on the short side. You’ll probably finish the story within ten hours, and much of that time is stretched out by some sort of level system. Namely, you have to reach a certain level before you can go to another region, and this level often cannot be achieved just by winning races. This forces players to play the less enjoyable parts of the game just to gain some random levels and move on. Especially the section between the second and third parts of the game felt extra slow, but that could also be because I stopped doing many of the side-jobs.

Price and performance

It’s not all black vision, mind you. In the end, there are plenty of positive things to say about the game. LEGO 2K Drive’s performance is excellent and so far I have discovered very few bugs. The frame rate always remained stable and aside from some late renders during intermediate movies, I never had any performance issues. I did encounter a bigger bug during a race. My cart was destroyed and rebuilt in a strange place where I could not go in any direction. After dying a few times I did eventually get back to my original position, but unfortunately I had already fallen so far behind that I finished eighth in the race. Still, I should add that this only happened once and I didn’t experience any other problems.

Finally, we have to talk about the price of the game. LEGO 2K Drive is a AAA game and you can expect a hefty price tag to go with it. Even though I also consider the game to be a AAA game, the story is really too short to recommend it on this alone. You should really plan to do a lot of online racing or play in splitscreen with friends and family on the couch. Fortunately, the game lends itself well to that.

Furthermore, the game also includes a number of in-game purchases and even a battle pass. There will be players to whom this is not entirely palatable, and I understand that. Still, I should add that it is possible to obtain many of the things you can buy with real money just with money from the game as well. Personally, this gives me a goal to aim for. This way you are not racing for nothing after all and the game still gives a sense of progression outside of the story.

LEGO 2K Drive is a genuinely fun game, but with flaws. The racing is nothing but great, with wonderful controls and plenty of diversity in the tracks. Not to mention the brilliantly conceived and perfectly crafted customization, where the LEGO brand really comes into its own. Yet, in a way, the game misses the mark when it comes to the open world. The controls, which worked so well while racing, are more of a frustrating obstacle in the mini-games and missions, causing me to skip many parts rather than complete them. In addition, the story is on the short side, making the game difficult to recommend for players who are only interested in that.

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