Xbox One, PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, PS5, Xbox Series X
May 19, 2023
From playing many LEGO adventure games in my time, I was pretty excited to see what LEGO could do with an open world racing game. LEGO 2K Drive isn’t the first time LEGO has explored the world of racing; in 1999 they released the single player LEGO Racers and its sequel in 2001. Ever since then however, LEGO hasn’t delved into the genre. That is, until now. With 2K coming along for the ride, I was even more ready and excited to put some LEGO to the metal and drift around the world of Bricklandia.
As the new racer on the Bricklandia block, your racing journey begins in the town of Turbo Acres. Here you will meet your two guides, your mentor, Clutch Racington and his little robot helper, S.T.U.D, who make navigating throughout the world easy to follow. The game really does do an amazing job of making sure their players are supported through their time in Bricklandia. As they go through instructions, there are arrows pointing to parts of the screen you need to engage with. Seeing as a lot of kids will be playing LEGO 2K Drive, direct instruction is really needed throughout and the game delivers this, along with charming banter between Clutch and S.T.U.D. They soon reveal to you that the main objective of the game is to defeat bad guy Shadow Z by winning Bricklandia’s ultimate racing award – the Sky Cup Trophy. The main story mode focuses on gaining enough XP via races and mini games to defeat Shadow Z.
These races occur over four regions, each with their own theme. Each are drenched in LEGO charm, from the LEGO cows grazing in paddocks, to random Dinosaur statues in the middle of the desert, to 60s style diner signs. You can tell that the developers really worked on building a world that incorporates the whimsy of LEGO whilst also including elements of a real town. Though the map is gorgeous to explore aesthetically, some times I found the world a tad bare, especially when looking at the world map as a whole and seeing so much dead space void of markers or anything of interest.
Other than the starting area of Turbo Acres, you’ll get to explore the desert landscape of Big Butte County, the gold mining obsessed Prospecto Valley and the spooky Halloween themed Hauntsborough. Seeing as they are stand alone areas, these regions have to be fast travelled to via the many Garages that are scattered around each individual map. The Garage is where you can make and customise your own set of wheels. Vehicles in LEGO 2K Drive come in three forms – Street, Off Road and Water. One of the coolest gameplay elements is the way that these vehicles seamlessly and automatically transform between these forms based on the terrain you find yourself on.
Throughout your playthrough you will win a number of different vehicles and the game lets you choose which is your default car form via the “Loadout” function. Here you can pick which Street, Off Road and Water vehicle you want to transform into, making it easier to try out different vehicles and their different specs. You can also add vehicles that you have created to your Loadout and that’s the main reason for the Garage; Grease monkey, Sunny Monkey, will take you through the process of selecting and working with different traditional LEGO pieces to make your dream car. The process of making these cars isn’t a dream however and I found it quite tedious having to open a bunch of menus, selecting the exact right LEGO piece, rotating it so it will fit and then clicking it into place. The whole process made me grit my teeth and due to this, I did not go back and make any other designs.
The best thing about driving round a world made out of LEGO? Everything is breakable! The game actually encourages you to break stuff as it increases the meter of one of your driving techniques – boosting. Smashing through LEGO structures will add to the blue arch at the bottom of your screen that shows how much boost power you have. Other fun skills are the jump feature, the quick turn that allows you to spin your vehicle round in a second and the classic drift function. All these techniques are crucial to use when competing in one of the many races that really are the bread and butter of the game’s action.
“…drenched in LEGO charm, from the LEGO cows grazing in paddocks, to random Dinosaur statues in the middle of a desert landscape…”
Story wise, each race has a rival that you will need to defeat in order to inch closer to gaining entry to the Sky Cup Trophy. Races are high speed events that take advantage of each of the three racing forms and offer up a selection of power-ups via glowing orbs along the tracks. These power-ups include a spider web trap which if you are caught in, you have to continuously tap to get out of, a ghost ability where the other racers can’t see you and a lightyear function that orbits you a few places ahead of the drivers in front of you.
The feel of the cars on the track depends on which of your Loadouts you are using at the time. The more bricks your vehicle has, the heavier and therefore, less speedy your driving experience will be. I stuck with my sportscar which was easy to zoom around in, though the handling wasn’t as smooth as the default car. Each car does have different stats and I was reminded by Sunny Monkey to go and create a wider or faster model, but I couldn’t bare go back into the Garage to painstakingly build more vehicles. Tracks are unique and include obstacles that corresponds with the tracks theme. For example, The Cat Scratch loop has massive yarn balls and the Dust Devil Run has tornados that can seriously derail you! Overall, racing becomes more difficult the deeper you get into the game but most times, on the “normal” game setting, the tracks and your fellow racers are just the right amount of difficulty that you’ll feel challenged but not overwhelmed.
Placing first in the Coming first place grants you BrickBux, XP, special vehicles and a checkered flag that symbolises a “golden ticket.” When you have collected enough of these flags you can then enter the Sky Cup Trophy. The game makes you work hard to gain this entry and throughout my playthrough I had to reach a certain level in order to make certain races accessible. One way to gain this XP is via mini games. These come in a number of flavours including killing robot zombie cowboys whilst also recusing civilians, rounding up a farmer’s lost pigs and competing timed trials such as jumping over a number of houses via a checkpoint system. Some of these games were confusing and took me a few tries to complete, making me wonder if younger players would experience difficulties playing them.
I was able to try out the different game modes, including online multiplayer with Checkpoint Boss Luke, split screen couch co-op and also the “Play With Everyone” where I completed races with random players. With your mates you can play the story, race, cup and mini game modes, whereas with the “Play With Everyone” feature you can only play race based modes. The online multiplayer and couch co-op worked super well and I did not experience any glitches whatsoever. However, when I used the “Play With Everyone” feature I did run into a number of glitches ending in me being kicked off the server. During my “Play With Everyone” time, my car exploded out of nowhere, the load screen still showed whilst I could hear the race starting for other players and I was unable to accelerate and found myself stuck in place.
Another element of the game that I don’t find enticing is its use of microtransactions. The store, Unkie’s Emporium, is mainly made up of cosmetic items such as brick parts, vehicles and different drivers. These can be purchased with the in-game currency, BrickBux, which you can win via winning races and completing tasks/mini games. However, you can also use real world currency to purchase BrickBux and that’s where the problem with this system lies. Unkie’s isn’t a cheap Emporium either with items being quite expensive when you compare it to how much a stack of BrickBux comes in at. The Emporium is bright, colourful, and is attached to every Garage in the game meaning that it has a persistent presence during gameplay.
Even though you are rewarded with BrickBux in-game, the amount per race win starts at 275 but goes down to 250 BrickBux. With the average price of a vehicle being around 6,000 BrickBux players will either have to grind or resort to spend real world currency if they want to obtain anything from Unkie’s. Morally, I’m unsure if the game should include microtransactions at all, especially seeing as the game’s main audience is children. The game has also made The Emporium bright, colourful, and attached to every Garage in the game meaning that it has a persistent and fun presence during gameplay. It is a shame, as LEGO-loving kids will absolutely adore this hyper colourful and fun ride through a world that is hard not to fall in love with.
- An amazing LEGO world filled with whimsy and charm
- Easy to follow instructions via likeable characters
- Being able to convert from one vehicle type to another seamlessly is fun to engage with
- Online multiplayer and couch co-op works well
- Some of the maps are a bit too bare
- Building new cars in the Garage is tiresome
- Some minigames may be too tricky for younger players
- Microtransactions are a worrying addition to a game meant for children
LEGO 2K Drive is an exciting, colourful romp through the endearing world of BrickLandia where everything is breakable, colourful and the good vibes are turned up to 11. The game shows how LEGO is for everyone no matter your age as I was “oohing” and “ahhing” throughout my playthrough at the care that was put into developing a world not made from LEGO but also interesting to explore and race around in. Though the game does have some issues, such as the not-so-enticing Garage vehicle building mechanics, I had a pretty fun time cruising round’ an open world where everything is awesome.