Amongst the pantheon of humanity’s greatest creations, there sits the wheel. This circular novelty cemented itself as invaluable for the advancement of civilisation, with carts, wheelbarrows and penny farthings leading the way until someone created the combustion engine. The 1900s then brought us two further colossi, with the arrival of delicious, sliced bread, and Denmark’s largest export: LEGO. 2K has observed the past, done the maths, and here, in all its glory, is Lego 2K Drive, combining the wheel, LEGO and sliced bread into one – this game has a burger car in it.
It’s interesting to see a game with the Visual Concepts logo slapped on it that doesn’t feature some kind of sporting acronym. That said, this storied developer knows how to craft a great user experience – whether they always do in the NBA 2K series is another matter – and has applied all of that knowledge comes to bear on Lego 2K Drive, even if it’s in an entirely new way.
Lego 2K Drive recreates the light-hearted vibes that TT Games has been mastering for the last two decades, with a touch of the excellent run of Lego movies thrown in for good measure. It’s reassuring to see Visual Concepts nail the atmosphere, whether it’s with the inane little asides from mentor Clutch Racington or the weird and wonderful array of events that have you searching for a bunny rabbit ears-wearing man’s love interest one minute and then fighting off robot cowboys the next. Oh, and I suppose there’s the odd race or two in there as well. One of them is against a talking horse that drives a car.
Racing in Lego 2K Drive feels as good as you could hope, with its chaotic arcade action proving to be an addictive and rewarding pastime. Powerups litter the tracks, each of which grants you a destructive ability with which to ‘brick’ your rivals, and you can speed up your boost’s recharge rate by smashing into all of the trees, fences and parked cars that populate the scenery. The handling is believable, in so far as it depends on your vehicle’s weight classification, with lighter handling for smaller and lighter craft and slower, more methodical turning for the big ones.
Visual Concepts has definitely paid close attention to Forza Horizon 4’s Lego expansion, and there are a host of similarities between the two, though Lego 2K Drive leans more heavily into the wilder possibilities that present themselves. You could well believe that Forza’s foray into the Lego world was a precursor to this title, and that’s a huge compliment for Virtual Concepts and the development team here.
One of the things I love, which truly embraces Lego’s customisation and creativity, is how you can tailor your craft to reflect your personality. As with Mario Kart 8 and Sonic Racing, your vehicle transforms depending on the terrain so you can seamlessly move between road, off-road and water, whether you’re mid-race or exploring the sizeable open-world areas.
As you progress you gain new alternatives for each of these forms, each of which has unique stats, allowing you to choose exactly the right vehicle for your driving style, or for the event you’re taking part in. That may or may not involve a car that’s a burger, or a boat that’s a vampire bat. Besides that you can also equip perks that alter a key attribute of your craft, boosting your top speed, handling, acceleration or maximum health.
You’re aiming to qualify for the Sky Cup Grand Prix and take out highly-strung and widely disliked Shadow Z – he’s definitely a Grand Prix. However, there’s a lot of racing, questing and battling to do in order to get there, and Lego 2K Drive treads the line extremely well between covering the map with events and things feeling a little sparse and lifeless. So many of the On-The-Go challenges are so short that you can’t help but be dragged into doing them, at which point you find yourself battling for twenty minutes trying to get four tumbleweeds into a goal. Lego 2K Drive is an example of open-world racing done right.
Lego 2K Drive isn’t completely without its foibles, though – perhaps we should almost expect that as a Lego game. Thanks to the robust, but not necessarily completely lifelike physics engine, some of the tasks can be hugely frustrating at times, and it’s more than possible to wedge your vehicle under the edge of a building where you’ll need to restart whichever task you’re currently trying to do. It’s a mild annoyance though, and the rest of the game’s activities are so much fun that you’ll wave these moments away as a fair price to pay.
There’s a number of different modes and activities to get into once you’ve had enough of the main single player. There’s local co-op and competitive play for two people across the Story mode and individual races, and though I had hoped for a frenetic four player option, that would clearly be too much to cope with the open-world areas. Disappointingly, 2K has included an unhealthy dose of paid-for additional content, first of which is the Drive Pass for the upcoming multiplayer seasons. I hate the expectation that you need to put extra money down when you’ve bought a game, particularly a racing game, but this seems to be where we’re at with a lot of video games.
Each Season will have 100 levels to work through, and you can unlock more vehicles, drivers and a host of customisation options as you go. Thus far I can’t tell you how much they’ll cost, but you’ll likely work out how much value they’ll offer you based on how much you’re into the game. There’s also the ability to buy more in-game currency with real cash, basically letting you buy more cars and customisation options. The online multiplayer modes look good though, with both cup series and individual races, and there’s cross-play available so you can play with your friends despite their poor decisions when deciding which console to buy.
The Garage is where the magic happens. It’s here that you can customise your vehicles, starting with changing the colour of the bricks and heading all the way through to what every Lego game tries to recreate in some way: building your own creation. Once you’ve got used to the mildly unwieldy editor, you can build pretty much anything your twisted mind can come up with and then careen around Lego 2K Drive’s world in it. You just have to make sure it’s fully stuck together, otherwise you won’t be able to take it out on the track. It’s hugely satisfying, and whether you’re using your own car or you’ve customised one of the pre-made ones, these are actual Lego cars that you can actually build, with a host of bricks to make it all a reality. There’s even the option for some of the cars to view the instructions needed to make them in real life which is a great touch.