After playing the LEGO expansion for Forza Horizon 4, we wished for a full-on open world LEGO racing game. Well, here it is. And it’s got a touch of Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed in it, too.
As a promising rookie driver, LEGO 2K Drive welcomes you to Bricklandia. It’s a colourful and generally joyous place, befitting of the popular brick system adored by fans of all ages all over the world. But there’s a thorn in its side by the name of Shadow Z. He’s an unscrupulous racer that just doesn’t play fair, and so it’s fallen upon you to bring him down. That means winning races to enter a number of key events. Ultimately, your aim is to claim the coveted Sky Trophy.
Jump into the story mode of LEGO 2K Drive and initially you’re just given access to Turbo Acres, a small open world area where you can learn the ropes before facing some serious competition. It isn’t long, however, until you’re invited to travel to Big Butte, the first of three bigger areas that present a wide variety of challenges, quests, races and more for you to complete. Each of these areas has its own flavour beyond just scenery. Prospecto Valley combines lush countryside with large bodies of water, for example, while Hauntsborough is dark and gloomy.
Moving between these four areas is easy thanks to fast travel system, though it’s a shame that they’re not connected, allowing you to drive between one biome and another. In any case, you’ll need to move between them fairly frequently as you progress the campaign, completing the primary races and quests. Sometimes you might find yourself needing to reach a required level before you can progress, too. Although there’s so much to do as you drive around that it’s rarely, if ever, an issue.
Like the latest Forza Horizon titles, it’s hard to drive from one event to another in LEGO 2K Drive without being sucked in by some activity or challenge along the way. You might find a time trial that you just have to crack, a collectible you must reach, or simply stop to help someone in need. Everything you do is beneficial to you in some way. If you’re not earning Brickbucks that can be used in the in-game store to buy new vehicles, drivers, parts and more, you’re earning experience.
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A little out of the ordinary here, the performance of the vehicles you drive is largely determined by your rank. Starting at rank C, as you level up you’ll progress to B and then A, making all of your vehicles better in all regards. Many of the vehicles you acquire, however, have modifiers that change these parameters somewhat. They don’t seemingly make a massive amount of difference, but you can detect subtle changes in things like handling and acceleration.
As you can travel pretty much everywhere in the locations LEGO 2K Drive provides you, it employs a loadout system allowing you to select three vehicles: one for the streets, one for off-road, and one for water. By default, your vehicles switch automatically, but if you want an added challenge you can opt to manually change your vehicles if you wish. It’s probably not a wise choice, though, as the action in the game can get hectic.
In quests you’ll need to complete tasks such as protecting towers from aliens, rescuing humans amidst a zombie outbreak, and catching rockets. You’ll need to use both the drift and sharp turn features to quickly change direction, and well as boost and employ a variety of pickups to your advantage. When it comes to races, clean lines are important, but there’s very much the feel of a kart racer. Sometimes, then, you feel like victory is snatched away from you. Or it comes to you from seemingly out of nowhere.
There’s one thing for sure, though: whether you’re racing, completing a quest or simply exploring the worlds provided to you, you’re having fun in LEGO 2K Drive. From the moment you’re in control of a vehicle, it’s hard not to have a smile on your face. Its fun for kids, allowing them to blast around environments filled with brick structures, destroying them with reckless abandon. But there’s enough of a challenge here for serious gamers to enjoy chasing gold awards. And for LEGO fans, it’s great to be on the lookout for replicas of real-world models.
All this, and we haven’t even touched on the ability to make your own vehicles yet. There’s a very impressive selection of bricks available here from the outset, with more to unlock via play. You can use up to 350 of them when creating your own vehicles, and the builder makes it easy to assemble quite a masterpiece. Technically, you could even use the instructions found in real LEGO sets to build vehicles. And some of the vehicles in-game have instruction so you can build them in real-life providing you have the required pieces.
For those that don’t have the patience, many vehicles can be unlocked by simply playing the game. An in-game store allows you to unlock some very appealing-looking machines, too. But here’s where perhaps our single real issue with LEGO 2K Drive lies; the slow rate at which you earn Brickbucks in-game may drive some players to spend real money to boost their funds. Thankfully, these purchases really aren’t necessary to progress in the game, or amass a large garage of vehicles.
While the story mode is the main draw of LEGO 2K Drive, which can be enjoyed in split-screen local co-op if you have a friend or family member that wishes to play, there are some alternative single and multiplayer options. You can quickly jump into races and minigames from the main menu, or team up with others to enjoy some multiplayer racing shenanigans. Needless to say, this is a game that packs in plenty of content and modes, giving it some serious longevity. Especially when you also factor in the vehicle creator.
It’s safe to say that 2K and Visual Concepts have hit the ball out of the park with LEGO 2K Drive. We haven’t had this much fun with an open world racing game since Forza Horizon 4. The racing action is tense and chaotic, the open worlds are a pleasure to explore, and everything is just so varied. Everything pretty much is awesome when it comes to LEGO 2K Drive, resulting in a game that’s fun for all ages and skill levels. And the coup de grâce is the vehicle builder, allowing you to truly let your imagination run wild.