REVIEW: Lego 2K Drive (PS5)

May 28, 2023

Written by Jamie Galea

Lego and Cars are two things that go hand in hand with one another. There’s a long history of the company designing some satisfying car models, whether wholly original or collaborations with car manufacturers. Said history even extends to the game’s video game efforts, with one of its earliest, 1999’s Lego Racers, being a game where you can build and race your own designs. Lego 2K Drive aims to channel this heritage into a contemporary racing game, and for the most part succeeds, despite a few stumbles along the way.

The core of Lego 2K Drive is in its story mode, which sees your driver aim for the highest racing honour in Bricklandia: the Sky GT. In order to even touch the sky though, you need to prove you mettle across the land against a series of rivals spread across Bricklandia and its various Gran Brick Arenas.

It’s a decent enough setup to explain what you’re doing, and goes no further than that. The characters are fine and the gags about as enjoyable as you’d expect out of the general Lego style, but it’s humour that’s definitely aiming for the kids. A genuine highlight is that there’s a prominent character with the name Parker Carr, which is a name that never ceases to get a smirk out of me.

As far as the general racing goes, it’s relatively basic but easy enough to understand. If you’re familiar with any kart racer or similar enough racer, you know what to expect: big jumps, wild track designs and lots of item pick ups. The game won’t throw you off with anything super unique, but there’s some neat little wrinkles the game attempts to stand out from its competitors.

First off, every race is assigned a rival character, highlighted with a fun little intro cinematic. These rivals also have a unique ability associated with them to make them more challenging, such as gaining boost each time they hit a checkpoint. It’s a neat little twist, though the game never really does much to make them truly memorable. They’re kinda just there, and I think the game is worse off for it. For instance, one of your rivals is an honest to god horse that drives a car, which is a fantastic sight in its own right, but it doesn’t do anything more with it.

Then there’s how Lego 2K Drive handles its vehicles. Effectively, you always have three vehicles equipped at any time: one for standard roads, one for off-road and a boat. Each vehicle has their own specific weight class and their own unique stats, plus you can also set a specific character and set of perks as a loadout.

It’s an interesting idea, especially since that you’re able to switch vehicles at will, or automatically if you prefer. Though unless you’re really wanting to try some specific builds or combos, you can get by with just the one loadout and modifying it as you progress throughout the game.

Lastly is the way the game handles turbo boosting. You effectively have boost available to you at any time, and you accrue it via racing. In true arcade racing tradition, you gain it faster by drifting or by plowing through objects in a track. It means that races tend to be much faster and aggressive than most in the genre as you’re constantly fighting to keep that boost meter full.

Drifting is something you’ll be doing a lot of since not only is it a great way to build up boost, it’s a better way to turn the car since you have an enormous turning circle while driving. Between drifting and quick turn braking, vehicles feel a bit too heavy to turn, and while the game has a number of different weight classes, the balance never feels quite right. Even the lighter vehicles tend to be heavier than you’d expect, which aside from some stat tradeoffs, don’t feel all that much different from the heavier vehicles.

The thing that will surprise you about racing in this game is how close and tight races will be. While races aren’t the hardest, they all tend to closely fought, where you’re never really breaking away from the pack. You’ll be lucky to only just get first place right before the end of the last lap, let alone win with more than a few seconds ahead of second place. You really have to fight to gain positions and hold onto them, meaning you need to be more switched on than in most games of its type.

While racing is the key to progression, there’s a lot of things to do inbetween races. Whether it’s small challenges that you can knock out in a couple of minutes, quests for characters that involve finding specific items and returning them, or taking part full blown mini-games. Hell there’s even collectibles if that takes your fancy. There’s a lot to do and discover if you just want to mess around in the world, and it never really feels overwhelming.

It’s here you realize that developer Visual Concepts have done a pretty good job of creating a Lego open world that’s great for racing and just futzing around in. It’s a blast to get from point A to point B, smashing things along the way and hooning around. If you’re a long time fan of Lego, there’s a heap of references to Lego sets/in-universe brands, and even recreations of licensed Lego models, such as the McLaren Solus GT. It all feels really cool and goes a long way to making the world standout.

While it’s fun to just plow through objects, the open world stuff is at its least interesting when you’re made to stop racing and go do side content in order to advance throughout the game, whether that’s due to level gating or an activity you’re made to do. It’s not that the side content is particularly bad or not worth doing, but it just feels like it’s doing this to pad out the game time, which isn’t always the greatest.

Probably the most intriguing thing about the game is its vehicle editor. While the game is more than happy to allow you to edit any of the existing vehicles that you own, the real meat is making your own vehicle from scratch. If you’ve got the time, and can get used to its interface, the game has the bricks and means for you to create some beautiful or beastly works.

What’s surprising isn’t that it’s limited to just your standard Lego bricks either, there’s also the inclusion of the more complicated and versatile Technic bricks if you really want to get your hands dirty. There’s even more parts to unlock in the game world if you’re wanting to go even further with vehicle creation.

Which is why it’s baffling that you can’t share any of your creations online. It’s especially bizarre given how the game is fairly progressive on the online front, featuring cross play, cross save, and even its own dedicated cloud saving systems. It’s such a weird omission for a game that has a fairly dedicated editing tool, and can hopefully be addressed in a future update.

Speaking of updates, one thing I genuinely hope gets addressed over the next year or so is how the game handles its premium shop. While you can earn everything using in-game currency, the payouts you receive from races or side content aren’t great. It’s especially jarring when most of the better vehicles, or even things like additional parts for the vehicle editor or minifigs to play as can only be found in the shop. It’s a bummer that a game like this even has it.

With all that said, Lego 2K Drive is a good first attempt at a Lego specific racing game. It’s not perfect, thanks to its premium shop, sometimes spotty handling and how it handles its creation suite, but when you’re just playing the game it’s a fun time. Racing feels competitive and the open world is genuinely fun to move around in. There’s plenty here to work on for a sequel, and when that happens, I’d be incredibly keen to check it out.

RATING: It’s Fine

This game was reviewed on a Playstation 5 with a code provided by the publisher.

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