Best known for work on the publisher’s WWE and NBA games, Visual Concepts has found itself behind the wheel of 2K’s latest licensed experiment. LEGO 2K Drive is a high-octane competitive racer filled with destructible brick-y environments and a kid-friendly narrative full of fourth-wall-breaking fun.
The game’s best feature is Bricklandia, the playful Lego landscape featuring a 2K drive set. It’s a world begging to be destroyed by the lashings of your screeching tires and custom boat masts. Speeding across the open-world playmat (that no human would ever want to step on) is a thrilling experience, enhanced by carefully animated auto-morphing capabilities. As you traverse different terrains, from road to off-road and on water, players automatically switch between vehicles to fit the context.
Tires and water noodles frame views of the world and act as engaging obstacles, and it’s the mix of real-world objects with Lego that enhances the delightful toy box atmosphere. Dropped into this striking open world as a budding racer, you deal with an onslaught of revheads, claiming your flag for the honor of Sky Cup champion. The mohawked egomaniacal Shadow Z serves as your opponent in this endeavor, popping up from time to time to remind you just how mean he is.
To even come close to competing with him, you’ll need to explore Bricklandia in search of rival speedsters, each with their own unique driving skills exercised in e.g. Mario Kart-style races. From a real horse to an alien in a suit, they make for an eye-catching ensemble as well as providing new cars and perks to play with with Brickbucks, with which you can buy new machines and parts. You can even build your own vehicles brick-by-brick in the garage, which let me build some truly damned rides. While the construction system isn’t the most intuitive, it feels like an appropriate nod to Lego’s humble brick-building origins.
In Bricklandia’s diverse biomes, you also encounter on-the-go events, ambient missions that you can drop in and out of, pockets of wacky fun, such as jumping over houses or drifting through minefields. Conquering the criteria to earn XP and resources feels like getting your license in Gran Turismo high school.
Lego 2K Drive’s constant barrage of dialogue kept me giggling throughout, though the intensity of some of the missions, like the less-interesting wave-defence or NPC rescue mission, left me unable to focus on the jokes. This was always disappointing, given the obvious talents of the writers and voice actors, who provide an effective satire of traditional racing games.
Cursing and blasting your way through the map is easy junk food fun, but some devastating pickups and brutal slow-paced winning races can be punishing when you stray off track. Some open-world missions require you to drive with dexterity and try to rocket or smash through tiny robot invaders, which can be frustrating, where I often felt too fast for my own good Was. While I liked how it made my heart pound, I yearned for a more low-key approach to exploration.
While it’s a bit buggy, Lego 2K Drive’s couch co-op was another delightful surprise, allowing you and a partner to peel away at the open world together, pooling XP as you go. I found myself in the way of bombs or my partner’s targets to make sure one of us got the top spot. In particular, this feature made desert rescue and rescue missions more palatable thanks to the cooperative nature of the gameplay.
Unfortunately, the elephant in the room, or in this case, a monkey, is the game’s storefront, Anki’s Emporium, which was introduced during the tutorial by its eponymous primate mechanic. Here, you can buy premium currency with real money, which can be exchanged to access cars and characters previously locked behind the expensive Brickbucks wall. Of course, you can earn all of these items by grinding, but the temptation remains, which is troubling for a game clearly geared towards a younger audience.
LEGO 2K Drive creates an incredibly inviting world where speed and silliness reign supreme as you run and roam around its delightfully destructible setting. Despite some frustrating mission design and a few bugs, Lego 2K Drive quickly won me over with its nonsensical narrative filled with nonsensical dialogue and more open-world challenges. If only the specter of microtransports weren’t so looming large in this kid-friendly game, it would have made for an even smoother ride.