Lego 2K Drive launches on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One this week, and after tearing around Bricklandia in a plethora of vehicles, Tom has given us his thoughts on 2K’s new Lego game.
When we first heard murmurings about Lego 2K Drive, I immediately began to think back to some of the wonderful days I spent playing Lego Racers on the Nintendo 64, racing friends and family around colorful tracks in arcade-style head-to-head bouts, and had hoped that we were about to relive a similar experience on Xbox. Much to my pleasure, however, it’s much more than that classic experience, and while I’ve not been reliving any cherished childhood memories, I think Lego 2K Drive has what it takes to help create some new ones.
Lego 2K Drive Xbox review
While Lego 2K Drive features open-world elements, arcade racing gameplay, and maps filled with numerous activities and collectibles, the natural comparison that comes to mind is Playground’s Forza Horizon series. It’s not, though, and it doesn’t feel like 2K has even tried to attempt to make it a Lego-style Horizon game. I think it’s more akin to platformers like Spyro or even Sega’s Sonic Frontiers. The world of Bricklandia, where Lego 2K Drive is set, is split into four uniquely themed maps. There is the tutorial island Turbo Acres, which is a small racing-themed island, the canyon-filled Big Butte County, the lush old Frontier-style Prospecto Valley, and my personal favorite, Hauntsborough, which kind of speaks for itself.
Each area is jam-packed with activities to complete, but not everything is about racing. Most World Challenges you find are generally aimed at driving to a destination in the fastest time, but the likes of On-The-Go challenges will have you doing all sorts, from pushing tumbleweeds into a certain area or jumping over barns — yes, you can jump in Lego 2K Drive. On top of that, there are a multitude of quests to complete that tell their own unique and quirky stories and offer unique experiences, like defending generators from a robot army or saving townsfolk from robot clowns, plus more collectibles than you can shake a stick at. Just exploring each map will keep you busy for hours, and it’s a good bit of fun for the most part, even if it isn’t offering anything revolutionary.
The main story feeds into the exploration side of the game, which sees us playing as an up-and-coming racer who is taken under the wing of an experienced, retired champion and his pet dog, Mr. Fiddles. In true Lego fashion, the entire story is a parody of itself and doesn’t attempt to mask its cliche storyline and predictable plot points, and instead sees its quirky characters push the story along in the similar comedic fashion we’ve seen with other Lego games. While I say “main story,” Lego 2K Drive is told via cutscenes after you complete each area’s Grand Brick Arena to earn a position at the Sky Cup Grand Prix endgame race. To enter each arena, you need to beat all 23 races across Bricklandia to earn Checkered Flags, with each milestone opening a specific Arena. There isn’t much to it, aside from the fact that the characters regularly appear on screen to ramble about some rubbish to you before disappearing again. After a while, it can get a little tedious, and it doesn’t stop after you complete the final race either, so it would be nice if Visual Concepts could offer a toggle for us to switch it off.
It’s hard to pinpoint who Lego 2K Drive is aimed at as the main theme is naturally a perfect setting for children, but the story — which you need to work through to unlock each area and subsequently the vehicles, perks, and classes required for multiplayer — is a pretty challenging affair. To actually complete a race for a Checkered Flag, you need to come in first place, and at the moment the AI seems far too unbalanced for children to reasonably enjoy it. For whatever reason, they’re far too quick, and you almost need to perform a perfect race to beat them in some cases. For me, it’s an enjoyable challenge, but I’m not sure if my 7-year-old son would feel the same if I wasn’t there to push him through the required races.
As for the races themselves, it’s a good bit of Mario Kart-style madness that sees eight racers go head-to-head in circuit or sprint-style competitions. Every track has a different theme to it, offering road, off-road, and water elements that put the game’s auto-vehicle switching mechanic to good use while you’re dodging various power-ups your opponents have unleashed. Multiplayer is fast, frantic, and a ton of fun to play, and I love the combined nature it has with the single-player mode. As I mentioned before, you need to complete the main story to unlock various elements to use across both modes, and while the races are difficult against AI, having everything you do in single-player count for what you can use in multiplayer feels good.
The class system in Lego 2K Drive is an account-wide upgrade to your stats, so every vehicle you own will play like a Class C, B, or A vehicle across both modes, and your overall player level affects it too. The vehicles, characters, and perks you unlock also carry over, and with the multiplayer being the endgame experience, it’s great to know everything can be used there as well. You have three loadout slots to work with, which you can change on the fly from the pause menu in single-player or between races in multiplayer — each offering you slots for a road, off-road, and water vehicle, as well as a cosmetic driver. If you’re not a fan of any of the vehicles you’ve unlocked or bought for the in-game store, the Garage has a robust set of tools that allows you to build your own vehicle from the ground up, although, it’s not the most accessible mode right now and leaves you to fumble through it mostly blind.
One main concern I had going into Lego 2K Drive was how its monetization system was going to work, since we knew there was an in-game store full of new items. I’m actually very pleased with it, to be honest. Everything you do earns you a currency called Brick Bux, both in single-player and multiplayer, which you can spend in Unkie’s Emporium for a range of new items. Vehicles are priced between 10,000 and 14,000 Bux depending on their rarity, and as it stands now, you can rack up quite the bank account from just playing the game. Multiplayer pays out Brick Bux depending on the position you finish a race, but in single-player, even after you’ve completed all of the races, winning rewards you with 125 Brick Bux a pop — that’s not including the ones you earn from destroying opponents with power-ups either. After finishing everything in the open-world portion of the game, the only way you’ll be able to unlock new items is through the Emporium, so knowing there are ways to stash some cash is great. Of course, the option to purchase Brick Bux with premium currency bought with real-world money is there if you’d rather not grind. After finishing the story and only 36% of the open-world activities/collectibles, I’ve amassed 50,000 Bux to spend, and that’s after purchasing a vehicle for 14,000 Bux, so I don’t feel like the monetary system is obnoxious at all.
As a final talking point, when the Lego 2K Drive achievements were revealed, I thought the On-The-Go achievement, The Golden Ending, would pose a problem, but I’d hoped that reaching the endgame levels would make it easier. I’m happy to say that they do become far easier to complete once you reach Class A. The list should be fairly simple to work through now, I think, although you’ll be in for a bit of a grind to drive 6,000 miles, so don’t expect it to be a quick completion.
Lego 2K Drive is, without a doubt, a fun, chaotic arcade racing game for anyone that’s a fan of the franchise. Its open world is enjoyable to explore and there are plenty of activities to get stuck into. While the story can be a bit of a slog due to its difficulty, Lego 2K it offers an inviting entry point for children interested in racing games, mixing in a dash of humor and a sprinkle of over-the-top mini-games. There isn’t anything revolutionary to be found, but it offers hours of entertainment and a good few laughs — Visual Concepts has the building blocks of an awesome new series with Lego 2K Drive.
* *Tom played around 20 hours of Lego 2K Drive on Xbox Series X, unlocking 18 achievements in the process. A key for the game was provided by 2K for this review.