You’ve Built A Fast Car, I Want A Ticket To Anywhere

HIGH Excellent racing and presentation.

LOW Lacking some customization features. 

WTF Laughing too hard at a talking horse. 

Triple-A arcade racers seem to be having their moment in the spotlight again thanks to the return of heavy hitters like Need for Speed and relatively newer faces like GRID. Hell, even the tried and true kart racer has maintained relevance lately. Naturally, I’ve not only taken notice but also enjoyed a lot of these titles and eagerly anticipate the next big racing experience. Thankfully, Visual Concepts and 2K didn’t take too long to deliver on that. 

LEGO 2K Drive is a brick-ified racer set in the world of Bricklandia. Players control an unnamed rookie who must compete in a series of major races across four distinct maps. Along the way, they’ll amass a collection of cars, race rivals and explore fully-open levels.

Right off the bat, the lighthearted tone and humor set it apart from other racers, reminding me a lot of The Lego Movie. Jokes are constantly flying at the player and every character is hilarious, from two newscasters constantly quipping, to a bumbling police officer upset because someone is stealing fried shrimp from a lakeside restaurant. 

Aside from the humor, I appreciated how well L2KD uses the LEGO aesthetic. Characters in cutscenes move realistically despite being blocky, and every car the player drives is made of individual bricks that break apart as they would in real life. Most of the scenery and obstacles can be driven through, and make a satisfying clicking noise as they’re destroyed. It’s the closest a videogame has felt to capturing the feeling of building elaborate LEGO sets, only to smash them seconds later. 

I’m also happy to report that the gameplay is just as satisfying as the visuals.

LEGO 2K Drive is broken up into two distinct play styles — an open-world driving game and a kart racer. The first takes many cues from the likes of Forza Horizon, as players explore four open-ended areas full of side missions and secrets to discover. Doing this nets them experience points and money, which can be used to buy cars, avatars, and to level up before competing in harder races. It’s a satisfying loop and I appreciated the variety, especially with the loadout system.

Basically, players have three types of vehicles — street cars, off-road vehicles, and boats. As they drive around the map and hit a specific type of terrain, their ride automatically changes to that specific vehicle type. For example, I had a small electric car equipped, and when I veered off-road, it transformed into a large, off-road truck I had. It’s an exciting way to keep the momentum going, and it made exploring the map enjoyable. The simple act of moving became endlessly amusing. 

The other type of play is made up of races. Throughout the map, there are rivals the player has to beat in order to advance to a final cup. Each one is a ridiculous character, like a talking horse who was sarcastic for no reason, and would keep saying “A horse is a horse of course” throughout each race.

After meeting with a rival, players then complete a race, which plays out like a kart racer. Some are circuits in which they must complete a certain number of laps, while others are sprints where it’s about reaching the end of the course first. Either way, I loved it as drifting and boosting feel intuitive and more accessible than most arcade racers. A good sense of speed is present, and cars have enough weight to make every successful turn feel satisfying without bringing the physics into sim territory.

Owing to the LEGO branding, players can build their own cars using the extensive creator. After selecting a base, they can place individual bricks — almost mimicking a real playset. It takes a bit of getting used to (especially on a controller) but being able to snap bricks in rules, even if I’m not the most creative person. My only gripe is that there’s no way to share or download community cars yet. Visual Concepts said this feature is coming in a post-launch patch, but its absence at launch is a shame. (Also, a bummer? No minfig customization.)

For those who aren’t feeling that creative, there’s an in-game store with plenty of cars to choose from. While I was able to earn tons of free cars and enough in-game currency to satisfy my buying needs, players should be aware that microtransactions are in the game. It’s a shame that a full-priced title in 2023 still has an in-game store like this, with players tempted to shell out real cash. It largely follows the same microtransaction formula as their NBA and WWE games, but luckily there are safeguards here to make sure kids won’t be able to buy anything without parental approval. Prices range from $5 to $60 for in-game currency. Again, there’s really no need for this as the rewards are plenty, but those who want to bypass the grind have that option.

One last thing to note is that the L2KD‘s online multiplayer is great. My cousin and I played way too much of it together, and while players can’t earn vehicles in online sessions, we still had a blast racing around the open world, trying to best each other in races and constantly discovering things like new NPCs, new quest types and even different challenges — a favorite tasked us with driving as fast as we could into a wall with a tunnel painted on it, just like Wile E. Coyote would do in an old Warner Bros. cartoon.

Lego 2K Drive is one of the finest arcade racers around, setting itself apart from the competition by literally building a new foundation for the genre. Like the very best LEGO sets, each of its pieces adds up to a wonderful product. Racing fans owe it to themselves to check this one out. 

Score: 8.5 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is published by 2K and developed by Visual Concepts. It is available on PS4, PS4, XSX/S, XBO, PC and Switch. This copy was obtained via the publisher and was reviewed on Switch. Approximately 20 hours were spent in single-player and were completed. About 5 hours were spent in multiplayer

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E10 for Fantasy Violence. The site reads: This is a racing-adventure game in which players assume the role of a rookie driver learning to race Lego vehicles around Bricklandia. During races, players can pick up and use cartoony power-ups (e.g., homing missiles, rolling bombs, laser cannons) to attack opponents, resulting in large explosions and screen-shaking effects. Some side quests involve helping police officers chase down criminals; rescuing characters from zombies; and disabling robots by running over them before they explode. Some arena mini-games prompt players to disable/destroy the opposing team, gaining points with each disable/destruction.

Colorblind Modes: Colorblind modes are present in the options menu.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Gamers: There are subtitles present in the game, as well as visuals cues during gameplay. (See examples above.) Subtitles can be adjusted.  In my view, this game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: The controls cannot be remapped but there are presets.

Cj Salcedo
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3 months ago

I notice you say you played your copy on Switch. In my experience, Lego games are notoriously poorly ported on Switch, usually taking a hit in framerate, among other things. Any idea if that’s the case with this one?