Review – Lego 2K Drive
Growing up, my only avenue for trying the newest and coolest video games was to head to Blockbuster. It was a magical place with an atmosphere that, to this day, nothing has come close to emulating. Even as I sit here writing, there’s a powerful sense of nostalgia in the pit of my stomach. Fond memories of navigating through aisles, looking at whatever caught my eye, are flooding in. I vividly recall grabbing an Anime VHS, which turned out to be my first exposure to softcore Hentai, thus my entry into degeneracy. Blockbuster was my stomping grounds and where I found a title I’d be hopelessly obsessed with.
Lego Racers for the Nintendo 64 is, as the name suggests, an attempt to copy the Mario Kart formula while adding facets only possible because of the IP. I ate it up, so imagine my unadulterated glee when I saw what appeared to be a spiritual successor. All the sprinklings I adored about Lego Racers are accounted for, but does Lego 2K Drive recapture lightning in a bottle – that’s what I plan on finding out.
WEAVING A TALE!
If you’ve played any Lego adaptation, both original and licensed, the pedigree of the writing isn’t going to floor you. The story is as basic as it gets. There are zero twists, but I’ve got to admit, it’s still an engaging romp. It isn’t because there are reveals waiting to astound. My mouth wasn’t ever agape, but it did curl at either side. The lunacy that bombards me is a pleasure to experience. Hell, I chuckled on occasion, thanks to how balls-to-the-wall it is. It’s insanity with a heaping of randomness.
Granted, the ADHD approach won’t be for everyone. Most adults I know desire a stable presentation. They want to have substance and not a rambunctious tale. Someone that won’t mind is your niece or nephew. The little person in your life will bask in the craziness, or anyone with that child-like giddiness, for that matter. Sure, that might mean literary prowess only appeals to a niche, but the game’s aware, leaning into it, which I appreciate.
The slivers of personality and sheer absurdity of the narrative are satisfying. That said, if 2K Drive is your revisitation to Lego as an electronic entertainment medium, the demeanours will feel familiar. Their hyperactive behavior had me thinking that at any moment, a figure would abruptly shout out squirrel. I don’t class that as a bad thing because it had a hand in keeping my attention in a firm grasp. That’s especially factual because of one character.
The interactions between Clutch and his dog are comical. It tickled my funny bone, and I’m not ashamed to admit I giggled. It wasn’t fits of laughter causing my belly to bounce, of course, but the smile on my face didn’t wane. Again, it’s because of how ridiculous it is. Another reason is the usage of puns. Yes, those are damn near everywhere, and if you’re not a connoisseur of corniness, then your eyes will roll. The quality ranges from groan-inducing to cringe, but always awesome.
Like most animated films, expect to find morsels of between-the-lines implications. I was pretty taken aback by the gnarly topics hidden within the dialogue. It’ll never get to unsettling levels, but I did do a double-take once or twice, thanks to it not matching up with the quaint vibe. To go from grim inferences to calling coffee the nectar of the Gods is quite the contrast, even if it’s agreeable.
Maybe this next blurb is an asinine complaint, but the mute protagonist doesn’t work here. Yeah, it’s not like their speaking would add to the story. Still, I can’t help but feel there were banter opportunities and jokes left on the table. It would have been neat to see the verbal replies to the goofiness of NPCs. I know Lego utilized grunts to depict emotions in the beginning, but that’s not a thing. It’s half-baked, but with capable writers and a foundation, I’d be keen to see what a sequel would look like.
I want to highlight your adversaries in LEGO 2K Drive. As far as individuality goes, they’ve got it in spades. Now, they aren’t deeper than a 1-foot pool, but their mannerisms help separate them from the crowd. Thanks to the self-awareness that this franchise bathes in, it goes wild, turning the dial to eleven and leaning into stereotypes, like the pompous rich man. How annoying the impressions are will be a subjective thought, but for whatever it’s worth, I had a blast.
WHO AM I?!
An hour into my session, it became abundantly clear that LEGO 2K Drive suffered an identity crisis. There isn’t a focus as to what it wants to be, and instead, it’s this odd amalgamation of genres. Some seamlessly blend into the experience, but others stand out like a sore thumb. They also contribute heavily to breaking down momentum, severely stalling gameplay. It strong-arms a player to be methodical in a title where speed is key. Ironically, this game can’t stay in its lane.
Upon requesting LEGO 2K Drive, I wasn’t anticipating a full-fledged collectathon secretly hiding within. You see, scattered around the open world is a plethora of collectibles, ranging from gears, jack-o-lanterns, rainbow bricks, and more. It’s meant to encourage travel and scavenging through your surroundings. Don’t get me wrong, the idea behind this notion is sound, but the implementation is dreadful. Bluntly, the execution doesn’t fit the core ideology of gotta go fast.
For starters, my vehicle is equipped with a thruster underneath the frame. It boosts me upwards, effectively allowing me to jump. It’s just as well because those kittens and golden nuggets can periodically be located on buildings or mountain ledges that are otherwise inaccessible. I’ve got no choice but to leap, which is frustrating because the action proves clunky. Please don’t get me going on how difficult it is to carefully approach before hopping, either. I couldn’t begin to tell you how frequently I overshot the landing.
I’ll say it, searching for collectibles is a chore. It’s a grossly tedious task that left me with zero motivation to get it done. That feeling is further amplified due to how desolate and empty the majority of the map is, particularly in the desert. It’s boring, and I don’t care to explore or get 100% completion. I couldn’t tell you if obtaining everything unlocks a fancy toy since I skipped it. When a player is actively deterred from indulging in a core feature, it questions design. Oh, did I forget to note how counterintuitive this aspect is to the premise of vroom vroom?
I can fully concede that if, eventually, I was rewarded with a device that illustrates where each trinket can be found, I’d probably entertain it. Not because I yearn to, but more because I want to appease my curiosity of if grabbing an entire category of items would bestow a nifty ability. I want to see if it’s worth the investment or a dud. Because that’ll remain a pipe dream, though, I sit happily knowing I’ve finished 20% of LEGO 2K Drive – yes, that percentage includes the full campaign.
FAST AND THE FURIOUS!
When it comes to races, they’re fairly standard. Most have me driving in a circle as I try to pass the finish line before everyone else. What truly sets it apart from most in the genre is the destructible obstacles. That’s not to say there won’t be impenetrable tree stumps or the like, but if there’s a food cart in the roadway, then barrelling toward it is typically a viable solution. What can be destroyed is adequately depicted, too, to avoid mistakes during the crucial final lap.
Moreover, I was coerced into ramming everything because doing so positively affected me. In fact, it’s vital to ensure I remain competitive. The vehicles all have nitro, and refilling them requires me to slam against a pedestrian at full throttle. Never fret, as despite their debilitating accident, these Lego figures tend to be resilient buggers, immediately getting back to their feet and carrying on. This jaunt is filled with legitimate chaos and vehicular manslaughter, and I’m jazzed.
Alright, I feel I should clarify why I referred to the Mario Kart formula. It’s not because of the type of game this is, but more because the weapons I can harness mimic those found in the Nintendo Juggernaut. For instance, torpedoes hone in on enemies before obliterating them, à la red shells, while a ghost ability makes you invulnerable with the nice additional boost to how fast I drive, à la the superstar. I reckon the only disparity is that LEGO 2K Drive is frantic. I’d struggle to maintain the top spot even when competing in the lower tiers, and the reason is a welcomed one.
GET THE WEAPONS!
There isn’t a robust selection of weaponry, and I couldn’t be happier. Sure, the small amount does translate to repetitiveness since you can roll the same result consecutively, but it also lends itself to always landing on an offensive item. Thanks to that, I’m kept on my toes since danger continuously looms. At the last possible moment, I could be nailed. Everything could be going swimmingly one second, then the next, the win is snatched away from me in a snap.
Believe it or not, it’s here that strategy begins to pique. One intriguing change is that driving through item blocks while in first won’t automatically default to a coin. I’ve got an equal opportunity to obtain an attack. Say I get rockets; I earn the luxury of instant retaliation, defending my position and reclaiming the lead. I could also choose to bait my opponent, or gamble said item away, hoping I locate a better option. It’s a methodology that’s prone to causing arguments with family and friends, or it would be if I could make a single match.
WANNA GAME TOGETHER!?
Perhaps it’s due to having my niece’s incessant poking beside me, throwing me for a loop, but I was incapable of getting co-op to function. Whenever I tried, I’d be prompted to pick her user profile on my PS5. Well, she doesn’t have one, and granted, making it would likely be the solution. In that case, the fix is direct, but my problem isn’t that it’s complicated. I hate that I have to maneuver these hurdles. I recall plugging in another controller meant access to a local two-player mode. It sucks that in the current landscape, online multiplayer is dominating, and that’s a shame.
THIS QUEST AIN’T FOR VR!
The only word to properly articulate my opinion on side-quests is lukewarm. I don’t outright hate them, but like with collectibles, they’re at odds with the gameplay idea of rapidly moving. Many objectives necessitated me, to be exact, carefully placing myself. For example, sometimes I’d need to drive into a gust of wind to not only catch an updraft but also to have the correct trajectory to launch towards whatever it is I need to snag. It’s monotonous and depends on Lady Luck more than skill. However, it has a solitary saving grace – the time limit’s generous.
I should preface the above paragraph by stating the contents of said side-quests. It’s a mixture of pushing stuff, like trying to sink a golf ball into a hole or looking for a lost cat or lover. They aren’t tough, but I find it weird that sometimes I wouldn’t have a waypoint to guide me. Sure, I’d still have the general location, but that didn’t prevent some aimless wandering. What has me bewildered is that normally there is one. That indicates it’s a bug, but I still wanted to touch on it. Until it’s addressed, it’s cause for irritation.
WAIT, WHO IS THIS FOR!?
It’s time we discuss the challenges spread across the map. There’s a decent buffet, and each fits nicely into the speed theme. It’s due to these, however, that the waters are muddled when it concerns demographics. The goals will generally revolve around your ability to cruise. Things like taking sharp and quick turns or meticulously steering along a hose are a minute sampling of what’s available. On paper, it seems peachy, but in practice, oh, it’s friggin brutal.
As far as buttons go, nothing is wrong. They’re intuitive, with zero delays when pressed. I can say, without a doubt, that it works impeccably. Where it stumbles, no, plummets off a cliff, is how maddening those challenges are. Hell, I dare say it borders cruelty. My reasons for such a claim are plenty. On the bright side, what I’m about to outline is easily rectified. By releasing a patch, my gripes can be negated. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened.
Let me ease y’all in by listing off the tame facets first. The bulk of objectives are sensible. Yeah, there’s trial and error, but learning the optimal way to score a sublime performance is always an engaging time. I enjoyed it when faced with a winding road demanding a sequence of expert drifting. I couldn’t help but feel pride whenever I conquered that ordeal. Lots of folks find the tribulations a hard run provides to be exhilarating, myself included. One minuscule presence, however, is the bane of my existence. Look, excuse my unprofessionalism, but having a timer is bullshit.
The limit I have to earn a gold medal is restrictive. It demands such God damn precision that even as a grown-ass man, I cried. It got to the point where I had to jot down markers at each curve mentally. I’d estimate how many seconds should elapse as I reach it to optimize my chances best. If it isn’t met, I will restart. Let me tell you, that was a regular event. To heap more stink on this crap sandwich, sometimes I’d be a literal millimeter from victory. The dopamine would rush, but then boom, water drips from my face as Lego 2K Drive spat at it.
I’ve racked my brain, trying to discern the purpose of such an anal mechanic, and all I came up with was to prolong the experience artificially. In total, I spent 40+ hours. I surmise 70% was dedicated to entering into a perpetual cycle of ripping my hair out – or in other words, my personal hell. Maybe I’ve just got a masochistic kink. Regardless, these tests of willpower have no business being this painful to participate in. If someone with a lesser grasp on their emotions tried, I can already see screaming, rage, and broken controllers in the future – imagine what kids would be like.
Again, it’s fixable with a quick hotfix – throw up an extra five seconds to balance it. Please help me not anxiously look over and be OCD. It sucks the fun factor dry, much like with collectibles, and disenchants me from completing it. Granted, there are perks I can equip to improve stats like handling. The thing is that it makes no noticeable difference. Not to mention bolstering is rendered null by a leveling system, anyway. By the time I’m at thirty, this whole mechanic becomes pointless. LEGO 2K Drive seems to be in constant turmoil within itself.
BOB THE BUILDER!
What would a Lego game be if it didn’t include the ability to cater to your imagination? It would be a failure, that’s what. Luckily, LEGO 2K Drive has a great creation suite that I sunk hours into. It was my favorite part of the N64 classic, and I’m ecstatic to see it return. I went from making a weird-looking race car to a sports car to an abomination on wheels and, finally, a pickup truck. There’s a good assortment of bricks to select, as well, and by tackling side quests, I get further packs to mess with. My only gripe is a nitpick, and that’s how R1 allows you to switch between categories while R2 shuffles through the Lego pieces inside – I tend to confuse the inputs.
WANNA BUY SOMETHING!?
If there exists a practice I despise in the modern industry, it’s micro-transactions. It’s universally used, and typically, it‘s predatory. LEGO 2K Drive indulges, too. From what I can tell, most extras are cosmetic – I don’t gain an unfair advantage. The title’s goodwill is tested when, aside from the brick packs I unlock, I can also buy some. Okay, for transparency, because I didn’t try for 100% completion, it could be that these bundles are available through standard play. If they are, then my mistake, but if they’re not, that’s greed, plain and simple.
The currency used in this particular store is twofold. Lego Bux is earned from races, sidequests, and the like. I also accumulated enough from a normal session to splurge. I love that it incentivizes me to devote energy to these extra activities. There are coins, but those are only purchasable with real dollars. I got curious, comparing their price and the value of the digital goodies. To no surprise, it’s ludicrous. It’s fast to crumble into a deep sinkhole of dinero because it’s so disproportionate.
What’s egregiously disgusting is I’m not able to customize my racer. You’d think that because this is Lego, a property that wants you to be creative, that would be an option. It’s not, and if I want a new person, sure, a handful are in-game. The cooler designs, well, they cost money. A fundamental point for why Lego is so amazing is locked behind a paywall. Sorry, but that’s gross and has no place here, especially when LEGO 2K Drive is geared toward kids.
FLOWS LIKE WATER!
I’ll forever be impressed by the brute strength of the PlayStation 5. Seeing how it dominates LEGO 2K Drive makes me blush. I tried putting it through the wringer by rampaging down the streets as blocks filled the screen. No matter what I did, though, it kept that peanut butter smoothness – it maintained a rock-hard facade. I must also applaud how crispy the transitions between vehicle states are. Like Sonic Racers Transformed, depending on the terrain, I, well, can transform into whatever is suitable. If water is incoming, I am the boat; if rough roads are, then I’m a powerhouse of an automobile. It’s sudden, flawless, and if I switch ad nauseam, it won’t even blink – optimization deserves a chef’s kiss.
OU, THAT’S CUTE!
LEGO 2K Drive is beautiful. The colors are bright and vibrant, and the shadows are well done. It looks so realistic and helps immerse a player into the world. The grunts for earlier titles are missed, but the facial expressions here are mint, doing an adequate job. When building a car and slapping it with, say, a metallic coating, there’s obvious sheen. Sadly, the environments are sometimes bland, but whenever I enter a town, the attention to detail is evident. It’s not hard to see the individual bricks that built those buildings.
WAIT, WHAT DID YOU SAY!?
The voice acting isn’t dramatic, serious, or thought-provoking, but it solidifies what I’ve been saying throughout this review. Listening to the dialogue brought me to my youth when I’d sit in front of the television to watch Saturday Morning cartoons. It has that recognizable whimsy and comedic delivery that puts my soul at ease and makes me giddy, whether because of genuine hilarity or charm. Musically, it’s forgettable, but props where they’re due – the voice actors and actresses killed it. They did a superb job bringing silliness to the characters and capturing the Lego flare.
AND THE PLASTIC VERDICT IS…
Despite the issues, LEGO 2K Drive is a promising beginning to a potential sub-franchise from 2K. There are great ideas that enamor me, thanks to how comforting they are. I hope that if the plan is to do another, the developers don’t try to toss in genres that don’t work here haphazardly. I hope they concentrate on going quickly and create side-quests that make sense for a car. The JRPG trope of a silent protagonist is lame for this type of journey. Throwing in elements of platforming doesn’t compute. It was when speed was embraced that it clicked, and my eyes lit up. I recognize the desire to implement a sprawling open field, but when it’s this empty, it feels counter to a playground. It’s far from perfect, but the good news is several of my niggles can be adjusted by one patch. Hopefully, that’s not too far down the road.
Really the only thing to pull it down is how bland some of the biomes are. Otherwise, a lot of work went into delivering a pristine graphical fidelity and it shows.
Lego 2K Drive doesn’t know what it wants to be. If you look closely, there’s Diddy Kong Racing DNA mixed in but it just fumbles the ball. It wants to be a jack-of-all-trades, but ends up with nothing.
The voice acting is fun. While the music isn’t as memorable, I loved how hyper everyone sounded. They did great to capture the essence of Lego.
Fun Factor: 6.0
If I were sticking to the main quest, this score would be higher. I didn’t, though, because as a reviewer, I need to experience everything. The frustration mounted and had me wanting nothing to do with it.
Final Verdict: 7.0
LEGO 2K Drive is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
Reviewed on PS5.
A copy of LEGO 2K Drive was provided by the publisher.