REVIEW

REVIEW

Lego 2K Drive (Offline)

June 20, 2023

GOOD

  • Fun story mode for a kart racer
  • Lego humour
  • Interesting building own vehicles

BAD

  • One creepy world
  • Some long loading times
  • Weird drifting controls

GOOD

GOOD

When I first saw the announcement for Lego 2K Drive, it felt like it came completely out of the blue, but I instantly knew it would be my kind of game. Being a huge Kart racing fan, it had been ages since we got a new game in the genre that was trying something different. LEGO 2K Drive promised to do just that. By combining, a wacky, Lego-humour-filled story and the ability to not only customise your own vehicles but actually build them – it seemed like the breath of fresh air I was looking for. And I’m happy to report that, on the whole, the game delivers. And barring a few personal peeves, the occasional performance chug on the Switch and unnecessary microtransactions (that I was able to completely avoid) I had a really great time with Lego 2K Drive.

Block-ed

Now, before we get into the details of my personal experience, I want to clarify that I played this game without connecting to the internet. I think it is important to disclose this – because, unfortunately as with so many games these days, microtransactions are very much pushed in this game whenever you give it access to the internet. One of the benefits of reviewing a game post-launch is that you get wind of these things before you log on for the first time.

I’m very happy to report that I was able to spend well over 10 hours completing the story mode completely offline and with zero microtransaction prompts. 

Coincidentally, I was having some connectivity issues at home and as I was mostly interested in seeing if this game had a single-player campaign that could keep me entertained I thought it would be an interesting perspective if, after the initial sluggish download (thanks to my inconsistent connection) I’d be able to play the game without an active net connection. And while I, therefore, can’t say much about the MTX in the game (there’s a series of other reviews out there that already cover this topic), I’m very happy to report that I was able to spend well over 10 hours completing the story mode with no issues – which may be a relief for some of you parents out there.

The First Piece

While offering Cups, Individual Races and a series of vaguely car-related Minigames, I immediately jumped into the Story mode in my playthrough. It’s a pretty straightforward ‘small-town no-name yellow-faced Lego person takes on the evil top Racer’ type story but thanks to Lego’s trademark humour it’s an enjoyable romp pretty much the whole way through. Obviously, taking some notes from the Forza Horizon series, the world is broken up into a few distinct areas. You’re tasked with making your way around each place and as you reach new areas new races, mini-games and tasks appear on your to-do list. Get enough points from completing these and you open up the Final Cup race… and winning that opens up a new area.

Thanks to Lego’s trademark humour it’s an enjoyable romp pretty much the whole way through…

I really liked this format. Not only because unlike the quite serious Forza, travelling around this open world in comical vehicles that control like Karts really brings something different to the ‘Mario Kart’ formula. Throw in sprinkles of madcap characters that you meet along the way, and the wonderful explosions of Lego bricks in each collision and it all feels like you’re actually playing in a world you dreamed up as a 10-year-old kid. In fact, every time you crash into a building, opponent or other fantastic Lego creation – you actually ‘repair’ your own vehicle. It’s an awesome twist that made spelunking through the different areas a lot of fun!

My only real complaints were, one, that while around 80% of the world is made of Lego bricks that are ‘destory-able’ – the remaining 20% looks pretty much the same – but crashing into these obstructions pretty much brings you to a complete neck-breaking halt. I would’ve loved a little more differentiation between the crashable and non-crashable objects. Secondly, one of the areas is spooky/Halloween-themed. And while this really won’t be an issue for most people, I’m not a fan of any creepy motif and the flurry of tombstones, zombies and vampires really put me off that particular area.

Tasks can range from using your vehicle to try to wrangle a few blocky cows back into their pen, capturing bats mid-flight as you boost off strategically placed ramps or finding a wandering mechanic that’s lost his way.

All Shapes and Sizes

As mentioned above, each area has a variety of activities. Tasks can range from using your vehicle to try to wrangle a few blocky cows back into their pen, capturing bats mid-flight as you boost off strategically placed ramps or finding a wandering mechanic that’s lost his way. The races on the other hand feel very much like what we’ve come to expect from kart racers, and while the UI for the powerups probably could use a little more differentiation – it’s still really entertaining throwing a spiderweb at the racer in front of you before boosting past his sticky-stationary position for the win. Finally, there is an array of mini-games/challenges which highlight the other abilities of all the vehicles – from drifting challenges that ask you to rack up a certain number of points before the timer runs out, to wonderfully absurd adventures that have you taking down AI controlled aliens or a horde or robots while you race to save a certain number of wailing townsfolk.

On the flip side, this is one game where a difficulty toggle may have been useful: I finished almost every single race in first place on the first attempt – even when I had a made series of blunders along the way. Things get a little tougher later on, but I wouldn’t have minded a more obvious way to make things a little tougher early on. That being said, I absolutely loved the range of activities they’ve come up with and I really felt that they got the balance right. While they all do start to feel a little repetitive after a while, you don’t need to complete many to move on to the next story beat and I only felt myself needing to grind for some extra points once – and even then I still rather enjoyed doing the same race again and again. And to be honest, that period of repeated play probably had something to do with me choosing to spend as little time as possible in the spooky area.

I absolutely loved the range of activities they’ve come up with!

Build and Control

Another way LEGO 2K Drive differentiates itself from the Kart-type racers is that rather than focussing on one type of vehicle at a time, the game automatically hot-switches between three: an off-roader, a racer and a water-based vehicle. This adds a tiny bit of strategy to each race or challenge, however, they all handle and perform pretty similarly depending on what terrain you’re on and because the change isn’t manual, it’s not like you can outwit other racers by diving into a nearby lake and pulling away in your blocky motorboat as they struggle up a rocky mountain pass. It’s all reasonably well balanced.

It all feels like you’re actually playing in a world you dreamed up as a 10-year-old kid.

Best of all, while characters, different vehicles and unique parts are unlocked along the way – you can also jump into the garage at any time and build your own vehicle from digital Lego parts. I will admit that doing this with a controller isn’t the most intuitive process, however, that didn’t stop me from spending ages designing my perfect vehicle. This feels completely different to anything else in the genre and I can’t wait to see what more creative and skilled builders can come up with. A tiny gripe I had was that even though I completed the story mode, the amount of unique vehicles you unlock along the way is quite limited – and because of this, you’re almost forced to use the latest vehicle even though you may prefer an older one. I expect this may be where the microtransactions come in but because I avoided those the list was a bit smaller than I would’ve hoped. There also doesn’t seem to be an easy way to upgrade older builds (even though there is a booster system that allows you to give your vehicle a unique ability based on your driver skill level).

The controls feel pretty easy and forgiving to use as you’d expect from a cartoony racer. My only small issue here is that you not only have a drift button, but you also have a sharp turn button – and these are not the same. Time after time, I found myself using the tight turn to drift around corners and managing perfectly well. And while that doesn’t seem like a problem, when I then later hit a drifting challenge – I had totally forgotten the drift button option – I struggled to complete the challenge and couldn’t figure out why. It was only much later in my playthrough that I finally remember that for some reason these two controls were separate and pulled my hair out in frustration. It’s not that this drift mechanic doesn’t work (in fact once you get used to it, you get the traditional boost mechanic that really helps you pull away from other racers). It’s just that the way the controls separate that way to turn feels a little counterintuitive and I am someone that loves the drifting mechanic in CTR and MK8D it is somewhere I felt that they didn’t ‘need to fix it as it definitely wasn’t broken’.

Drifting, confusingly, happens in two different ways.

The final build

All in all, I really enjoyed my time with LEGO 2K Drive even though I played offline. Yes, there were a few small personal complaints I had and admittedly playing on the Switch has a few drawbacks (a few long load times between worlds or before races and the odd hard crash and chug in performance). That being said, there was more than enough to enjoy here and the combination of Lego, wacky humour (including horses and cats driving cars), a unique open world and a variety of race and challenge options kept me interested the whole way through and I see myself coming back again and again in the future.

Review code provided by: Prima Interactive

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June 20, 2023

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