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When this game was revealed, my mind was flooded with memories of playing Lego Racer 2 and Lego Island 2. Those games came out over 20 years ago, and I was amazed that game developers were taking a chance on the original Lego games again.
Too bad this one isn’t that good.
the pain of coming home
I was pretty excited for this game to come out. Being so excited, I made sure not to get blinded by nostalgia and went back to playing Lego Island and Lego Racers for a bit. Still wonderfully charming, almost terrible games.
I immediately went back to those games when I came across the strangely horrible menus in this game. Flat red colors only. This was horrible, but if it was a reference to those Lego games from the early 2000s, it’s a perfect homage. After this I was mugged by the 2K account implementation which unless you create one doesn’t allow you to connect at all. So after cobbled together an account, I finally had the full game.
Now before we start tearing it apart, what is it?
What’s in the box
Lego 2K Drive begins with a series of meta jokes to introduce its world, main characters, and their motivation to care. If you want to win the big race, don’t go driving.
As opposed to being a purely open world, the game has 4 distinct open hub areas. It has the tutorial area, the dinosaur area, the cowboy area, and the Halloween area. The disconnect between these can be disappointing to some, but it helps make each area feel somewhat different.
These areas are well themed and fun to drive. I’m not quite sure what else you could expect from a Lego hub world. You can smash anything that isn’t a building, you can catapult a group of pedestrians whenever you want, and you can find any number of collectibles scattered everywhere. I’m sure the world is overflowing with classic Lego references, but as hard as I tried, I couldn’t find the Lego Island 2 pizzeria.
As for you, you get some predetermined cars to play with. Each vehicle has 3 forms: a standard race car, an off-road racer, and a surface ship. The car transforms when the game deems it necessary, however this auto change feature can also be turned off if you want a more engaging experience.
we are here to win
The main game is made up of various rival races. There are usually about 3-4 of these per hub area, and each one pits you against a theme-specific opponent. Most of these ‘rivals’ only have an introductory scene where you start the race, then win their car and just drive off.
Some linearity may have helped here, because aside from the few pre-race scenes, all of the exposure is given while driving downtown. This makes the main races feel strange. It’s just like playing Crash Team Racing, except that each boss appears one after the other and appears randomly in each race of the game.
The structure of each of these breeds is exactly the same as well. Your opponent will always start first, and the rubber band AI will fight to keep you in the middle of the pack, until the last lap where you suddenly find yourself in second place and then you win. for 1 or 2 seconds. ALL races are like this.
This repetition, coupled with the rather forgettable tracks, makes the main races a chore. This is especially annoying once you realize that each of these races is limited by levels or locked behind a tedious side content checklist. “Protect the thing, break all the things, jump on the thing.” Each activity is a mindless job that was apparently put into the game to justify the fact that there is a leveling system. I found myself enjoying only a handful of these missions, but I can’t tell if it’s because they were real quality or because they were all about 10 seconds long. Who knows?
infinite toy box
One thing that this game does perfectly is its customization. As with older Lego racing games, the game understands that the main draw here is to enslave a beautiful original creation for hours, recreate a famous car, or simply create the most hideous monstrosity you can imagine and see if you can. you can still win with it.
Unfortunately, I have a form of option paralysis when given this kind of freedom, so I opted to slightly modify an existing car to look like a 1960s Batmobile and then called it a day. Also, the garage in which you create these vehicles features two literal greasy monkeys. When that Lego humor really hits, it hits hard.
The game also has destructibility regarding your car; Every time you take damage, pieces of your car will go flying and it will explode if you lose everything but the bottom 6×8 piece and the wheels. This damage can be healed by crashing into… well, anything. Anything you break will start fixing your car right away.
One thing I think I have to mention is the fact that this game has microtransactions. Some quite expensive. All of these are for purchasing in-game currencies that are effectively used for everything. The strange thing is that the coins are not hard to find. You get more than enough just by playing the game. So much so that I wonder if this was just a studio mandate, like Devil May Cry 5’s superfluous purchasable red orbs. I hope so, because if the need for a 2K account didn’t absorb my childhood love of Lego, these microtransactions sure will. they did it.
Also, if you have an older console and are looking for this game, I have to let you know that while the game runs at 60 fps on modern consoles and PCs, it has a variable frame rate on any older console and will range from 45 to 30. fps all the time, along with some longer load times.
It’s great to have a license-free Lego set again, and I hope we get more of these in the future. I don’t know if it’s the lackluster, almost anachronistic run and mission design and how it clashes with the fact that this is a modern, partially next-gen, FULL PRICE game, but this game was strangely disappointing.
I really can’t recommend buying this. My only hope is that the rather lackluster reviews for this game don’t discourage other developers from making original Lego games when there’s so much potential there. How else can I get my Lego King Baldwin IV vs. Salah-al-Din Jerusalem siege?