Fun But Flawed Open-World Racer

by Jerry

I used to be on board with Lego 2K Drive the second I discovered we had been getting an open-world Lego racing sport, full with the flexibility to construct your individual autos. And having performed almost 12 hours to this point, I’m nonetheless having plenty of enjoyable with the sport. But it’s not possible to disregard a nagging feeling that it actually needs me to spend cash in its in-game retailer.

Announced in March, Lego 2K Drive is the primary sport to come back from a deal struck between 2K and Lego again in 2022. The two corporations apparently determined to attach their names collectively and add “drive” to the top to create what could be essentially the most boring online game title of 2023. Thankfully, the online game itself is way, far more enjoyable than its drab title, which sounds much less like a wacky open-world racer full of cool power-ups and extra like a foul sports activities sport that includes a sport I’ve by no means heard of however which is nonetheless fashionable.

Bland identify, however enjoyable Lego racing

Get previous the tasteless identify and Lego 2K Drive comes proper out of the gate firing on all cylinders with an thrilling CG cutscene and a reasonably quick however enjoyable tutorial. It makes a great first impression. And the second the sport gave me full management, I used to be in awe of what I noticed. Lego 2K Drive is about in a brick-built world full of facet missions, mini-games, collectibles, and so, so many Lego autos. It’s very colourful and beautiful. And huge! The open world of 2K Drive is cut up into a number of completely different biomes, every with its personal theme, characters, missions, and autos. Playing this sport is like attending to play within the basement of the wealthy child you knew in elementary college who had each Lego set. Lucky bastard. But now I, Zack, have all of the bricks and funky units to play with!

The fundamental setup behind the principle story mode is that an evil racer hates you—for causes the sport jokingly doesn’t elaborate on—and you must win the large trophy to show your self the higher driver. To get an opportunity at that huge win you’ll need to earn a bunch of flags by beating rivals, leveling as much as unlock new races, rank up, and ultimately achieve entry to the large remaining match. There’s not a lot to the precise story, however the writing is just like the latest Lego motion pictures, often making me smile and infrequently annoying. And I feel youngsters will benefit from the zanier moments.

A screenshot shows a robot cowboy driving a race car in a Lego city.

Screenshot: 2K Games / Lego / Kotaku

But to win the large trophy and show your self to your evil rival, you’ll must do greater than race Lego-built vehicles round varied tracks, as piloting boats and mastering off-road autos are in your agenda, too. And just like the vehicles, all of those are brick-built. However, you don’t actively select between every sort of auto. Instead, as you race round, the sport auto-swaps between both your automotive, boat, or off-road trip of alternative. This streamlines what might have been an annoying a part of 2K Drive, and in addition means which you could discover your entire Lego-filled world of Bricklandia as you please.

Driving actual quick and attain a river? Keep driving and also you’ll simply flip into a ship! Take a pointy flip off a paved street and onto some dunes? Don’t fear, the sport will swap your automotive out for a jeep with out lacking a beat. It takes the open-world driving of Forza Horizon and makes it much more arcadey and thrilling as you may actually go anyplace at any time.

All the bricks and funky stuff on this planet can’t save a racing sport with unhealthy driving physics or poor controls, and by chance, Lego 2K Drive avoids these pitfalls and is a blast to play. Once I mastered the drifting and leaping controls, I used to be masterfully swooping, swinging, and gliding world wide like a Lego professional. And on Xbox Series X efficiency was easy as butter, making it simple to get pleasure from all of the high-speed motion.

Lego 2K Drive’s disappointing microtransactions

The second bricks begin to fall off this creation is while you begin to dig across the menus, the place you’ll encounter a retailer full with a season move. While the sport does function a tremendous, in-depth, and easy-to-use automobile builder—letting you make almost something you may think about—it additionally options some disappointing microtransactions.

Technically, you may simply drive round, have some enjoyable, unlock some vehicles, construct your individual creations, and by no means actually work together with the in-game retailer. But, in case you don’t need to (or can’t) construct one thing like an ambulance or an enormous hamburger automotive, the shop provides official Lego builds which you could purchase and use in-game. However, all of those vehicles price $10,000 Lego Bux. And after taking part in for 12 hours I’ve solely reached round $8,000.

This is the half the place 2K Games would, whereas twirling its mustache, doubtless say: Don’t fear, you should purchase some Bux if you wish to. This is true, positive, but it surely’s so misplaced on this in any other case colourful romp of creativity and wackiness.

And the best way the economic system is balanced, it actually feels such as you’ll must fork over some money if you wish to purchase a couple of of those pre-made vehicles with out grinding for hours. It’s additionally unhappy that the in-game retailer comprises Lego half packs on the market. These are cheaper than the vehicles (fortunately) and the builder in-game does include plenty of elements obtainable free of charge (and also you earn extra by finishing missions), however the truth that some bricks and bits are locked behind a paywall—even one which you could bypass by way of grinding—is irritating.

A screenshot shows a player building a car in Lego 2K Drive.

Screenshot: 2K Games / Lego / Kotaku

The different huge a part of Lego 2K Drive is multiplayer, which I’ve solely barely poked as there weren’t many different gamers on-line whereas I performed the sport earlier than launch. The on-line races play equally to the single-player races, however with the added wrinkle that your opponents may need spent hours determining the way to construct the best, excellent race automotive. Or an enormous dick. Or perhaps they only spent some actual money and purchased a automotive utilizing Bux. Until the sport is out within the wild, it is going to be onerous to say how multiplayer will shake out, however I’ve some considerations.

It’s actually a disgrace that such a stunning and enjoyable open-world sandbox is tied to stuff like a season move, premium currencies, and costly in-game purchases. Perhaps 2K will tweak some levers to make it simpler to earn and unlock new vehicles—which might be good—however till then the specter of greed will at all times be there, nagging at me as I construct, smash, and race.

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