LEGO 2K Drive Preview
The idea of jumping into a brand new LEGO game centered around not only racing but exploring a lush and expansive LEGO world immediately piqued my interest. The modern franchise has always offered minor exploration on foot (or with flying mini-figs) but this is something different. This is a natural progression into a different genre than the typical adventure platforming. When I got to sit down at 2K Games and go hands-on with the upcoming LEGO 2K Drive I was absolutely floored by what it has to offer.
First and foremost, this is a LEGO game through and through. You can expect exactly the same campy, charming – if childish – humor we have all seen in previous entries. The first world to explore after the tutorial was named “Big Butte,” with all its associated butt jokes on full display. It might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but the development team knows how to make a good cheeky pun rather than dumping simple potty humor.
A LEGO Arcade Racer for All Ages
I had ample time to explore the world, participating in a few races and events to get a feel for the driving mechanic. It’s definitely an arcade racer, but it’s an experience more akin to Mario Kart 8. You’ll not only have a dedicated drift button but a Sharp Turn button as well. This can make for some exhilarating turn-on-a-dime moments, and in a few of the races I tried, it was a necessity to shave precious seconds. It took no time at all to find myself comfortably zipping across the landscape and smashing into buildings, plants, and people with reckless abandon and a huge smile on my face at the classic LEGO carnage.
I was immediately enthralled when I discovered the car I was driving across the streets of the city would instantly and automatically transform into an offroad vehicle as soon as my tires hit the dirt. It would transform again into a boat whenever I came crashing down into the water. Each change was instantaneous, with no loss of control or momentum. I found Time Trial races that had me race off a ramp and land in the water, changing into a boat and propelling myself over a bridge, only to land on a street and take off in my beautiful red sports car. Not only is it a lot of fun, but winning races and defeating certain racers will unlock their vehicles for you to drive as well.
Full Mayhem Matchups
While the open-world exploration has its own point-to-point races and events much like the Forza Horizon series, its sanctioned races are very similar to the previously mentioned Mario Kart 8. The AI proved to be a tense but comfortable challenge. It never felt like I was being rubberbanded to stick with the pack, but the tenacity of the other drivers and the intelligence of their AI kept me invested and engaged right until I crossed the finish line. LEGO 2K Drive also has its own set of unique power-ups and items like turning invisible and passing through solid objects, a lock on missile launcher, and shooting a LEGO spider at another racer to cover them in webbing and slow them down. They are frequently available and add even more chaos and mayhem to the race.
My favorite event I encountered took place in a crowded, compact city. It was a mad dash to collect as many doughnuts as possible. However, there was only ever one doughnut on the map at a time. As soon as it was collected, the next one randomly appeared. It was chaotic and frantic fun. Nothing was safe as the vehicles tore through the city in pursuit of plastic pastries.
Incredible Customization to your Heart’s Content
Of course, what good is a LEGO game without building? I am incredibly happy to tell you that LEGO 2K Drive features a robust, responsive, and very impressive vehicle-building mechanic that I could have spent all day fiddling with. Players will be able to custom-build street vehicles, offroad vehicles, and water vehicles. Brick. By. Brick. You’ll start with a variety of frames to build off of. From there, just like real LEGO, the only limit is your imagination. I had access to what seemed like just over 100 unique brick types and the folks at 2K assured us there would be around 1000 bricks available.
Positioning of each and every brick is up to you, and they snap into place as if the pieces were in your hands. Each brick can be colored to your heart’s content, and the potential for this mode is absolutely staggering. The physics of your vehicle will even play an important part in how it handles; one player built their vehicle with a thick arm of bricks reaching far off to one side and nothing to counter the offset balance. In the test mode, their car automatically leaned on two wheels and struggled to turn. Not only can you build vehicles for all three categories, but you can also create custom loadouts and combinations to swap between on the fly. With such an incredible level of creative control, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see players making themed combinations of popular properties like Batman and his wide array of vehicles.
Considering LEGO’s already fantastic deal with licensed properties – particularly LEGO Dimensions – the potential for DLC in LEGO 2K Drive to add new worlds based on popular franchises, as well as premade vehicles and playable mini-figs, is huge. A Superhero world, Batman, Harry Potter, or even a Super Mario DLC pack has enormous potential for this game. I even spotted a tab in the customization section to share creations online. No doubt we will see some truly fascinating builds across the community. Who wouldn’t want to race in the TARDIS? Or a Mad Max-style offroader? While there is a size limitation to how big you can build your vehicle, it is a very generous amount of space for all manner of creations.
Share Content and Play Together
How could LEGO 2K Drive get any better? It will feature not only up to six players online but also has two-player split-screen gameplay. You and your friends will have free reign to zip around whichever world you load into. Anyone can activate a race or event and pull the other players into it, regardless of distance.
When it was time to leave 2K I didn’t want to put the controller down. I was sad and disappointed that I had to stop playing. That isn’t something I’ve felt over a game in some time. I was only playing an unfinished build of the game but, to me, 2K has struck gold with LEGO Drive. With local and online play, great controls, an astounding system for vehicle creation, and so many other great features, LEGO Drive could be the new standard of LEGO games going forward. For more information on LEGO 2K Drive, be sure to check out the game’s official website.