LEGO 2K Drive is so nearly there. This colourful arcade racing title makes great use of its licence, and has laid down a great foundation for fun, chaotic driving. However, for as much as the LEGO brand brings to a game like this, publisher 2K Games clearly saw dollar signs over its monetisation potential. The end result is a super entertaining racer that's somewhat stifled by a push for microtransactions.
Before we get too far down that rabbit hole, let's talk about the positives first, because there are a lot. To reiterate, LEGO 2K Drive is an arcade racing game that makes the most of the eponymous brand to deliver a fun, free-wheeling good time. Its Story mode is where you'll spend most of your time, although you can also play Cup Series or single races, and of course take the action online. There's a good amount of stuff to do, in other words, and that's before we get into the Garage's impressive building tools.
So, the Story mode, then. You're cast as a newbie driver, tasked with competing in Bricklandia's racing championships, which culminate with the Sky Cup Grand Prix — the winner of which will be crowned the best racer in all the land. You'll quickly meet friends and enemies along the way, and their characterisation is just as daft and lighthearted as you'd expect. Like all LEGO games, there's a good sense of humour here that has broad appeal for players of all ages.
While the main beats of the Story mode are the races themselves, there's plenty to enjoy outside of those circuits. A total of four sandbox maps give you room to drive around as much as you like, and it's joyously boundless. Possibly inspired by The Crew 2, your vehicle will automatically switch between street car, off-roader, and boat when it goes over different terrain types, meaning you can go basically anywhere. The open world is also stuffed with objects, traffic, and pedestrians, all of which can be driven through with no penalty. In fact, there are several benefits to smashing through these LEGO props: you earn boost, your vehicle gets some health back, and it feels incredibly satisfying.
Each map contains its own set of collectibles to encourage exploration, as well as quick-fire On-the-Go events, quests, and other challenges to keep you busy. Some of these are mandatory, and while they're never as much fun as just racing, it's all pretty inoffensive. There's just about enough of this side content to justify the sandbox maps, and again, it's just fun flying around without a care. Whether you're cruising the open world or competing in races, the driving itself is easy to grasp and highly enjoyable; big, meaty drifts charge your boost meter, while a quick-turn and generous jump allow you to have decent manoeuvrability.
When you do get out on a track, races feel more akin to a kart racer. This is largely due to a selection of power-ups and weapons you'll use Mario Kart-style to clear the way to first place. Some of them are pretty standard, like homing rockets and bombs you roll forward, while others are more imaginative. The ghost power is an evasive tool that can be quickly turned into an offensive one, while the teleport feels like a throwback to LEGO Racers on PS1.
You can swap your set of vehicles for others that you've unlocked, and they all have unique stat bonuses and weights that affect how they handle. On top of that, a Perks system allows you to apply various passive effects. It's nothing too complicated, and honestly doesn't feel all that necessary in a game like this, but we're sure some will appreciate the slight extra depth.
If you don't fancy any of the pre-built vehicles, you can make your own with a seriously robust build mode. In the Garage, you can choose an axel from which to build, and after that, the sky's the limit. There are hundreds of LEGO bricks and pieces to choose from, and you lay them down wherever you want, one at a time. You can change the colours of each piece and apply special effects, then equip it and drive it all you want. If you like, you can also build those vehicles you've unlocked with step-by-step instructions, again all using real-world LEGO pieces. The camera control in this mode can make building a little fiddly, but it's still a very impressive toolkit overall.
The only real downside is that you currently can't share your creations online, which seems like a massive missed opportunity. It means that those who aren't inclined to build new cars and boats will instead need to rely on unlocks or head to Unkie's Emporium, the in-game store where you can spend your hard-earned cash.
Rewarded for winning races, discovering new events, and beating challenges, Brickbux is the main currency in LEGO 2K Drive, and it's used in Unkie's Emporium to purchase new vehicles, drivers, and even LEGO pieces for the build mode. This seems fine at first, but the rate at which you earn Brickbux is fairly slow — especially online, where a first place result nets you a whopping 5 Brickbux. New build pieces typically cost 4,000 each, while characters are usually 6,000, and cars are mostly 10,000. After playing for 15 hours or so, we've accrued about 25,000 Brickbux.
Obviously, this slow delivery of currency is pushing you towards microtransactions. You can buy bulk amounts of Coins, which can then be converted into Brickbux. 500 of them, which costs £4.49, transfers to 10,000 Brickbux. So, about a fiver for an average in-game vehicle, if you don't want to grind Story mode races. You do get Coins as part of the premium Drive Pass seasons, but access to these obviously costs real-world money too. It all feels quite icky, especially in a game geared predominantly towards children. If the balance is tweaked to let you earn more Brickbux through regular play, that would go some way to fixing this issue, but right now the whole thing's a bit much.
It's a shame, because as mentioned, the core game has a lot to offer. LEGO fans will love the creation mode, while there's plenty to enjoy about the racing itself as well as the open world design, simple as it is. If you can look past the microtransaction stuff and just focus on the fun, you'll have a blast — but the slow payout of currency (and the fact the game costs up to £60/$70 to begin with) makes the in-game store hard to ignore.
Whether you're a fan of LEGO, arcade racing, or both, this game comes highly recommended from us, with the unfortunate caveat that it also features pretty aggressive monetisation. Tactile open worlds have a decent amount to discover, the Story mode strikes the perfect tone, and the driving itself is great fun. On top of all that, an impressive build mode lets you make your own crazy cars, though it's a shame you can't share them with your pals. Unfortunately, the microtransactions are hard to ignore, and they drag down what is otherwise a creative and engaging racer.
That's disappointing. Didn't think a full priced LEGO game would be full of microtransactions. I guess kudos for them not hiding them during the review period at least.
7/10 feels very generous for a game that's so predatory about pushing microtransactions on kids.
Really sad to hear how bad the microtransactions are in a kid-focused title. 2K and Lego deserve to get a lot of ***** for this. I, for one, won't be purchasing this for my daughter like I had planned to.
5 Bucks for a win when you need 10k for a car?? That's friggin' absurd.
I hate when solid/good games do this. They all fight for your time. Games don't want you to be a gamer. They don't want you to play videogames. They want you to play videogame. Theirs. And only theirs.
But paradoxically, they try and get you to stick around and drop money by aggravating you. By making it SOOO hard to earn things naturally that you just throw your hands up in frustration and submit to poorly priced items.
What they don't seem to get is people recognize that predation pretty damn quickly/easily. People would probably be WAY more likely to drop a little cash here or there on an item in a game they're truly really into. But they won't REACH that point if they don't feel a good, solid connection to it, because they've been driven away by the predatory practice too quick.
Say what you will about Fortnite, but they have never been beat when it comes to how they handle their purchasable items imo. I bought a single Battle Pass way back when the first one launched and I've been given enough currency ever since to buy the next BP AND have leftovers. It kept me hooked. In 5+ years, I've only ever bought an item outright with cash maybe 3 times. MAYBE. And only ever bought new Vbucks 1-2 times. And I don't feel bad. At all. Never have. Those purchases were WORTH it, because I knew, at the time, I was really really into the game.
Something like this? How do you even get into collecting stuff and having fun if you're so quickly low on funds and frustrated by being able to unlock things you want? The MOMENT you have to consider grabbing your wallet, that's when games lose fans. They may gain whales, but they lose fans. And if engagement and purchases drives long term success and growth, aren't the fans the ones you need to attract in the first place??
If I were a game company, I'd much rather have ten FANS dropping $5 a piece on something they like and being happy about it than have one fan who drops $50 without consideration, and then nine who stopped playing out of frustration. Because remember, if one of those ten fans is a whale, they'll still end up dropping $50. So you really ended up making $95 (or much more) instead of $50.
Absolutely disgusting. The Lego group have apparently shown their true colours here, and should be ashamed of themselves. It's a full-priced kids game, with multiple DLC "seasons", and aggressive micro-transactions! It's seriously impacted my view of Lego as a company.
I feel we have reached that point now that any game with aggressive MT's such as this one should automatically be awarded a max score of 3/10 or something, and rated as 'Poor'. Hopefully then that would start turning people away, certainly those who would blindly buy this just by looking at the review score and not the review.
Get them used to paying out while they’re young. Then when they’re adults, they won’t even question it.
I'm in agreement with everyone. Putting g a 7/10 is disgusting. It should be marked at 3 or below. I dont care how could the game plays, if im being pushed to buy the best stuff in the game and paying full retail price for the game, its just a sick joke for kids across the world and parents.
I won't be buying this for my kids, lego is a kids toy, not a way to make money on top of a full priced retail game.
Then again this is 2K all there games are this way now, this is on Lego for partnering with the King of micro transactions. I really hope this game doesn't make it.
Thanks for this review. Whilst the game sounds fun, I'll definitely not go anywhere near a full title with aggressive mtx on principle and I hope its a disaster as a result. Publishers should be taught a lesson, but I don't expect they will!
What a shame, I was hopeful for this one.
I'll get this at some point because I love kart games. However they won't get a single penny from me in microtransactions. Shameful behaviour in a game so aimed at kids.
Sounds like a pass sadly. I'm generally ok on MTX providing they aren't forced on you but here it sounds like they are.
I will definitely get it once it's $20 or under 👍 it's still pretty gross adding so much monetization to a clear kids game, they really aren't able to feel any shame.
Another game with good promise thrown into the gutter due to it being expected you play it as an occupation. And they have the gall to sell this for full price? Disgusting, but not surprising. What a shame.
@Bez87 2K is notorious for putting F2P monetization in full price games. It's ridiculous and scummy, especially when you consider that 2K was the first company to insist on raising the price of games this gen.
Well I definitely won't be buying this now and waiting for gamepass. What a shame it has terrible microtransactions, it's bad enough with hot wheels etc where buying is forced down your throat, and my young 5 year old wants everything he doesn't have, which would cost me a fortune.
Shame, I'll give it a miss for now.
After reading this review I was surprised by the 7/10 score. I guess my moral compass works differently than this site because there's no way I'd give this more than a 4/10 due to all the MTX nonsense. Such a shame really. Another game ruined by pure greed.
@Juanalf Same policy here for me, with all LEGO games.
They usually drop FAST to $30 New or cheaper within a year or two.
Easy pass. Publishers begging for more money whilst I’m playing a game is painful, tedious, and downright rude. I would never let my daughter play a game whose raison d’être is to continuously demand more money
I find this practice sickening, and it completely ruins the flow of a game. I wouldn’t play it for free
Disappointed that Lego have licensed their brand to this
@IslandLogic its why I've given up playing NBA 2K games, the only time I buy it. Is at launch to show off the graphics and then realise, its more of a grind than a Japanese rpg, just to upgrade your player, without paying to the point of you really do have to pay to have anything in those games.
I'd go as far to say that they are now the worst game company, even over shadowing how bad EA used to be
Sounds like a ps+ game in a year…
Hi All, - As far as Microtransactions are concerned, I feel Game Releases should have a Clear Marking on the Game Case as per the advised Age Rating. (something like - we will attempt to fleece you, or Hope you have Deep Pockets if you want to progress or Cough Up, or others will leave you behind -
A 1/10 for a game that is €70 and has the balls to have microtransactions and whats even worse it's tailored towards kids. But it's the same thing with fighters the DLC is known before the game is even released. The shocking part is that people applaud it.
Its dispicable that fully priced games even have microtransactions at all.
This is a certified 2K moment.
I don't care how good a game is, microtransactions make them a no from me. My daughter loves NBA and enjoyed the 2K games until you got pushed out with more money NOW requirements and hasn't played since 21.
I'm sure there are fools out there that spend all the money on day 1 to be the best there can be-whoop, but we don't.
Yes you can grind but it's beyond free game on android difficult to get there.
Hard pass, as per, for 2K game.
Is it 60fps? I saw other reviews saying 30fps. Mostly on reddit. Maybe ps4 version they ment
We all knew it would be more than a full price game (one edition is £109!!)
And we also knew it would push in game purchases.
Thankfully, some of us stuck to our guns and didn't buy it. I watched a few YouTube videos, thought it looked pretty fun, and then walked away.
This will clearly go free at some point or £9.99 on disk at Smyths like all the other Lego games, but even then, with the threat of microtransactions, I'll probably still avoid it.
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