LEGO 2K Drive: Hands-on first impressions

Here is Blocks magazine’s first reaction to LEGO 2K Drive, based on a few hours sitting down with the game, taking on races, exploring the open world and building a car…

Blocks recently had the pleasure of visiting 2K’s London offices to spend a few hours playing the upcoming LEGO 2K Drive on a fancy, high-end PC. Over the years, fans have gotten very, very used to TT Games delivering a specific type of LEGO game, in which players traverse through an increasingly open world as a minifigure, playing through levels based on familiar stories.

What developer Visual Concepts has delivered with this game is a title that has all of the production value and beauty that you’d expect from those other LEGO games, but with an entirely new type of gameplay. The open world is still there, but there’s also fast-paced racing, genuine LEGO building and the biggest change of all – you spend the entire game behind the wheel.

It should be noted that this isn’t a full review of the game, this is very much just early impressions. The full review will be coming in an upcoming edition of Blocks, the monthly LEGO magazine. You’ll also be able to read more about the game and its development, so be sure to take out a subscription ready for that issue.

LEGO Race 2K is set in Bricklandia, where everyone is obsessed with racing. The first biome that you spend time in is Turbo Acres, a small, colourful land where you get to grips with the controls. Your mentor, Clutch Racington, teaches you how to drift, with other tutorials showing you how to get the hang of other essential skills like quick turning. These are fun tutorials delivered in a wacky LEGO way though – to learn those turns you’ll be smashing into giant mushrooms to help a farmer.

Once you have completed a few tutorials and earned enough in-game points, you can take on the first race in a McLaren.  This aspect if the game is delivered brilliantly and is very reminiscent of Mario Kart; there’s a genuine challenge to the race, but it’s absolutely ridiculous, over the top and fun of silly fun. Your goal is to win a race around the course, but as you do so you can hit ramps, take short cuts and earn power ups.

What’s really nice about this game is that it is incredibly accessible (as a LEGO game should be), but it also offers depth of play. Strangely, a fair comparison seems to be Grand Theft Auto; if you don’t play video games very much, you can drive around the open world and generally get away with smashing through obstacles and over barriers – but more experienced gamers can opt to actually stick to the roads and get it ‘right’.

The best example of this is that when you move from the road to rougher terrain, your vehicle will automatically change to an off-roader – then when you hit the water, it switches into a boat. This avoids all of the frustration when you screw up and also makes it feel like an authentically LEGO world – after all, there are no rules when it comes to the brick.

After learning the ropes and winning the opening race, you can head to one of the three Grand Brick Arenas – Big Butte. This next land feels like it shares creative inspiration with the classic Disney Pixar movie Cars. As you explore Big Butte, you find little side missions to engage with (like finding a lost albino scorpion), more races to win and curious little roads to travel down.

Exploring this land is great fun, especially for LEGO fans – the environment is rendered in a natural but stylised way, while the buildings and vehicles are all brick-built. You’ll see original LEGO vehicles drive past as well as some that are familiar from sets. What’s really fun is that some inspired by classic four-wide 1980s LEGO cars and there’s even one that’s just a bunch of multi-coloured bricks, as if a child built it from a basic bucket.

There are two more areas to explore that were not available during the preview – Prospecto Valley and Hauntsborough, which promise to be distinct from Big Butte. Races from those lands were available to try out and Hauntsborough’s tracks were really fresh, although the Prospecto Valley ones didn’t feel all that different, location-wise, to Big Butte.

During the racing and open world aspects, all of the typical LEGO destruction is present, to the point that smashing brick-built items (including other cars on the road) replenishes your vehicle’s health. Once you get into Unkie Monkey’s Garage though, you can build your own LEGO car from scratch.

While old-school LEGO fans might have unpleasant memories of trying to build digitally with a game controller, it’s incredibly intuitive in LEGO 2K Drive. There has been no better experience of building in a game with LEGO elements, once you have fiddled around for a few minutes and got the hang of it, you’ll be away. Plenty of interesting car elements and pieces that are clearly just for embellishment have been included, so it really does feel like an extension of physical LEGO building.

Get ready for the full review of LEGO 2K Drive in an upcoming issue of Blocks, the monthly LEGO magazine – but it’s safe to say from this preview that it offers a polished, expansive, game that really does something new for a LEGO video game. It is easy to drop into the game and start playing, the LEGO bricks have been genuinely infused into it and playing against a friend split screen should be an absolute riot.

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