Fun But Flawed Open-World Racer

Fun But Flawed Open-World Racer

I was on board with 2K Lego player by the time I heard we were getting an open-world Lego racing game, with the ability to build your own vehicles. And after playing almost 12 hours so far, I’m still having a lot of fun with the game. But it’s impossible to ignore the nagging feeling that he really wants me to spend money on his in-game store .

Announced in March, Lego 2K Drive is the first game resulting from an agreement between 2K and Lego back in 2022. The two companies apparently decided to glue their names together and add “drive” to the end to create what might be the most boring video game title of 2023. Luckily, the video game itself is much, much more fun than its lackluster title, which feels less like a wacky open-world racer filled with cool bonuses and more like a bad sports game featuring a sport I’ve never heard of but is popular nonetheless.

Bland name, but fun Lego racing

Get past the bland name and Lego 2K Drive comes out of the gate firing on all cylinders with thrilling CG cutscenes and a fairly short but fun tutorial. It makes a good first impression. And the moment the game gave me full control, I was impressed with what I saw. Lego 2K Drive takes place in a brick-built world filled with side missions, mini-games, collectibles and so on, so many Lego vehicles. It is very colorful and beautiful. And massive! 2K Drive’s open world is divided into a few different biomes, each with their own theme, characters, missions, and vehicles. Playing this game is like playing in the basement of the rich kid you knew in elementary school who owned all the Lego sets. Lucky bastard. But now I, Zack, have all the cool bricks and sets to play with!

The basic setup behind the main story mode is that an evil racer hates you – for reasons the game doesn’t jokingly state – and you have to earn the big trophy to prove you’re the best driver. To stand a chance of that big win, you’ll need to earn a bunch of flags by beating your rivals, leveling up to unlock new races, rank up, and eventually advance to the big final tournament. There’s not much to the actual story, but the writing is similar to recent Lego movies, sometimes making me smile and rarely boring. And I think kids will enjoy the wackiest moments.

Screenshot: 2K Games / Lego / Kotaku

But to win the big trophy and prove yourself to your evil rival, you’ll have to do more than drive Lego-built cars on different tracks, as piloting boats and mastering off-road vehicles are also on your agenda. And like cars, all are built of bricks. However, you are not actively choosing between each type of vehicle. Instead, when you race, the game automatically switches between your car, boat, or off-road ride of your choice. This streamlines what could have been a boring part of 2K Drive, and also means you can explore the entire Lego-filled world of Bricklandia at your leisure.

Driving really fast and hitting a river? Keep driving and you’ll turn into a boat! Take a sharp turn on a paved road and over dunes? Don’t worry, the game will swap your car for a jeep in no time. It takes the open-world driving of Forza Horizon and makes it even more arcade and exciting because you can literally go anywhere at any time.

All the bricks and cool stuff in the world can’t save a racing game with bad driving physics or poor controls, and thankfully Lego 2K Drive avoids those pitfalls and is a joy to play. Once I mastered the drift and jump controls, I was masterfully dipping, swinging, and soaring around the world like a Lego pro. And on Xbox Series X, performance was smooth as butter, making it easy to enjoy all the high-speed action.

2K Lego player


“Almost as fun as real Lego bricks, but at a fraction of the price”


Open world racing game


Colorful worlds to explore, in-depth Lego building options, vehicle transformation, good performance


In-game store, expensive microtransactions, lack of mission variety


Approximately 12 hours of story mode and online multiplayer


PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S (played), Switch, PC

Lego 2K Drive’s disappointing microtransactions

The moment the bricks start to fall from this creation is when you start digging into the menus, where you’ll come across a full store with a season pass. While the game features an amazing, in-depth, and easy-to-use vehicle builder, allowing you to create almost anything you can imagine, it also has some disappointing microtransactions.

Technically, you can just drive, have fun, unlock cars, build your own creations, and never really interact with the in-game store. But, if you don’t want (or can’t) build something like an ambulance or a giant hamburger car, the store has official Lego builds that you can buy and use in the game. However, all of these cars cost $10,000 Lego Bux. And after playing for 12 hours, I only reached around $8,000.

This is the part where 2K Games, while twirling its mustache, would probably say: don’t worry, you can buy Bux if you want. That’s true, of course, but it’s so out of place in this otherwise colorful game of creativity and madness.

And the way the economy is balanced, it really does feel like you’ll have to shell out the cash if you want to buy more than one of these premade cars without grinding for hours. It’s also unfortunate that the in-game store has packs of Lego pieces for sale. These are cheaper than cars (luckily) and the game builder offers lots of free coins (and you earn more by completing missions), but the fact that some bricks and items are locked behind a paywall, even the one you can bypass via grinding is frustrating.

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

Screenshot: 2K Games / Lego / Kotaku

The other big part of Lego 2K Drive is the multiplayer, which I barely pushed as there weren’t many other players online while I was playing the game before it was released. Online racing is similar to single-player racing, but with the added drawback that your opponents may have spent hours figuring out how to build the ideal, perfect racing car. Or a giant cock. Or maybe they just spent real money and bought a car using Bux. Until the game is released in the wild, it’ll be hard to say how multiplayer will shake out, but I have a few concerns.

It’s such a shame that such an enjoyable and fun open-world sandbox is tied to things like a season pass, premium currencies, and expensive in-game purchases. Maybe 2K will tweak some levers to make it easier earning and unlocking new cars – which would be nice – but until then the specter of greed will still be there, nagging me as I build, smash and race.


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