HomeReviewsGame ReviewsLEGO 2K Drive Review: Mario Kart with bricks, top in multiplayer

LEGO 2K Drive Review: Mario Kart with bricks, top in multiplayer

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Our verdict on LEGO 2K drive, an arcade racing game with some limitations, but at the same time fun and full of possibilities.

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During the preview we had gone so far as to define LEGO 2K Drive as sort of a cross between Forza Horizon and Mario Kart, a certainly ambitious project, which seemed to us to have what it takes to not disappoint expectations (here our test of LEGO 2K Drive). Today, after having roamed the streets of Mattonia far and wide, we can finally tell you about the strengths and weaknesses of the latest Visual Concepts effort, which has certainly proved to be able to satisfy fans of the most famous bricks ever.

The Astro Cup Grand Prix

At first glance, LEGO 2K Drive might seem like yet another Mario Kart emulator, but that’s not the case. The formula of the title developed by Visual Concepts is quite similar to that of the Forza Horizon series (here the review of Forza Horizon 5) or any other open-world racing game released recently. The highlight of the single player experience is the “story” mode, which immerses us in the races in the role of one chosen from the predefined characters. In fact, the selection of one’s alter ego serves purely aesthetic purposes. The lack of a dedicated editor, for this reason, has left us perplexed, especially since we see more and more of them in such products.

In any case, you are immediately catapulted into action through a tutorial that guides the player through all the main activities offered by the world, which – it should be clarified immediately – consists of different macro areas (accessible by fast travel). The structure of the experience, on the other hand, is similar to that of an open world, with a sequence of primary events and many secondary tasks that are activated by talking to the NPCs present around the map. On the narrative front, the main quest turned out to be rather trivial, and it is a mere pretext to push us to continue: you have to win all the key competitions and defeat the rival on duty from time to time, in order to qualify for the Astro Cup Grand Prix and try to take home the trophy.

In short, the story is not exactly memorable but on the other hand the writing of the dialogues and the characterization of the characters are of a very good level, because in LEGO 2K Drive we find all the irony that has always distinguished the titles linked to the brand. Despite being a product aimed at a very young audience, the cutscenes manage to make even the most mature players smile.

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At the beginning we will only have the first of the three macro areas available, but after a few runs the other areas will also be unlocked, thanks to a progression that, in the very first hours, seems to put the turbo. The side tasks with which you can entertain yourself between one race and another are instead sufficiently varied and of good quality: they range from the classic time trials, to the collection of collectibles, passing through fun tower defense style missions and many other small quests that can be activated by talking to the friendly locals.

We go down the track

Where the game closely resembles Mario Kart is when you take to the track. The arsenal of power-ups owes a lot to him, but LEGO 2K Drive’s driving system is slightly more complex than one might expect. The vehicles are categorized according to their weight and each has a whimsical and imaginative design, as well as specific features: there are the smaller and snappier ones, the faster and less manoeuvrable ones, the slower and more resistant ones.

The differences at the wheel are felt all right, but there are some traits of the driving system that all vehicles have in common, such as the sense of heaviness and the tendency to understeer. Not surprisingly, in addition to the inevitable key that starts the drift, there is a specific command to make the so-called “tight bend”. At first the two functions seem to overlap, but as the minutes go by you realize that the tight corner is essential if you don’t want to end up off the track, precisely because the racing cars all tend (some more, some less) to understeer. On the other hand, the drift – which usually plays a fundamental role in other exponents of the genre – seems to have less importance, since it does not recharge the turbo bar, nor does it confer particular benefits, other than maintaining a certain speed when cornering. The player will have to choose not his own vehicle, but your own set of means: one for paved surfaces, one for dirt roads and even one for bodies of water. These three racing cars alternate automatically as the surface on which you speed varies, so for example if you enter a stream your car transforms, and then converts back into a four-wheeled vehicle as soon as you return to dry land Transformers style.

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Browsing through the options, we noticed that there is the possibility of opting for the manual activation of the trim change, for those who want to complicate their lives. The design of the circuits is well made, thanks also to the excellent characterization of the environments, but maybe the power up effects are a bit too intrusive and often, during the races, the situation on the screen becomes quite confusing. The continuous transformation of the vehicles as the surface changes also contributes to this, a factor that also modifies their handling, with the result of having to juggle between three different driving styles in the space of a single lap.

Artificial intelligence has satisfied us, but with some reservations. The behavior of the opponents on the track is aggressive and the way they use the power ups is credible. That said, we got the impression that racing difficulty is handled dynamically. In other words, for most of the competition you need a certain effort to keep up with your opponents, until on the last lap – magically – you always manage to come back and finish in first position, as if there were some sort of elastic effect calculated to give to the user at first the sensation of a demanding challenge, then giving him the joy of victory in the finale, as further proof of a product designed to entertain young and old.

Progression and multiplayer

For a full two-thirds of the adventure, LEGO 2K Drive’s “story” mode works and works well! Net of the problems already highlighted, the races are fun, the maps are large and full of optional activities that are also pleasant to carry out as long as they remain, precisely, optional. Like other open world titles, unfortunately, at some point the game forces you to play a number of secondary activities in order to proceed with the main missions. This happens because in order to continue with the primary competitions a certain rank is required, which however we believe has been calibrated in a questionable way.

In our game we have never failed to alternate main and secondary tasks, yet we have reached two thirds of the adventure clearly below the level required of us to participate in its final stages. The result? We were forced to grind for a few hours. As if that weren’t enough, the side activities are too unprofitable in terms of experience and soon we find ourselves repeating the already completed key missions to speed up progress until boredom. We are therefore faced with a two-faced single player mode: fun and satisfying for most of its duration, but then suddenly plagued in the final by balancing problems. In any case, the end credits can be reached in about ten hours (including the time necessary for grinding), while if you want to complete the adventure 100%, it probably takes at least three times as long, if not more.

Luckily, LEGO 2K Drive doesn’t live on single player alone, quite the contrary! The package offers an interesting multiplayer sector. On the one hand we have the classic lobbies that allow us to challenge other pilots online (complete with cross-play) in frantic races in the name of mutual bankruptcies and improprieties.

On the other hand there is an interesting split screen co-op which allows you to enjoy the entire story with a friend, thus also allowing free exploration of the world in company. A really spot-on gimmick, which makes the game even more family-friendly, but we wonder why this possibility hasn’t been extended to the online dimension as well.

The only limit is your imagination

One of the most interesting aspects of the LEGO and 2K production is the vehicle editor. We were faced with a customization with boundless potential, which gives free rein to the player’s imagination and allows him to freely build his own vehicle and then use it on the track.

First there is the possibility of change the default vehicles to your liking, but those who have something different in mind can build their own racing car from scratch, thanks to an impressive variety of types of bricks, stickers and various accessories. The idea of ​​building the vehicle of dreams leveraging the entire LEGO inventory it is the real extra weapon of the experience: from this point of view, Visual Concepts has made great use of the license of the Danish bricks.

The only flaw, if you want to be really picky, is that the editor is not exactly intuitive in terms of commands and it takes a little practice before being able to quickly place the pieces exactly where you want, but this does not impoverish that which is a precious and very successful feature, which alone is able to involve the user for hours. From a technical point of view LEGO 2K Drive is a little jewel. The game world is colorful and artistically delightful: each macro-area reproduces a different biome and the morphology of the maps reveals considerable care.

Mountains, lakes, rivers, wide valleys and small towns alternate seamlessly and all this flows without the framerate showing the slightest sign of slowing down, not even in the most congested situations during the races (at least for the PS5 version we have header). We were also amazed by the interaction with the environment: Almost every object in the scenario is destructible and it’s especially enjoyable to see colored bricks fly away from all sides with each impact!

The excellent work done in terms of localization also deserves a mention, since the dialogues and the names of the characters are full of puns and being able to transpose everything into our language without affecting the original humor it must not have been easy. The excellent Italian dubbing is the icing on the cake.

LEGO 2K Drive
LEGO 2K DrivePlayStation 5 Analyzed VersionImpossible to lie: we had a lot of fun playing LEGO 2K Drive. It is an interesting experiment, with a lot of potential, but also with some limitations. The light-hearted tone and the not exactly prohibitive level of challenge make it a title suitable for all ages and ideal for playing in company (also given the support for local multiplayer). The vehicle editor is the real extra gear of an imperfect and at times chaotic production, but full of style, which manages to place itself more than decently in a slice of the market where competition is ruthless.

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