Always copied, never equalled, Mario Kart continues to be imitated, and in recent months some titles have even tried their luck. Of course we think of Chocobo GP from Square Enix, Smurfs Kart from Microids or even Gigantosaurus Dino Kart from Bandai Namco Entertainment, but none have managed to overshadow Nintendo’s kart racing. But the competition is growing and in 2023 Mario Kart will face Disney Speedstorm, which will be able to count on the largest licenses of the Mickey company to seduce the general public, but also a newcomer supported by two brands with strong ambitions. : LEGO and 2K Games. That game is LEGO 2K Drive which unfortunately completely leaked last weekend, and everything described on the Reddit forums was true. A press event even took place 10 days ago, during which it was possible to test the game in preview. There was solo, multiplayer and a few laughs, enough to reassure kart game fans. We were among the guests and without further ado, we have our impression controller at your disposal.
The LEGO brand, a longtime partner of Warner Bros, has decided to commit some infidelity, probably to compete but also to renew desires. According to rumors that have been circulating for several months, the toy manufacturer has signed a major contract with the publisher 2K Games for many future sports games. The first, which was also leaked a few months ago (thanks to the merchandising), is a LEGO football game that would be developed by the English at Sumo Digital. But something we didn’t know until now is the arrival of a racing game heavily inspired by Mario Kart, but also other titles such as Forza Horizon or The Crew for the more open aspect. To do this, 2K Games turned to Visual Concepts, one of its best studios, already working on the NBA 2K and WWE 2K franchises. But the challenge hasn’t deterred the California company that has taken on the project, production of which is already nearing completion. Because yes, LEGO 2K Drive will be released on May 19 on PC, PS5, Xbox Series, PS4, Xbox One and even Nintendo Switch. The ambitions are great, so is the potential, as we know how LEGO is a very strong brand with a young audience. And we won’t surprise you if we tell you that this LEGO 2K Drive is mainly aimed at the youngest players, with great accessibility and as few obstacles as possible. We explain.
LEGO 2K Drive is designed to immerse the player in a permanently connected world, where it is possible to switch from one mode to another, but also to interact with other players around the world, making the game a PvP approach quite pronounced. Thus, the player finds himself in the – more or less – open world of Bricklandia, consisting of several biomes and accessible in the course of the adventure through a solo mode that allows you to unlock many things. If the adventure begins in the downtown “City” with very urban environments, we will soon discover other decorations and stylized atmosphere, such as that of Big Butte County, which will propel us between the rocky Grand Canyon of the Arizona. For people who prefer greenery with lush nature, we can hike around Prospecto Valley, while those who prefer the humid atmosphere of New Orleans can discover a biome full of swamps. It’s clear that 2K Games didn’t want to reveal everything to us at this stage of communication, and we imagine there will be other trailers in due course to shed light on the other environments. In addition, we can tell you that LEGO 2K Drive will adopt familiar themes from the LEGO universe, namely City, Creator, Speed Champions and more. Something to please fans of these little Danish stones.
Since the game is divided into different biomes (which unfortunately cannot be accessed seamlessly), the developers have naturally thought of fast travel, a story in which we can move from one universe to another with the snap of our fingers. All you have to do is go to a special garage to have the choice of being teleported elsewhere. But it is clear that LEGO 2K Drive is structured in such a way that the player spends as much time as possible in the various biomes that are unlocked over the course of the adventure. Since the world is open and populated by humans, you can stop at any time, type the discussion and launch challenges and other championships to prove your piloting skills and let the guns speak. Positioning itself as an alternative to Mario Kart, LEGO 2K Drive naturally uses many mechanics from Nintendo’s kart game, starting with the Startup which we will find along the way and which will allow you to take advantage of bonuses to try to finish first in the race. Acceleration boost, missiles, protective shield, bombs and many other items, we find the usual weapons. However, there’s a new bonus, a teleporter of sorts, that lets you get among the front runners via a screen of light like a Star Wars thruster if you ever get too far behind. A kind of Bill Ball but more effective. In terms of driving, it is also quite close to a Mario Kart, with arcade sensations very present, and that’s normal, the game is mainly aimed at children. It is also possible to jump, skid (to also get a speed boost), hover, knowing that the differences are also made by the modification of your vehicle.
But LEGO 2K Drive doesn’t just borrow from Mario Kart, it also took inspiration from Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed with the ability to switch cars depending on the surface crossed. Do you drive on asphalt? So you drive the F1 version of your vehicle, while if you ever go off-road, you immediately switch to an off-road machine adapted to the terrain. On the other hand, when crossing water points, your vehicle also turns into a boat or off-shore. Everything happens automatically and instantly, which makes the races even more varied and dynamic, knowing that the driving also differs depending on the surface, increasing the challenge. These real-time transformations naturally take place during the races, but also in the different biomes, which makes it possible to fully understand and therefore master the different driving styles. The semi-open world of LEGO 2K Drive promises plenty of challenges and other activities anyway, but despite the 3 hours of hands-on offered by 2K Games, it was difficult to get a full overview of the content.
On the other hand, there is one point where we have stuck a lot, it is the customization mode of the vehicles. Because yes, it will be possible to shape your car completely piece by piece, as if you were standing in front of a big box full of LEGO pieces with your imagination to create your ideal machine. The tool in the garage couldn’t be more complete, with over 1,000 parts announced at launch, promising hours to design its vehicles. You will have to be patient, because the possibilities are total, with all the LEGO pieces available, the choice of corridors, the ornaments to add, while having the option to rotate each piece in the direction you want. . It is very complete, but also complex to learn, and it is probably already one of the shortcomings of the game: it is clearly not child friendly, because we are lost for so many possibilities. There are no examples to guide us, not even manufacturing aids, only his imagination and his great patience. And it becomes one of the functions should be improved by May next year as otherwise it is quite promising.
With LEGO 2K Drive, the Danish manufacturer of small bricks takes the next step in the field of video games, which aims to be more entertained and become an essential player with a young audience. By taking the Mario Kart approach, coupled with semi-open biomes, LEGO and 2K Games aim to attract as many players as possible, especially as we find all the good ingredients of Nintendo’s kart racing, while laying its personal leg on it. Everything has been thought of so that the game is as inviting and accessible as possible, with as few restrictions and obstacles in the game as possible (you can rush anywhere in the landscape, almost all of them are destructible). The races are spirited, the fun very present from the first minutes, without forgetting this building approach so dear to the LEGO brand. The tool is also very complete, maybe a little less child friendly than expected, but chances are you will spend hours building your own vehicle as the possibilities are numerous. Anyway, we won’t have to wait long before we can enjoy it, because this LEGO 2K Drive is already scheduled for May 19.