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(Review) LEGO City Undercover

March 29, 2013


When LEGO City Undercover was first revealed at E3 2011 (under the name ‘LEGO City Stories’), the game immediately raised a few eyebrows. This was largely because of the nature in which Nintendo did announce the game. All they showed were a couple of screenshots, which lead many people to believe the title was just another ‘Grand Theft Auto’ clone. This tag has stuck with LEGO City Undercover ever since. However, the final product is anything but the Grand Theft Auto clone many refer to the game as.

Your adventure with LEGO City Undercover begins with the protagonist ‘Chase McCain’ arriving into the appropriately named ‘LEGO City’ on boat. From here it becomes clear that the game is full of  humor, with comical references to the film ‘Titanic’ within the first minute. On top this, the hero Chase McCain makes several one-liners which would perhaps humor the younger audiences. After a brief and bumpy ride, Chase hops off the boat, to be greeted by the mayor of LEGO City. She is the one who informs you about why you’ve been sent here.

After leaving LEGO City for quite some time, Chase McCain, the police detective, has been called back to help catch the ‘super-evil’ 1362051070_Lego-City-Undercover-2villain Rex Fury. Rex Fury escaped from prison and it’s your job to catch him. However your way to glory is quickly halted by the Head Policeman of LEGO City. You see, Chase McCain was the police officer who originally put Rex Fury in jail. However, the Head Policeman took credit for Chase McCain’s work, and will do anything to prevent you being the person who catches Rex for a second time. This means you have to go undercover to get a role in the investigation.

Alongside tackling all of his police work, Chase McCain is also desperate to win back the love of his life Natalia, who is in the Witness Protection Program to stop Rex Fury kidnapping her, and from what you hear early on, this situation is Chase McCain’s fault. This side-quest leaves you desperate to find out what happened to Natalia, alongside how Chase McCain originally captured Rex Fury. This will all be revealed in the 3DS title ‘LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins‘, which is a prologue to the Wii U title.

Natalia is just one of the many quirky characters you’ll find in Lego City, many of whom will become favorites for many younger players. While the majority of characters are likable but one of my personal criticisms with Lego City: Undercover is that I don’t like Chase McCain. There’s something about the way he talks or how he acts, it just annoys me. Perhaps this is down to the limited sound clips put into the game for common actions. For instance, every time you take a vehicle from a civilian, Chase McCain just says, ‘Sorry, police business’. He’s too cocky and arrogant to be likable  This is something which won’t annoy younger players, but older ones will find he gets on your nerves. I suppose he does however make the story more entertaining with his sarcastic comments, so you can’t begrudge him too much.

While the story is entertaining (despite being very predictable), it’s the missions which stand out in making LEGO City: Undercover one of the Wii U’s finest titles to date. They never seem repetitive, because they use two different styles of play used in them, which give just the right mix to make the game feel fresh all the time. Firstly, there are the types of missions which you would expect to find in any LEGO game. It’s the 3D platformer puzzle kind of genre, which can be a nice step away from the second type of mission. These type are the missions you would find on you typical sand-box game. For instance, the first mission involves chasing criminals and arresting them. Later on in the game, you have to drive a truck from A to B without destroying it. These are less fun, but make the game stand out from other LEGO titles. But it’s when you put these two mission styles together that make it LEGO City: Undercover so different from the normal GTA sand-box games. It’s refreshing to see TT Fusion give the genre a twist.

Away from the story, there are many other things to do in LEGO City. Most of the revolve around collecting, but you can have fun just by exploring. The map is smaller then it first seems, as there’s a big area in the middle you are unable to access, but there is still plenty to do. You can climb up buildings and drive around collecting all of the vehicles and finding different costumes for Chase McCain to wear. You can collect Super Brick to use to build stunt jumps and bridges you can use to access new locations. But the most enjoyable part of the whole game is finding the various film references scattered across LEGO City.

My favorite film reference occurs lego4embed_1694060awhen you enter the prison (called Alcatraz  to talk to an inmate called ‘Blue’. This is clearly a reference to ‘Red’ from ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, and it’s not the only reference from the film in the game. Hundreds of hints are given out to different films right from the off, and one of the best things about the game is finding them. It’s not just film references which are rich within Lego City as well. The game has many items and pieces of scenery used in series like The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario games. The most famous one is when your in the main city and there are Nintendo balloons high up in the air. Be sure to look out for these film and Nintendo references while playing LEGO City: Undercover, and comment with ones you find.

The game isn’t without it’s flaws though, with the main issue being how you get from place to place. While there is a wide variety of vehicles, around half of them are completely useless as they’re so impossibly hard to drive. You just have to tap to the left or right and you crash into the sidewalk. Luckily there is no such issue with the vehicles used for missions, like the Police car. On top of the bad steering, any motorbike is incapable of doing stunts like wheelies, and they go so slowly you’re often unable to execute simple tasks like driving up hills.

I’m not going to lie and say LEGO City: Undercover is going to appeal to everyone. If you just want a sand-box game with maps the size of the blockbuster PlayStation games then look away. It’s nothing like GTA really. If you want something to compare the game with, I’d say look at Sleeping Dogs. If you don’t like LEGO games it’s probably not for you. Some may be annoyed by the childish humor, but don’t just look away and think it’s a kids game. You’ll either love it or hate it. Anyway, if you don’t like Monster Hunter, this about the only excuse you have right now to dust off your Wii U.


+ Long story line will keep you playing for hours
+ Film and Nintendo references are common and entertaining
+ Hundreds of vehicles and costumes to collect…
– But driving the vehicles can be an issue
– Average map size and annoying jokes may put older gamers off

Overall – 8/10


From → Reviews, Wii U

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