LEGO City Undercover is by far one of the best LEGO games that I’ve played to date. That’s a tall order especially when titles such as LEGO Harry Potter and LEGO Lord of the Rings are backed by massive movie franchises. LEGO City Undercover is the first LEGO title that’s not emulating a movie and is entirely fresh, and works darn well. Nintendo fans rejoice, as you now have a system exclusive that’s truly worth bragging about.
The story begins with your character known as Chase McCain who is essentially a cop that’s returning to town. There’s of course a new badass in town known as Rex Fury and your job is to investigate his recent escape and bring Rex to justice. If there is one thing that you’ll love with LEGO City it’s the character’s design. They are all so funny and resemble characters such as Axel Foley from Beverly Hills cop the movie. Even the bad guys resemble the mobsters from the Donnie Brasco. It’s truly humorous and I loved the characters introduced in the game. LEGO City undercover is a fun experience that’s not too serious and always keeps a healthy level of tongue-in-cheek humour.
As with other LEGO titles, the basic formula remains unchanged which in my opinion is critical. Get ready for a wealth of brick smashing and assembling, stud collecting and more. What’s different this time with LEGO City is you essentially have an entire city to explore, which remarkably looks like Grand Theft Auto 4, except vehicles, characters, parts of buildings are constructed with LEGO bricks. The game begins by sending you on a short mission say from point A to point B with an objective at hand. You don’t simply begin to wander around at will, you must take your time with a few story missions first before the city begins to open up. As with previous LEGO titles which introduced a hub world, such as Hogwarts for example where you would buy clothing, red bricks and assemble gold bricks and more you can expect the same in LEGO city, and it’s all housed within the central Police Station.
As with previous LEGO titles the city is covered with secrets and areas that are only accessible if you have certain characters, for example, you need the robber who can open areas that require a crow bar for example. You can expect there to be hundreds of secret red bricks and characters to find across the massive and expansive city.
The main story line or quests will consume around 10 or so hours for the novice gamer. However, the fun really begins once you open up free roam and have the ability to explore the entire city at your own leisure. You’ll be able to spend a wealth of time exploring and trying to get your hands on every single collectable, which is something I’ve been guilty of with every other LEGO title, so this will be no exception. There are over 20 different districts/areas to explore in LEGO city which are inspired by real cities such as San Francisco, New York City and the United states capital and more. And getting around the city can be done on foot, via automobile, boats, trains and even helicopters!
LEGO City does have some drawbacks, in particular are the loading times when you commence the game or when you enter or exit the police station, it takes a solid 30 seconds to load which by today’s game standards is totally unacceptable and I am not sure if it’s a hardware limitation or developer laziness, however its annoying and can be frustrating at times. The other drawback is the lack of multiplayer. How fun would it be to share an open world experience with a friend? Imagine having your friend image appear on your gamepad and vice versa as you video chat with each other and complete the game as a team. This could have been a ground-breaking bit of technology that could have been a first for the Wii U, yet it was something that was missed all together and instead your limited to a single player adventure only.
The Wii U Game Pad
One of the biggest changes with the Wii U version is of course the integration of the Gamepad into the experience. Unlike other titles, LEGO City doesn’t require you to spend 95% of your time staring at your game pad like Scribble naughts for example. LEGO City actually utilises the game pad extremely well. For the most part, the Wii U pad acts as a map of the city, allowing you to touch points of interest, zoom in and out and set your waypoints and objectives. Whenever there is an announcement say from head office regarding your next mission, you can touch the game pad to pick up on that transmission. It’s quite clever and not overpowering at all. You can even still carry on doing what you’re doing while the message/call is playing on the game pad.
Other handy features introduced in LEGO city include a canning mode that allows you to hold the Wii U pad up and you can seek out objects hidden around the city. It’s fun, but thankfully it’s used minimally throughout the game.
Graphics and Sound
LEGO City undercover is bright, colourful and gorgeous. The draw distance of the city is large and the game ran at a great speed and never suffered from slow down or frame rate issues. Building such an open and expansive city is always a challenge, yet the Wii U handles it flawlessly showing off its power that it has under the hood. In terms of sound, the game’s biggest strength is its voice acting and characters personality that’s a true hoot. You’ll be laughing out loud at the characters as you meet them and it’s certainly evident that Travellers’ Tales have put some serious time and effort into the characters design.
As a Wii U owner, you can’t help but smile as you enjoy for once a LEGO title that’s exclusive to your system. LEGO City Undercover is a true breath of fresh air that doesn’t follow the traditional movie based scripts of its predecessors. LEGO City’s world is truly large and expansive, and the way the game has been structured will see you explore all parts and towns in due course. Once you complete the game, you have even more to explore thank’s to the sheer size of LEGO City. There is a tremendous amount of value here, that’s backed by a huge city and an entertaining line up of characters that are funny and charming to boot. LEGO City is a must buy for Wii U owners and absolutely mandatory for anyone who even remotely enjoyed any previous LEGO titles in the past. Well done Travellers’ tales, you’ve done it again!