LEGO CITY UNDERCOVER REVIEW
Is it a crime to laugh at silly gag jokes? Is it a crime for an adult to play a game targeted for kids? Is it a crime for an adult to love that game? If it is a crime, then I am guilty. I am guilty as charged. Lock me up in Albatross Island and throw away the key because I don’t ever want to leave Lego City. Lego City Undercover is the perfect example that a game does not require blood and guts to be fun. A vast open world, brilliant writing and tons of content – what more can you ask for? If you have a Wii U and don’t have Lego city Undercover, then watch out, Chase McCain might have a warrant for your arrest.
Sound the Alarm! Rex Fury has escaped from Albatross prison. Commission a search and get me Chase McCain! The story behind Lego City Undercover continues the tropes of Cop Movies. You play as Chase McCain – a charismatic, humorous and dedicated cop. The dangerous convict Rex Fury has escaped from prisoner, and the only person capable of capturing him again is Chase McCain. Sound familiar? Well it should. The story in Lego City Undercover is a parody of many iconic cop and prisoner movies of popular culture. The funny things, is that the game acknowledges the many plot devices it rips off; in fact Lego City is quite proud of it. You will find yourself giggling at the Shaw Shank Redemption and Starsky and Hutch references. Even that awful Schwarzenegger impersonator will turn any frown upside down.
The supporting characters in Lego City Undercover make the assignment of finding Rex Fury more enjoyable, than if it were a collective cast of stereotypes. Tired of ultra-serious characters with many emotional issues? Hate listening of 5 minute monologues of monotonous? You will not find any of that in Leg City Undercover. Some of the characters in Lego are just whacked and nuts. Chan, the leader of the Chinese triad, suffers from anger management and possibly turrets syndrome. And then there is Frank Honey. The clumsy yet lovable sidekick is perhaps one of the most memorable video game characters in recent memory. Why is Honey riding the Horse weirdly? Why is that horse soaking up the sun with Honey? Oh Honey what will Chase be without you?
The writing and voice acting in Lego City is sublime. I was not expecting this level of quality, especially from a Lego game. Lego City is littered with Gag jokes. I am not lying when I say it is one joke after another. The beauty of Lego City’s wit is that it can be enjoyed by a wide range of audience. The little kids will laugh at the one liners. Older gamer will appreciate the parody’s of iconic movies. The voice work is equally impressive. I never got the impression that the actors were reading from a script. There is a lot of enthusiasm and energy from the voice work – the characters become their own. Present is a definite Lego charm of humour and charisma permeating throughout the game.
Lego City Undercover is an open-world game in the same fashion as Grand Theft Auto. Although the roles are reverse, you play as a cop and not a criminal. Imagine True Crimes of LA meets Lego. Lego City is large in scope, bustling with life and colour. There is a terrific amount of variation in the environment; ranging from the suburbia to a Nature reserve.
It is understandable that the load screens will wear your patience, but the payoff is well worth it. Typically, a large scale game such as Lego City usually has their fair share of bugs, but in my experience Lego City is not troubled with them. In fact, I did not experience one technical hiccup. None at all; no screen tearing no frame rated drops and no unnecessary bugs. It is an outstanding achievement to reach this level of refinement, especially for an open world game. TT games deserve a Gold medal for their polishing skill.
Unfortunately, Lego City Undercover is ultimately crippled by the desire to cater to the target audience. Critically, Lego City is devoid of any challenge or complexity. Crux of the game is essentially switching from one disguise to another, basic platforming and collecting bricks to create super builds. The real issue is that Lego City can become so monotonous and frustrating at times, that it becomes an effort to play the game for an extended period of time.
As the title suggest, the prominent gimmick is disguises. Truth be told, the disguises are simplistic cosmetic changes to Chase without any worthwhile value. While some costumes do have their own unique abilities, for the most part Travellers Tale forces you to change costume just to watch a different animation for the same action (pressing a button). Even the Puzzle element in Lego City is a monotonous task of switching between disguise and pressing the damn A button.
The combat is an empty series of buttons inputs lacking commitment and challenge. You could take on a gang by just spamming the Y and A button. That does not sound fun – does it? The simplicity and the overall ease will have you disengaged from the game immediate. It lacks imagination or conviction will barely appease the cravings of the gamer. I suspect even the spawnlings will yearn for more challenge in the combat. Don’t get the wrong idea Lego City Undercover is fun from a simpleton perspective, but I just could not play the main mission for long sessions.
The open world, serves as backdrops for the special assignments, which are levels separate from Lego City. These assignments essentially make up the majority of the Main Missions, and rarely occur in Lego city. It saddens me that Travellers Tale under used the beautiful playset of Lego City in the main story mission.
Not all is bad in Lego city, for the greater part I thoroughly enjoyed the game. Don’t fret Lego City Undercover has its moments. Missions that are present in GTA games make an appearance in Lego City. You will find car pursuits, escort missions and races in Lego City Undercover. And I forgot to mention you will be glad to hear the car seat banter is all here. Perhaps my most memorable moment of the game is riding the skeleton of a T-rex across Lego City. Oh that feeling of Power and invincibility. A stroke of genius!
Travellers Tale greatest accomplishment is creating this massive playset for the gamer. The amount of content in Lego City Undercover is mind boggling. Collecting all the gold bricks, finding all the pigs, conquering all areas and blowing up all the silver statues will take days to complete. And then there is unlocking all the vehicles, finding all the disguises and creating all the super builds.
There are many intriguing ideas that are used once or twice in the game and then forgotten by the developer. For example, you can use the gamepad as a scanner to locate the escaped criminal; on the screen the criminal will appear in red. This is an excellent detective tool replicating the feeling of being a cop well. But the problem is that it is only used once in the game.
Since we are on the topic of the Gamepad, Lego City Undercover uses the gamepad better than most games on the system. The most trivial use is of course placing the map on the second screen. There are attractive gamepad integration. The most noteworthy is taking screenshots of in-gameplay footage with the gamepad. Furthermore, you can move the gamepad and use the screen to ease drop on conversations. I was quite pleased with the gamepad integration in Lego City Undercover.
Lego City Undercover is ambitious in its approach to balance the Lego style into an open world game. Ultimately, I think it fails in achieving that balance. This is very much a Lego game. I know many people will love it for what it is, but I would like to have a bit more GTA. You may be turned off by the lack of difficulty and depth. Don’t be. This is just earnest critique of the game. Lego City Undercover is fun. Isn’t that all that matters? Lego City Undercover is a laudable blend of charm, humour, brilliant writing and simplicity that will have you wanting play more, even if in short bursts.