Ever since Lego City Undercover was first released as Wii U exclusive back in 2013, I’ve been desperate to play the game. Now my time has come! As the game has been remastered for the PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch three years later.
Over those three years, the game has been slightly altered so it’s not a game fitted for just a Wii U – like using the gyro in the gamepad to look around and scan for things in the game – as well as adding new things such as the much-loved co-op option!
To summarise the Lego City Undercover – imagine Grand Theft Auto for kids and you play a cop. That’s the game! An open world collectathon with all the classic Lego traits and voice acting; the first Lego game to have such. You are Chase McCain, a cop returning to Lego City after two years to hunt down Rex Fury, a highly wanted criminal who’s escaped prison. With the help of the police department and a few other surprising allies, you collect disguises and go (spoiler alert) undercover to get to Rex!
The storyline is written for children, so there isn’t much complexity and some outrageous turns you couldn’t excuse in a more serious game (but that’s part of the fun!). Minus some faltering in the middle, the game has a hilarious introduction and an exciting climax. However, the game shines through its character. Minus the frustrating damsel in distress, Natalia Kowalski, and your dunce of a sidekick, Frank Honey, the whole cast are fantastic! You have every stereotypical character you can imagine and it works without being tedious or conventional.
The game does a fantastic job of having kid-friendly scenes and dialogue along with some hilarious references for the adults that’ll fly over the kids’ heads. From a whole assignment that’s a basic clone of Shawshank Redemption to a Schwarzenegger based character constantly dropping movie references, the hidden nods are endless! At times the running jokes can be a little tiring but are mainly for the young ones. Lego games have a charming sense of humour that leaves you ugly laughing or groaning but still grinning on the inside. The cleverly timed comedy throughout the whole game is a genius thread of gag after gag, and keeps them going for the whole 15+ hours of story! The beginning cutscenes are especially hilarious and give you a good example of the puns to come.
Despite not playing the original Wii U version, I remember one of the main complaints being loading times. While there are still some loading screens, it appears that they are much quicker than before, plus you get more than a plain screen. The game’s controls are easy to pick up, and although sometimes frustrating during tricky platform sections, were fine to use. Graphics-wise, there’s not much to say except it’s Lego; there wasn’t a major difference to the Wii U version either. It blends realistic settings with spectacular Lego buildings and vehicles, all of them modelled perfectly. The attention to detail pays off, immersing you in this Lego world. Essentially, it’s a childhood dream come true!
This is Lego’s first open world game, and boy is this open world huge! I played the entire main story and only completed around 25% of the game. That means not only tonnes of replay value, but loads of stuff to keep you entertained. There are so many game modes that you unlock along the way, such as time trials, free run courses and falling sequences. You can also go back to earlier stages where you didn’t have all your disguises and finally be able to do things you couldn’t before. With each disguise you pick up, you have a new ability and can tackle other obstacles which added a whole load of extra fun! Sometimes it’s just fun stealing someone’s sports car and speeding around Lego City and seeing what you come across! For a kids game, the scale is immense!
While I understand this is a children’s game and wouldn’t expect it, having side quests or giving the player more freedom with what they could do minus ‘Water 20 flowers’ quests then that would have been the icing on the cake for me! The game focused on the main story when there are many fun characters that could have had some optional extras for. That being said, the amount of content already in this game is spectacular and I know that I’ll be heading back into the game to get collecting!
Like every game, it has its cons. Before I get into them, however, remember its main audience is children. If you’re looking for an intense game, then this isn’t it, as you’re basically told what to do the whole time you play it – even the puzzles have the solution next to them. You’re not given any freedom to try and figure out how to progress because if you stop for a minute you’ll have either a character or some text on your screen shouting hints. Imagine that annoying backseat gamer that just talks you through the game and leaves you with no challenge – that’s this game.
Even in previous Lego games I still had some trouble figuring out some puzzles, but that was fun. Another simple annoyance is you don’t get hurt. Well, you do, but you just lose some Studs and respawn in the exact same spot as you died. (Also a pain when you die in a pit of fire and can’t get out.) The pacing of the actual gameplay is tedious at times as well, making what sounds like a simple task dragging out into a 20-minute long puzzle platform section. I’m all for fun obstacles but it eventually gets tiring. On the other hand, there are some awesome moments, like riding a raptor (no seriously!), but because it’s part of a mission, you get to ride a certain path for a couple of minutes and that’s the last you’ll see of it.
The game does so much to cram so much variety in, however at the same time there’s barely enough time to showcase all that variety. There are so many cool aspects of the game that only happen once before being pushed away for another free run level. This open world adventure is great for all ages, with a solid story, great characters and every level you can think of. Even though it’s not polished and a little easy and annoying for adults, the inner kid in you sure will be smiling all the way!