Lego City Undercover Review

May 19, 2014 at 10:35 am | Posted in Game Review, Wii U Review | Leave a comment
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Announced alongside the Wii U, Traveller’s Tales first open-world LEGO game provided an early glimpse of what the new console was capable of and showed Nintendo was willing to court third-party support. It may have slipped from bolstering the Wii U’s launch line-up but has the extra development time helped its cause? Check out our review to find out.

LCU

Title: Lego City Undercover

Format: Wii U

Developed by: TT Games

Published by: Nintendo

Genre: Adventure

 

When LEGO Star Wars was released in 2005 few could have foretold the series would grow to be the all-conquering series it is today. Since Traveller’s Tales first foray into George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away there have been precisely a million titles released, for franchises as diverse as Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter and Indiana Jones. Lego City Undercover, and its 3DS counter-part, subtitled The Chase Begins, mark the first time TT games have worked unshackled by a franchise and they really make the most of that freedom.

 

Without a strict film plot to adhere to, LEGO City Undercover instead tells a simple tale of hardened (plastic) cop Chase McCain in LEGO City, well…going undercover. That provides more than enough scope for TT Games to go to town (or city) on sight gags and one-liners that would make the writers of Airplane green with envy. On his quest to find and stop master criminal Rex Fury, Chase finds himself breaking in and out of prison, working for a Yakuza boss, and getting friendly with an Ice-Cream loving mobster. Along the way TT Games manages to spoof everything from Shawshank Redemption, to Titanic and Goodfellas. The writing is witty, the delivery is fantastic. The result is the funniest video game since Conker’s Bad Fur Day (and a lot more family friendly).

 

One of the many Mario references

One of the many Mario references

 

The missions are simple but diverse enough to keep you hooked throughout the 25+ hours it takes to reach the surprisingly epic finale. Chase adopts a range of jobs along the way, including a farmer and an astronaut, each with their own skill set and collectibles. In between missions it’s easy to lose several hours wandering around the city trying out new abilities and chasing after the huge amount of character tokens, vehicles and side missions that litter the nameless city.

And what a wonderful place it is too. Every district and special landmark resembles a real-world location: the City hosts its own versions of San Fransico’s steep tram-lined streets and Golden Gate bridge; Miami’s sun-kissed beaches and pastel-hued property; the island prison of Alcatraz; and the rolling hills of Yellowstone Park. TT Games has built a playful sandbox that just begs to be explored. Adventurous players that take the time to go off the beaten path are constantly rewarded with new character skins, vehicles, mini games and side-missions. Whether it’s a set of birdhouses to build, billboards to repaint, or a cat to rescue from a tree, Lego City is as chock full of little diversions as Skyrim. Driving around the city is its own reward; cars and road-side objects crumble and into their component bricks when you hit them, and unlucky pedestrians dive for cover when you mount the pavement. It’ll unlock the same maniacal little scallywag in you that enjoys terrorising Liberty City’s unlucky inhabitants, but in a family-friendly guise.

 

When a game is this enjoyable to play it could be easy to gloss over elements that are less than impressive, but Lego City is not without its faults. For a start, the missions, never really go out of their way to provide a challenge to experienced players. It’s also a shame the co-op option that made previous LEGO titles such fun to play with children or younger siblings has been removed. Perhaps it was a lack of knowledge of the new hardware that curbed TT Games’ ambitions – something highlighted by horrendous loading times between self-enclosed levels and the main city – or maybe they just felt Chase was better off without a partner this time around.

lcu 2

Pigs might fly…

 

That said, ultimately none of these things are enough to bring down the overall experience. If Nintendo gives a green light to a sequel hopefully TT Games will get the chance to iron out the kinks and expand Chase McCain’s world a little more. It’s not quite the must-have it could have been, but, beyond Nintendo’s own titles, this is probably the best exclusive currently available for Wii U.

 

8.5/10

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