Lego City Undercover is back after a short break with a new multi-console release complete with an even better-looking world and some new goodies to collect. What a difference four years makes! Let's see what Chase has been up to.
Chase McCain was asked by the Mayor of Lego City to return to the police force to take down the notorious Rex Fury. Chase's girlfriend Natalia is in witness protection and he hasn't been back to the city in a while since he was asked to leave after previous events around Rex. As soon as Chase arrives, it becomes evident that he's not exactly a model cop as he quickly phones Natalia and uncovers her identity, endangering her yet again. Rex isn't the only bad guy causing havoc in Lego City, however. A crime wave has hit with bank robbers and playful clowns running amok so it's up to Chase to take down each offender in the hopes of finding information about where Rex may be hiding.
Lego City Undercover can be compared to the famous Grand Theft Auto series in its gameplay but told from the police's perspective rather than the criminals. That's right; you can drive your police car wherever you please on the streets of Lego City while taking down pedestrians and streetlamps as you like with no chance of being chased by the law. You'll be given waypoints on your map that you reach with any vehicle around you (including any car driven by a civilian). Once you reach the waypoint, you'll basically be given step-by-step instructions on what to do in order to capture the next criminal. Lego games have evolved over the last few years to have less guidance so the continuous onscreen prompts and arrows here stand out. I can't say that it affects the fun to be had because I can take or leave instructions in these generally basic games.
The Wii U version of Lego City Undercover made great use of the GamePad. In fact, it's the only Wii U game that I was honestly surprised by how well it was implemented. When played on consoles that don't have a second screen, what would usually be seen on it is instead blended quite well into the HUD. Messages from other police folk will appear in the corner, the touchpad will bring up a nice big map, and you'll be prompted when to make use of the other tools that were available on the GamePad.
Not being able to decide when I want to use the X-ray vision to spot criminals hiding in buildings is slightly more restricting but it doesn't take away from the overall fun. The main thing I miss is having the map on a separate screen. Being able to constantly reference it while playing made it feel like I was really on the streets of Lego City holding a map so that novelty is unfortunately absent here.
Collecting disguises in Lego City Undercover is a hoot with a huge array of costumes to find. This version in particular adds 15 new costumes, too. The fact that you can disguise yourself as a pretty lady but the character's voice remains that of Chase McCain is hilarious. Speaking of funny aspects, the policeman Frank Honey is such a delight to be around. His overly enthusiastic vibe, silly lines and comedic timing make for lots of laughs. This isn't the only thing you'll chuckle at as in pure Lego fashion, there's humour to be found everywhere you go with lots of downright silly one-liners and physical comedy.
Other than disguises, collecting vehicles is also a big part of Lego City Undercover and you're treated to 10 new ones here as well. Once a disguise or vehicle is unlocked, it can be accessed at special booths dotted around the city. Last but not least, gold bricks are back which are awarded for completing various tasks as you complete the story levels and simply romp around the main city area in free play.
There are 15 chapters with multiple missions in them, making the amount of fun to be had akin to the lengthy side of an average Lego game. Once you've completed the missions, you're free to walk (or drive) around Lego City. It's broken up into multiple districts each with its own distinct style and array of collectibles to find. You'll spend some time downtown, at the docks, on Albatross Island, in Blackwell's Moonbase, and enjoying the country life of Fort Meadow.
A lot of the city has a San Francisco vibe (which makes it feel more like Grand Theft Auto) so there are lots of interesting houses, hills and landmarks to see. It all looks great, too. They've done a very good job of improving the graphics when you're walking around and taking on missions. However, about half of the full-motion videos seem to be in a lower quality. You can plainly see when a video is rendered with in-game graphics because when it is, it looks miles better. The audio still sounds great as it keeps the '70s cop show theme alive. It makes the cameos of Starsky and Hutch and Columbo fit right in, too.
Lego City Undercover remains a unique game in such a sizable series. Although there's no GamePad accessory to pair with this iteration and some of the videos are of lower quality, it doesn't take away from the great amount of fun to be had in Lego City.
- + A standout title in the Lego series
- + Tons of humorous moments and cameos
- + Great amount of variety within the sprawling region of Lego City
- - Some videos are of poor quality
- - Not having the freedom of a separate screen makes it less fun than the Wii U version