Lego blocks have been around for decades now, and it feels like the Traveller’s Tales games have been around nearly as long. We’ve had takes on Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Avengers to name but a few, and the games have nearly always been based on a film franchise or TV show.
In 2013, Lego City Undercover arrived for Nintendo’s Wii U, telling a unique Lego-based story that wasn’t from a prior TV series, film, or any other medium. Now, this story and its world has finally made its way to other major platforms, but has it been worth the wait?
Lego City Undercover: Windows PC, Xbox One [Reviewed], PlayStation 4, Wii U, Nintendo Switch
Developer: TT Fusion
Publisher: Warner Bros
Release Date: 4 April 2017
Price: £49.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Publisher]
After an exciting opening sequence, you find yourself in the shoes of Chase McCain, a police officer who has been off the scene for two years. After compromising the secret identity of a witness in an important case, Chase is back in Lego City to catch an infamous villain all over again.
Criminal mastermind Rex Fury is on the loose, and it is your job to find him, by going undercover. It’s nice to see an original Lego story for once, one that works very well. Lego City Undercover includes fun characters, movie references and cheesy humour throughout, so the story is enjoyable enough, with seemingly more substance than most of the other titles in the franchise.
Lego City Undercover plays out in a similar way to the other Lego titles in the franchise, with the player enjoying a large hub world to explore along with several levels that split up the story. The hub world, in this case, is Lego City, made up of the mainland, which can be travelled by car or train, and a few islands that can be reached by boat. The city offers a good size without ever feeling overwhelming, but there is plenty around this city to keep you busy.
You could be stealing a car one minute, arresting a criminal the next, shooting pigs back to the farm or watering flowers; there’s a vast number of things to do in Lego City and collectables to find along the way. Red bricks, gold bricks and studs all return here, meaning that Lego fans will feel right at home with this game.
In addition to this, you will also find super builds scattered about the hubs and levels. Super builds require something a little different, but the end result is often worth it. When you bump into a car or knock over a bench, a different type of stud block will emerge and become available for you to collect as well as glowing coloured bricks found across the world.
These various blocks can then be used to complete each super build, which could amount to anything from stunt ramps to vehicle request points to bridges to train stations. Completing the unique objects in the hub earn you a gold brick, of which there are a whopping 450 to find, and may also help you reach new areas or find hidden secrets.
Super builds are a nice introduction and something the Lego games haven’t really seen before, offering each player a new objective to complete while providing a handy form of assistance in an around the city.
Of the main additions in Lego City Undercover, disguises represent the best feature. You’ve always been able to play as numerous characters, by collecting character tokens scattered around the world, and even though you’ll still essentially be doing this, it works a little differently. Chase must go undercover at many points during the game’s story, and as he does, the player will unlock different personas or disguises.
You could be a robber, a farmer, an astronaut to name but a few occupations. Each disguise comes with it a unique weapon or skill to use; a robber, for example, would be able to break into locked doors, a farmer can water plants to grow a vine to climb up. Disguises are an interesting way of unlocking characters and using abilities, but works perfectly in the sense that Chase is a cop undercover, and, let’s face it, who doesn’t want to be an astronaut?
Lego City Undercover is definitely one of the best-looking Lego games on the market, and the animations appear better than ever. Each little yellow faced Lego character feels more interactive and the facial animations especially look particularly impressive, which makes playing through the game all the more enjoyable.
Its setting Lego City is as equally impressive with huge skyscrapers lining the sky, vast waters and a whole bunch of NPCs that react to your movements and actions. This world isn’t without its problems though, and you’ll be met with the usual bout of glitches that we’ve come to associate with Lego games i.e getting stuck in broken bricks, the game stalling and being unable to interact with objects are just a few of the problems I encountered.
There’s a great soundtrack accompanying Lego City Undercover, which is upbeat and wouldn’t feel out of place in a cheesy 80’s cop movie. Sadly, a fair percentage of the time I was unable to enjoy this music because, for whatever reason, it outright refused to play. Driving across an exciting map feels a bit boring with no background music to listen to, and makes the game feel very dull when it isn’t really.
Other similarly annoying issues include the camera, which was often erratic and not where I wanted it, causing more than a few falls, and the driving controls feel as awful as ever. These issues become more abundant and more annoying the longer you play the game, which is a shame, as it is a fun experience for long periods.
All in all, Lego City Undercover is a more than enjoyable experience. The story is solid, the city is exciting to explore, and the characters look and feel better than they ever have in the Lego series. The Lego games still have the same old problems though, with glitching, bad driving and camera issues cluttering an otherwise fun game. Lego City Undercover could possibly be the best Lego game on the market, and fans of the previous should definitely be giving this a go, and for newbies, this is the perfect game with which to take the jump into the series.