Huh, we are getting a lot of Lego games, aren’t we? It seems like we get about two a year or so. In my opinion, I don’t mind this, unlike other series like sports games or Call of Duty. This series is ALMOST getting to that point, but they do change up the experiences enough to make them feel unique from one another, even if some game design choices that Traveler Tales, the developers of the Lego games, make are still in the core game design. Even if the little things like a slightly tedious camera, way too many collectables to collect for your own good are in the game, there is usually something to change it up to make it feel slightly fresher than normal. Yeah, the series has hit a few snags like Lego Rock Band and the second Lego Indiana Jones game, but overall, it is a consistent franchise. Today we are going to talk about the newest game in the Lego franchise that isn’t based off of a licensed property, but is for the first time, a Lego brand, Lego City Undercover for the Wii U. Along with the prequel game, Lego City: The Chase Begins for the 3DS, both of these are based off a series of Lego sets and is basically a child-friendly version of Grand Theft Auto. Most of the game is really good, but it does have some flaws, however, let’s not dive into the negatives just yet! Let us get started then, shall we? This is Lego City Undercover for the Wii U.
The game takes place in, where else? Lego City. You play as a cop named Chase McCain, voiced by Joseph May. Chase is returning to the city after some time only to find out that a villain he put away a long time ago has escaped and is on the loose. Chase is then put back on the force, and meets new characters, like the slightly goofy cop, Frank Honey, voiced by Trevor White, and they set off to find out how this evil criminal named Rex Fury escaped, and then find out something even bigger. The story is really simple, and some might find that a bad thing. I say that since the story is filled with rather two-dimensional characters, the plot twists are easy to see, and the story is full of incredibly corny jokes that would make Full House look like South Park. However, is that really a bad thing? NO! The story is highly enjoyable with memorable characters, references, and its humor. There might be jokes that are filled to the brim with corn, but even me, a 23-year-old smirked and laughed at them. It’s overall enjoyable, and while it is aimed at kids, I bet a few adults will find at least a few good jokes to laugh at here and there.
The gameplay is basically a child-friendly version of Grand Theft Auto. You get a huge city to explore, multiple cars and other vehicles to drive around to each of the side or story-based missions, and a huge cast of colorful yet simple characters. As you progress through the game, Chase will gain multiple different outfits that will help him solve some of the puzzles that are littered throughout the story missions and all over the city in general. For example, if you need a safe picked or a door ripped open with a crowbar, use the burglar outfit. Need to tear down a door boarded up and put out fires? Use the fire fighter suit. Want to cross small gaps with a jet pack and shoot a laser beam and play Simple Simon Says puzzles? Use the astronaut outfit. Each outfit you get is varied, and you will be using a lot of them during the same mission within the story. All over Lego City there are super-build areas where you will need to collect power bricks to build. Each power brick gives you a certain number of bricks from a thousand to ten thousand, and to unlock certain cars and characters, you need to make these super-builds happen. Combat in the game is interesting to say the least. Instead of the button mashing you have done in past Lego games, your most used techniques are Arkham City-style counter moves and throws when dealing with multiple enemies. It’s not the most complex combat system, but it’s cool using your enemies force against them like in Aikido. As you drive, fly, or go by boat around the huge city, you will find side missions-like crimes that you need to stop, secret races to unlock more cars, and just some good old-fashioned Uncharted/Arkham City/Assassin’s Creed style platforming to find more things to unlock. This is easily a huge game to complete if you want to get every single little thing, and it took me about 10 or more hours to complete the game including a few side missions. The Wii U pad is well implemented where you will be using it a lot to scan for hidden criminals, hearing conversations between bad guys, talking to your fellow police allies and using it as a map. While there is no off-TV play where you can play just on the Wii U game pad, I think that’s good, since the screen would be too cluttered with having to manage the gadgets used on the Wii U pad with the action on screen. Overall, a pretty solid single-player experience can be had for all ages.
Graphically, it looks really nice. While I do wish everything was made of Legos, it still looks good. The city is hustling and bustling without seeing the huge amount of silly bugs that you would find in games like Red Dead Redemption or Grand Theft Auto. As time goes by though, the more realistic-looking things will look dated, and I wish Traveler Tales would just Lego-ize everything already. I will explain why later. The voice acting is top-notch with some really good voice performances that spew out the silly and corny jokes that, like I said, still gave me a chuckle here and there. The music is very 70’s cop-movie-oriented, and it fits the mood of the game. The references to cop films, shows, and other movies are too many to count and are quite silly. One of my favorite references is easily the one for Dirty Harry. It’s just a pleasant overall package presentation-wise.
So, what’s wrong with the game? Not a whole lot. These complaints are just personal nitpicks of mine. The reason why I wish everything was made of Legos is because, while driving a vehicle, you can easily get stuck on the plants that are more realistic, and this happened more than a couple of times during those tedious driving challenges. Those driving challenges, like I just mentioned, are annoying. They can be beaten, but some challenges are more of a pain than others. For example, just try to get the ice cream truck secret challenge unlocked. It is a pain. While I do like how many characters you can unlock, they really aren’t all that different from one another. They’re just around to have a different looking character, though it seems like it’s padding the game out with characters that all play the same. Why does the Spartan Warrior play the same as the butcher? I think it would have been more fun if the characters you unlocked played differently, like the vehicles do. I also hate the complaint people have about multi-player not being included. Sure, you could make a separate buddy-cop-mode for the sequel, but multi-player has always been a slightly tedious experience in the past Lego games, so I’m glad they didn’t shoehorn it into the game, like what Crystal Dynamics did with the recent Tomb Raider game. I also wish the city was livelier with crime instead of just finding the crime yourself. It needed a good random element, like in Skyrim or Red Dead Redemption. I know it’s a game for much younger gamers, but I think that would have spiced it up a bit for older gamers.
Even with my little complaints, Lego City Undercover is a fantastic game, and I would highly recommend getting it for your Wii U. There is a prequel game for the 3DS that you should also get just to get the complete package. This is easily, like everyone has said, the best Lego game out of the series so far. It wasn’t based off of any licensed property besides a Lego building series, it had full-on voicework, an original story (again for a Lego building series), a good sense of humor, and it was just fun. Go check it out if you already haven’t.
This game gets an 8 out of 10.