Developed by TT (Traveller’s Tales’) Games and published by Nintendo, LEGO City Undercover has been anything but silent on the Wii U giving players yet another must have game on the new console. This familiar brick-based media features Chase McCain as a lead detective tasked with policing this entertaining open world city, especially from the main antagonist Rex Fury.
The remaining standard characters include police Chief Dunby, love interest Natalia Kowalski, helpful police dispatcher Ellie Phillips, and rookie cop Frank Honey. Players of all ages can enjoy the clever humor, stress free story, and constant action. Chase has to work for notoriety, progress, and reestablish his relationship with Natalia after ruining her profile in the witness protection program.
In this one player experience, adventurers must rely on Chase’s colleagues, special gadgets/tools, costumes/disguises, and abilities to progress. Four profile slots allow other close family and friends to protect and serve, but the two player (using the Wii remotes), or at least co-op experience, would have been nice. Loading times definitely slow down the action, but the high replay value (unlockable costumes, vehicles, Super Builds, collectible gold bricks, etc.) make it all worthwhile.
The “shoot first ask questions later” method does not fit the rated E game format, but developers work beyond that simple perspective with several creative avenues for all aged players to solve problems, complete missions, and have fun all over town. Tactics using stealth, strategy, and collaboration can pay off big. Players can unlock the free play mode option fairly early in the main campaign, so younger, more inexperienced players can “get the lay of the land” at their own pace.
Interaction, communication, and navigation are very easy using the Wii U Gamepad controller (a.k.a. communicator), so turn up the volume on this unique tool. This “ultimate detective tool” incorporates maps, satellite navigation, video calls, drawing actions, scan features, audio scan and cameras. Players interact with the touch screen and various button while occasionally physically swiveling the GamePad around to complete tasks.
Players can use this communicator (GamePad) for communications with Ellie. For example, you can call Ellie for a mission reminder when off task. Mission locations and points-of-interest can be found here as well as the TV screen (e.g. follow green dot for path to mission and glowing columns for various points). Players can also set up navigation points and access information about collectibles and challenges.
The visual scanner feature has a motion sensor for targeting criminals…and collectible items plus an x-ray like viewer for seeing hidden/blocked objects. The scanner works very well for finding objects to complete missions. The camera also let players take in-game pictures to save and/or share on Miiverse. Players can also use the camera (press R button) for evidence and build a case against criminals.
Players also have various call-in points where they can access vehicles and items without returning to the police station. Just gather enough building blocks to construct these convenient points. Players also should be ready to wear the right costumes (eight total) for the right action and/or puzzle solving scenario. Switch costumes easily on the run with the push of a button. It’s easy to gain valuable “in-the-field” learning that saves valuable time.
Chase’s basic police uniform includes handcuffs and a handy grapple gun. All the familiar elements of police work fuses well into the gameplay with a fun 1970s’ type theme. Use of the handcuffs initially took some adjustment where Chase can “get his man” once they are down on the ground.
As his name suggests, nabbing criminals is all about the “Chase”, which requires players to perform some nifty stuntwork as well as maneuvering across buildings during pursuits, which include some tense, high-rise scenarios.
Chase can access special areas using a crow bar wearing the robber costume along with a color gun for turning special switches on and off. The fireman costume includes an axe and fire extinguisher while the construction worker costume has a jack hammer and repair kit.
As a miner, Chase gets explosives and a pick axe to lay waste to obstacles and environment impediments (mostly outside city limits). The farmer costume lets Chase grow plants he can climb to access high area and use a chicken as a glider and egg launcher.
The control scheme works nicely with visual cues appearing on-screen. For example, players can complete combat counter moves by pressing the same button as the icon shown above a character and/or object.
Choose from 100 vehicles including a helicopter to get around town quicker. Obviously some cars perform differently, especially in handling, so enter vehicles with caution (using x button). Players can always commandeer vehicles from civilians when needed using the L button, so grab something nice if you see it. Press the Y button for boost if available. Vehicle jumps are automatic and fun (Woo Hoo!) and the overall physics feel like they should – a LEGO vehicle driving on LEGOs.
The recommended LEGO City Undercover (*** out of four stars) also includes helpful text subtitles, entertaining pop culture references, and various learning opportunities. Script writer Graham Goring, a former standup comedian, garners nice laughs as the player can garner the collectibles totaling up to 290 character tokens, 110 vehicle tokens, 40 red bricks and 450 gold bricks.
LEGO City Undercover The Chase Begins, a prequel to this game’s storyline that offers a whole separate game experience, is also available on the Nintendo 3DS.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler