On the Case:
Since its release four years ago, ‘Lego City Undercover‘ has remained as covert as its title would imply. Thanks to console exclusivity, LCU was a bit of a hidden gem in the otherwise massive Lego franchise of videogames, but now that it’s hitting every other console available that’s all set to change.
And that’s a great thing: Lego City Undercover might just be my favourite Lego game to date – it’s smart, funny and endlessly engaging, and the small but vital changes this new re-release brings are all welcome ones.
LCU focuses on police officer Chase McCain and his bid to take down his criminal nemesis, Rex Fury, and he sets out to do this in a lengthy campaign full of brilliant cameos, parodies and a real laugh-a-minute script.
If you’ve ever watched a cop-orientated action movie or TV show you’re likely to pick up on at least a few of the endless references Lego City is throwing out at any given moment. The story here was a big reason I loved playing LCU the first time round, and I’m pleased to report it’s just as funny on a repeat playthrough.
This was one of the Lego team’s first original projects not based on an existing property, and I’ve gotta say: I can’t believe we haven’t had more of these ventures since considering the quality of what’s on display here. I’m hoping this new port will show what the team is capable of to a wider audience, because they’re being wasted on rehashes of popular franchises.
Sadly, this fresh take isn’t applied to the gameplay. If you’ve played a Lego game before, nothing here will really surprise you, and even less so if you gave LCU a go the first time round. Whilst the open world, that attempts to ape GTA’s freeform nature, is impressive, it doesn’t change much of the gameplay you’ll be getting up to. Standard puzzle solving and light combat all boil down to a bit of button-mashing, hammering highlighted enemies or interactive objects until the next cutscene plays. Don’t get me wrong, the Lego games have a certain charm – one that kids especially enjoy – but after so many titles the veneer begins to wear thin for jaded adults such as myself.
Thankfully you’re able to bring a second player along for the ride with this new re-release, and that’s a welcome addition that mixes things up somewhat. Though they’ll never be recognized by the game itself in its narrative, having a partner along for the ride just makes sense considering all the buddy-cop movies the game sends up (and alleviates some of the tedium that can otherwise set in for longtime Lego fans.) Younger players have often benefitted from having a helpful adult nudging them in the right direction (or impatiently doing everything for them, as is often the case in my household), so LCU’s original lack of multiplayer always seemed like an obvious omission to me. I’m glad this absence has finally been rectified.
There’s a whole host of things to find and do, as usual, and this element is still a worthwhile one. Lego City Undercover certainly delivers a bang for your buck, and hunting down every collectible will be even more of a life-consuming mission thanks to the scale of the game. More cripplingly, of course, is the addition of achievements and trophies to spur on devout completionists. Good luck.
Lego City looks great – though I can’t really comment on whether it’s visuals are leaps and bounds better than the Wii U version. Lego games have a style that is detailed but not particularly taxing, so aside from a resolution bump that none but the most eagle eyed viewers will notice, there’s little else here to write home about.
The loading times that were such a bugbear the first time round, however, have been improved. They’re still inexcusably long, but they’re actually a fair chunk better than those on its original release.
“Lego City Undercover” is a no-brainer for Lego fans who didn’t get a chance to play the first time round. It’s one of the team’s best titles, and definitely their funniest. Whilst the gameplay will be overly similar to what you’ve played before, the script will keep you laughing along effortlessly until the credits roll.