Chase McCain, a cop on the edge. He’s also made of LEGO, strangely enough.
In LEGO City Undercover on the Wii U, you play cop Chase McCain, who disappeared under a grey cloud two years ago when he was sent away from the LEGO City Police department. Under the order of the chief of police you’ve returned to find that LEGO City is in the grip of a crime wave orchestrated by your arch enemy Rex Fury. Rex Fury has escaped from Albatross Island, where he has spent the last six years becoming a habitual criminal mastermind and he has now fled to LEGO City to cause chaos and mayhem for the local LEGO residents. Chase McCain has returned to LEGO City with a promise to keep and a debt to be repaid, as he tries to uphold the law and protect witness Natalia Smith, an attractive Pamela Anderson look-a-like, who wants to give her testimony against Rex Fury and is in witness protection.
You return to the LEGO City Police department after an eventful journey on a local ship, involving the captain trying to dock the ship in a chaotic fashion. Following a hilarious clip parodying Rose and Jack from the Titanic movie as they grip each other, the ship finally docks and Chase McCain disembarks into LEGO City.
LEGO City is presented as an open world and looks absolutely amazing. Every corner of the city is filled with detailed buildings, LEGO city residents and streets, offering an incredible environment to explore. Standing on the harbour and looking around, you can see the LEGO Statue of Liberty in the background, roads that disappear into the distance and a world of LEGO bricks to smash to pieces. The first instinct is to just wander around and explore, but it’s not long before you’re called upon by the chief of police and Mayor Gleeson to help restore the city to it’s former peaceful self.
Jumping into your police car and heading to the LEGO City Police Department will be your first experience of driving the LEGO vehicles. It’s pretty straightforward, pressing A to accelerate and using the left stick to steer, occasionally the vehicle can jump by tilting the Wii U Gamepad. Steering your vehicle takes a little practice, and I did find myself smashing into other vehicles frequently during my journey and taking the odd resident standing on the pavement and wrapping them around a lamp post. Once you arrive at the police station, you’re met by Frank Honey, a hilarious officer who shows you around the police station. Inside you’ll have to interact with a self assembly wardrobe for your new police uniform and this is where you’re first introduced to the disguise wheel, allowing you to dress Chase McCain up in a selection of disguises.
Ellie Philips, who works on the requisition desk, informs you about using your police communicator, introducing the touch screen interactions on the Wii U Gamepad. The Wii U Game pad acts as your police communicator and allows you to perform various actions, such as highlighting with a blue arrow a GPS location you need to head to, or tapping the video camera icon to take a videocall. Throughout the missions and objectives in the game, the police communicator will light up with the image of Ellie Philips informing you of a local crime taking place, or giving you directions to your next objective. The police communicator can also be used for detective scans, in which you’ll be able to follow a set of hidden footprints, for example, that only appear while you’re scanning in this mode. Another function of the communicator is to perform criminal scans and find hidden suspects nearby. Holding the Wii U Gamepad up to the television screen, you can see figures that appear in yellow. Pressing a suspect will lock in on them, turning them red and alerting you of their presence in the area. The Wii U Gamepad has been used in an incredibly enjoyable, interactive way, offering something more than just moving a stick and pressing buttons, and is one of the best uses of the Gamepad that I have seen so far.
Walking around LEGO City, wandering the streets and taking everything in, it’s really quite impressive how expansive the open world is. There is so much to explore, it’s quite hard to initially to take it all in. Do you run around the streets smashing every brick to smithereens, go exploring, or check out the missions first? It’s a tough decision, but you’re Chase McCain, so whatever decision you make will be the right one.
Rare Super Bricks are scattered throughout the city, which can be difficult to find as many are well hidden. Using detective mode, you will be able to find them on the Gamepad screens and highlight them, although many may be out of reach until later in the game. Distributed through the city are call-in points, where unlockable items can be built with the required number of bricks. You can purchase and build everything from a ferry to various LEGO vehicles, such as bikes or super performance cars.
The missions are pretty straightforward and Chase McCain will find himself running across rooftops, dangling from a skyscraper via his grapple gun and wrestling with criminals in an effort to arrest them and place them behind bars. Chase McCain can shimmy and courageously balance on ledges, climb up drain pipes and find himself being flung across the city buildings via the catapult pad. This is a special pad that literally flings Chase into the air and in the direction of his next objective, whether that is hunting and finding robbers or getting into a hot pursuit police chase.
The police chases on foot or in vehicles are fun. On foot, you may find yourself running after a local criminal and wrestling him to the ground. In vehicles, you will find yourself trying to smash into the criminals vehicle to bring it to a complete halt.
The humour in LEGO City Undercover plays a large part in the fun. You’ll be met with some hilarious cut-scenes that may result in a fit of giggles, or the odd one liner that raises a familiar smile. Many of the missions add humour to the game, such as finding a missing sandwich for a local construction worker, or having to sort out a LEGO police pile-up. There is certainly plenty to keep the average gamer amused within the city, and there is a lot to discover, including the occasional secret.
However, there are a few niggling issues that did affect my LEGO City experience. The loading times seemed awfully long and drawn out for starters. The vehicles in LEGO City feel a bit flighty and can be difficult to control, leading to chaos on the roads. It is also quite surprising to find that there is no multiplayer of any kind in the game, which is something I am used to with my LEGO games and sorely missed here.
LEGO City Undercover is basically a Fisher Price version of Grand Theft Auto, with less breaking the law and more building stuff. If you’re a fan of the LEGO games, you’ll certainly have enough bricks to smash through, missions to complete and plenty of criminals to arrest. It’s a brilliantly fun game that doesn’t take itself seriously and injects a good sense of humour into the gameplay without it feeling tired or tedious. You’ll find yourself being immersed in an impressive storyline, falling in love or in fits of giggles with the characters and generally having a bloody good time.