Platforms: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
Developer: TT Games
There are so few games that manage to encapsulate the perfect blend of creativity and fun like those that come from LEGO. ‘LEGO City Undercover’, is no exception. As one of the flagship games made available for the recently released Nintendo Switch (as well as several other platforms), you play as Chase McCain, a former LEGO City cop brought back to the force after the dastardly Rex Fury escapes from prison and tries to reclaim the city he once tried to take over. Using an array of vehicles and disguises, you can go undercover solo or with a friend in co-op mode and dismantle Fury’s regime from within before he rises to power once more.
A cavalcade of funny characters makes the game more than just about cars and bricks.
It goes without saying, if a primarily story-based game has no likable characters or a discernable personality of its own, there’s really no need to partake. However, if you’ve seen any of LEGO’s highly successful movies or played any previous game titles, you know you have nothing to worry about here. Chase McCain, the main protagonist and ongoing spoof on John McClane, comes into town and meets a cast of hilarious characters.
As you play, you meet Frank Honey and Ellie Phillips, friends and colleagues to Chase who not only provide you with the basics of your gameplay and the tech that you’ll be using, but also act as the heart and soul of the crew. Along with the hot-tempered curmudgeon, Chief Dunby, the dialogue is chock-full of movie and television references nestled within some very funny exchanges, all leaving you with more than enough to keep you smiling and laughing.
The gameplay encourages exploring the world…and destroying everything you find!
One of the most noticeable things when starting the game is the layout. It’s very similar to what you find in ‘Grand Theft Auto’ but justifiably less violent. You’re given the open world of LEGO City, a bustling metropolis with tiny yellow citizens, a whole library of vehicles, and its fair share of destructible objects. As a cop, Chase is able to “commandeer” any vehicle he wants, destroy it, and grab a new one. Eventually, you do get the ability to build your very own squad car at the police station, but it's way more enjoyable to just take a tow truck for a joy spin and see what you can smash.
Fortunately, all this mindless destruction is heartily encouraged. The world is designed to dispense LEGO bricks from anything you’re able to destroy, which are then saved and used in later builds. The more you have on you, the less you need to find for those bigger constructs, so smash as much as you want!
Puzzle solving and creative thinking make the game more than just building and smashing.
You might assume that the primary focus in a LEGO title would be building and creating. While that aspect plays a pretty heavy role, the other equally important focus is using your environment to explore and think creatively. Using an eclectic blend of puzzles, disguises, and spontaneous construction utilizing bricks from your surroundings, it causes you to think about how you need to make your way to your objective when you have almost everything at your disposal.
Throughout your missions as Chase, you need to add different builds to your arsenal. You’re able to construct vehicles, tools, and contraptions to get you from A to B. In order to do this, you need to explore. Hidden within the different buildings and obstacles you’ll find “super bricks”; glowing LEGO bricks that act as makeshift blueprints for new constructs, which require you to use the abilities and gadgets you’ve already learned to attain. Progressing is similar to playing with LEGO’s in real life: you need to actually learn and understand how things are assembled in the context of completing missions if you want to continue. It’s this aspect that makes the game a great tool for keeping players engaged and entertained.
LEGO has never been a company short on providing creativity and fun when it comes to their products for both the young and young at heart, ‘Undercover’ being the proof in the pudding. It features a great combination of exploration, ingenuity, problem solving, and comedy. Regardless of your age, this game has a lot going for it to keep you engaged throughout. If you managed to get your hands on a Nintendo Switch (or any current gen system, for that matter) and need to know which games should fill your new library, you’d be remiss to pass up ‘LEGO City Undercover’.