LEGO City Undercover preview: Licence to thrill

by Ben Salter 7 Comments 20 Likes 5,513 Views 05/03/2013 Back to Wii U articles LEGO City Undercover

TT Games has been granted a licence to thrill.

A licence to thrill the audience with hilarity, as it borrows from a slew of historic action, romance and comedy films and breaks free of the restrictive shackles that comes from making a single licensed game.

With experience from the Lego Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones, Star Wars and Batman in-tow, TT has been gifted the creative freedom to divulge into an open world within the playful Lego universe it has made its own.

Lego City: Undercover -- heading exclusively to Wii U and 3DS (the latter as a prequel) -- is a comic take on the popular Grand Theft Auto crime sandbox, geared more towards Saints Row’s realism and New Super Mario Bros’ target market.

The opening 20 minutes offer a glimpse into gameplay, but are filled mostly by cinematics -- some of the funniest I’ve seen in years.

The opening scenes establish protagonist Chase McCain, an undercover cop determined to clean up this city. It’s jam-packed with movie references spanning several decades, ensuring it caters for a wide age-range and making it one of the few open world crime games that can be enjoyed by young kids and parents together -- I can’t think of any others off the top of my head.

Lego City: Undercover isn’t only an actual game to play on Wii U, it could quite possibly be the best yet.

Lego City feels very different to the aforementioned licensed Lego properties. It places an added emphasis on developing an entourage of characters, because we aren’t already familiar with them, and encourages players to explore the expansive world.

Within buildings, such as the police head quarters, the gameplay reverts to the familiar linear path and pushes you in a set direction to further the story. However, once you get out on the open road, the (Lego) world becomes your oyster.

As a goodie, McCain doesn’t immediately reach for a gun or blow something up. He adopts a more civil approach to policing that sees him apprehend a suspect and slap on a pair of handcuffs. However, that isn’t to say he doesn’t leave a path of destruction.

The Lego equivalent of Die Hard’s explosive fireballs is tumbling bricks, and McCain knows how to knock ‘em down. Driving erratically will damage other cars, seeing reserved sedans transformed into broken convertibles.

Flashing his badge (probably), Chase can commandeer civilian vehicles without breaking speed. A quick tap of the ‘X’ button while you’re driving past will see Chase jump into a nearby vehicle -- although, you best be careful; swapping out of a nos powered beast into a pitiful granny-mobile is disgraceful.

As an undercover rozzer, Chase can unlock a total of 290 different disguises. Each allows him to access different abilities to progress through the mission. For instance, while the cop uniform includes handcuffs, the criminal kit allows him to pick locks.

The Wii U GamePad is put into Chase’s hands within 10 minutes (under the guise of a policeman-tablet-control-pad-thingo) and offers some basic yet effective secondary images. The screen, for one, ensures you’ll always keep an eye on your location thanks to a sizable map. It can also be used as a scanner, akin to ZombiU, whilst on the hunt for perps.

The GamePad become’s McCain’s primary means of communication with HQ. He’ll make and receive calls on the 'pad, showcasing a cool and somewhat underutilised feature of the Wii U. The pretty-young-thing at HQ will make a video call, and only be heard through the GamePad’s speaker while the cheerful music continues on the main-screen -- assuming you have the GamePad’s volume on. If it’s turned off, it’ll all come through the TV.

With a vibrant world full of an array of vehicles, my first instinct was just to roam around the city. Being a family friendly affair, pedestrians will dive out of the way of your reckless motoring, but Lego people can’t exactly face a gruesome death. Simply pop those legs back in, sonny!

The only point of issue is horrendous loading times. These are the worst I’ve seen on Wii U -- walking inside a building took a good two-to-three minutes -- and hopefully are addressed before the final release. It’s impossible to say if they’re related to the preview build or an avoidable issue that’ll reappear in the final release.

With almost no Wii U releases since the console launched in November last year, Lego City: Undercover is the shinning light for Nintendo fans. With developing characters, loads of humour and an exciting world to explore, Lego City: Undercover isn’t only an actual game to play on Wii U, it could quite possibly be the best yet.

Lego City: Undercover will be released in Australia on March 28 for Wii U.

By Ben Salter

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LEGO City Undercover preview: Licence to thrill Comments

  • xxLCr0wxx 6495 XP 05/03/2013
    nice review

    thinking of pick this game up
  • Leasha 107514 XP 05/03/2013
    I want this but I have nothing to play it on :(
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  • Guyver 476298 XP 05/03/2013
    Been waiting for this one LEGO City Undercover preview: Licence to thrill
  • Tano 363562 XP 05/03/2013
    It's like The Naked Gun meets Hot Shots meets GTA.
  • kangle4 39579 XP 05/03/2013 +1
    Did that comment not get enough recognition in the other thread :P
  • Olly 34243 XP 05/03/2013

    kangle4 said: Did that comment not get enough recognition in the other thread

    Yeah i thought i had read that before :P

    Anyhow i can't help but think this is just gonna be another Lego game, i find them to be all the same. The open world seems good but Lego Batman 2 had a little of this and was nothing special as well as featuring poor handling of the vehicles. I'm not sure if i'm ready for another Lego game, just recently started LotR Lego and 5 mins in and i'm bored of the same old.
  • PlayStation 52116 XP 08/03/2013
    Time to dust off the Wii U
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