LEGO City Undercover
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2013-05-21 Wii U Action/Adventure E10 (Everyone 10+) TT Fusion / Nintendo

Following my experience with LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins on 3DS, I was looking forward to try LEGO City Undercover on Wii U, as I'd now be playing the games in their right chronological order.

With The Chase Begins, I got a glimpse of a LEGO City under construction, where I was able to build some landmarks. Now on the Wii U, I expected bigger environments to explore and familiar surroundings, and I wasn't far off with my predictions.

LEGO City Undercover begins with Chase McCain's return to LEGO City and the subsequent encounters with certain characters. Rex Fury is the villain of choice, and Natalia (Chase's love interest) is part of the witness protection program.

The core of the game revolves around missions that take place on a free-roaming environment that you can explore to your heart's content. McCain goes from racing through the streets of LEGO City endangering pedestrians, to doing some serious acrobatics on skycraper rooftops.

The gameplay itself is quite varied. As a police officer, Chase can follow tracks to discover clues, and he's got a various set of moves, since he is able to climb vines, swing on poles, bounce on trampolines or balance on a tight rope. There is some combat on occasion, mostly consisting of throws and placing of handcuffs to arrest the baddies while they're down. New combat moves (overpower and counter) become available later on.

There are also some car chases involved, and the vehicles don't handle all that well, and yes, they all handle differently, so don't expect to drive a police car the same way you drive a scooter or a truck. The train and respective stops will progressively become available to help you fast travel between places.

Chase can change into a series of different costumes that him to access specific abilities for all occasions. For example, the thief costume lets you open safes or pry open doors with a crowbar, the construction worker costume lets you use a hammer drill and handle high voltage without being electrocuted, the farmer uses a chicken to glide through the air. Costumes always leave you wondering what comes next, add interesting elements and variety to the gameplay, and they are a lot of fun to use.

Progressing through the different missions will unlock more areas of the city to explore. Mission locations are always marked on the map, but there's always plenty to do in between, even if it's just breaking things to collect bricks to build other stuff later.

As for Wii U specific functionality, the Game Pad works as your map, GPS, communication device to receive messages from other police officers, and it can work as a scanner. For the scanner portions of the game, you point the Game Pad at the TV and physically move it around to see a sort of x-ray view of the city that will help you locate criminals, superbricks, and sometimes is also used for audio scanning. However, the Game Pad seems to get a bit too heavy for my puny wrists after a while of gameplay.

Being a LEGO game, of course, there are items to be assembled from LEGO blocks to create useful structures. These are called Super Builds, massive LEGO constructions that help you on your quest, the first one being the ferry to Albatross Island. Super Builds are pretty costly in terms of bricks, so you will want to use the Game Pad to scan your surroundings in order to locate them.

The Chase Begins on 3DS had its major downfall in the loading times. I expected this to be much better this time around, but unfortunately, that's not the case. Loading is still painfully long in LEGO City Undercover. But at least once it loads, it's loaded, and we won't see any weird draw distance issues where people and objects just pop into view. It's great to roam around freely and explore once a particular area has loaded.

Another annoyance was the rate that useless blocks disappear at when you break something. You smack whatever object to bits, then these pieces lay on the ground blocking your path. They should have either disappeared right away, or allow you to wakl through and collect the useful pieces. But no, you must stumble on these broken pieces until they fade out!

A big plus is the voice acting for the characters, which I really liked and felt the 3DS game needed more of. The dialogs are well written and the voice actors perform them very well, and sometimes there are little details going on behind the characters in the cutscenes that will catch your eye and make you smile. My favorite bits were definitely the Shawshank Redemption references in Albatross Prison. Priceless!

LEGO City Undercover reinforces my opinion that you don't need a movie and famous characters to make a good LEGO game. It's fun to play, it's enjoyable and there is tons of stuff to do and collect. A must have for LEGO game enthusiasts and Wii U owners.