Though it isn’t completely faultless, Lego City Undercover on the Nintendo Wii U is amazing. The lack of online and multi-player gameplay options and a limited adrenaline rush keep it just shy of perfection, but it looks stunning, has super slick gameplay and wraps it all around a highly amusing tongue-in-cheek storyline.
Unlike all of the previous Lego games, City Undercover isn’t based on an existing film or superhero comic book. It has it’s own plot that centres around the return of fallen-from-grace cop, Chase McCain, who is asked to return to Lego City to hunt down criminal deviant, Rex Fury, who has escaped from the woefully insecure Lego City Prison. As Chase locked him up in the first place, Mayor Gleeson believes he’s the right man to get the job done again, much to the general annoyance of doughnut loving, Chase hater, Chief Marion Dunby.
However, things are even less straightforward with the addition of love interest, Natalia Kowalski. Chase landed her in witness protection when she testified against Rex Fury to put him behind bars originally, having revealed her identity inadvertently. Firmly believing that Chase ruined her life, she wants nothing to do with him, but as her scientist father, Dr Henrik Kowalski, gets embroiled in the plot it becomes pretty difficult to avoid the love sick policeman.
As well as a genius story of movie-like proportions, the plot develops with hilarious parodies, jokes, twists and turns. Shawshank Redemption, The Matrix and Grand Theft Auto Vice City all play their part in City Undercover’s own style of storyline, which uses self deprecation as much as sarcasm, slapstick comedy and tongue-in-cheek humour to build up the laughs. It’s easily one of the funniest game releases of the year.
Contrary to what you’d imagine, Lego City Undercover isn’t the blocky looking game it could have been. With an entire city and it’s surroundings all beautifully created in High Def detail, it’s the kind of game that will make you stop playing the actual missions to free roam and take in the sights. Stunning cityscapes, awe inspiring backdrops and jaw dropping scenery are all accessible to run around in, with crisp movement, uninterrupted refresh and great panning.
If you can find it, clambering up the leaning tower of Piza near the ice cream parlour is well worth the effort for the view alone. If you want a rush though, jumping off the top will make you feel like you’ve done it for real. Luckily, Chase just rolls it off. Legend!
There’s also the same graphically cute cut scenes to look forward to as with previous Lego games as well as some cool Matrix style slow motion fight moves. Though the vehicles are about as Lego-like as you can get, they are well animated, especially with the motion blur you get when you crank on the boost button.
Despite the lack of online or multi-player gaming options, the game plays very well as a single player crime adventure. The free roam aspect is class, especially blasting around the massive city in a car you’ve just requisitioned or just looking around admiring the scenery. The fight moves are a lot of fun and the free jumping play is very smart, ranging from clambering up buildings, to tightrope walking and massive ledge jumping from one building to the other.
The puzzle action is pretty impressive too, bringing in the gamepad brilliantly to zoom in on detected villains, use the surveillance hearing device and get comms from your buddies from both the right and wrong side of the law. There’s plenty to work out and discover to complete a mission, which gives a lot of depth to the game. Whether it’s getting the right disguise to get past a section, or moving, breaking and building objects in just the right places, it’ll keep your grey matter on its toes every step of the way.
Driving the vehicles is pretty easy, but there’s a little room for more subtle turning to have been included in the controls, and it would have been nice to be able to use the Wii U game pad as a steering wheel instead of relying on the left analogue stick to take a corner.
The unnerving, adrenaline rush feeling that you might not make it through isn’t as prominent on Lego City Undercover as it could be either. A little more difficulty would have been a welcome addition that would have tipped the game over the edge into absolute classic status.
Music & Sounds
The music and sounds are just as cute as with previous Lego instalments However, there’s a bit more charm in City Undercover as the audio follows the humour of the game. Music becomes a part of the parody and sounds add a lot to the slapstick.
By far the coolest part of the game’s audio has got to be that dialogue is actually spoken, instead of written text on the screen. This is a big step forward for Nintendo, as it’s often passed this over in favour of having to read conversations. The additional power of the Wii U has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for games developers and on Lego City Undercover the graphics and sound processing really do feel like they’re next gen.
Lego City Undercover is a shining beacon of gaming fun for the new Nintendo console. For Wii U owners it’s a must own game and for everyone else it’s another compelling reason to get in on the action. Though it lacks a little on the excitement scales, multi-player options and online gaming, it more than makes up for this with a witty storyline, stunning graphics, sharp gameplay and great audio.
Lego City Undercover review: 4/5