- Editor's Rating
- Fun and charming for both kids and adults
- Lots to do and see
- It's Grand Theft Auto for kids
- No off-TV play support
- GamePad controls limited and frustrating at times
- Long load times
- Too similar to other "Lego" games
Quick TakeThere are annoying issues that mar the Lego City: Undercover experience, but they hardly get in the way of what is ultimately a fun and satisfying experience.
The folks at TT games have built a veritable empire out of digital Lego bricks over the years. Starting with Star Wars, gamers have been treated to LEGO-fied versions of some of pop culture’s most enduring icons. Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, Batman and The Lord of the Rings trilogy have been given the plastic brick treatment, and soon Spiderman and other Marvel superheroes will grace TVs across the world in LEGO form as well.
It’s a safe formula; mixing pop culture with the popular children’s toy. It’s been successful, and more importantly it’s worked to surprisingly good results. It’s no wonder then that it’s only now that TT games are ditching the tried and true formula in favor of something that they can truly call their own, even if it’s still a bit derivative.
In terms of design, LEGO City picks up right where LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes left off; giving players access to an open world to explore and destroy brick by brick. LEGO City – clearly inspired by real world San Francisco – dwarfs Gotham in pure scale, even from the onset when only a small portion of the overall map is available for exploration.
The player assumes the role of Chase McCain, an amalgam of nearly every wise-cracking, unorthodox, ace cop you’ve ever seen on small or silver screen. His quest is a simple one: track down and catch his recently escaped from prison nemesis, Rex Fury. The plot may be as cliché ridden as it can possibly get, but that’s kind of the point here.
Chase, and the rest of the cast for that matter, are expertly voice acted, which only adds an extra level of panache to the game’s referential humor that hits more often than it misses, even if it ends up soring over the heads of the younger portion of its audience.
Grand Theft Auto for Kids
It is quite clear why many have referred to LEGO City as Grand Theft Auto for kids. The overall structure of the game very much mirrors the esteemed sandbox series. Missions and other points of interest are displayed on the game’s mini-map, and players are encouraged to explore every inch of plasticized real estate, whether on foot or by one of the game’s varied vehicles. It’s fun to just run around break stuff, and some gamers may find themselves getting lost in simple exploration before even undertaking a single, story-driven mission.
Not all is well in the building block city though. LEGO City’s greatest stumbling block is that it isn’t all that comfortable getting too far from the established, tried and true formula that has permeated the franchises from the very beginning. The open world, in itself an established feature from Batman 2 as previously noted, helps to establish a feeling of newness, but missions fall right back into well-trodden territory. Chase will move from area to area, break LEGO objects, reconstruct those LEGO objects into new LEGO objects, and arrest some criminals. There are a few sequences that take place in the open world, that help to freshen the gameplay up a bit, but these aren’t utilized nearly as often as they could or should be.
Past LEGO games contained unlockable characters that would possess unique abilities that would be key to traversing particular levels or puzzles. LEGO City puts a slight spin on this concept by providing Chase with a variety of outfits and disguises, that gift players with unique equipment and/or abilities that can be used to access secrets around the city or in particular missions. These outfits not only provide variety, but are a great benefit to replayability since completionists will not be able to snag every collectible without going back to past missions with new duds in hand.