Being a Nintendo published exclusive, it’s only natural that LEGO City would find some more imaginative ways to implement the Wii U’s GamePad. While for the most part it’ll be used as an off-screen map, the GamePad will also function as a communicator and a scanner. Chase’s LEGO compatriots will call him regularly throughout the game; their voices produced with pleasing results through the GamePad’s speakers.
The scanner, while useful in its own right, could be a bit unwieldy at times since it requires you to physically move the pad around in order to view the surrounding area for hidden collectables or the occasional baddie. This feature would have been much more accessible if the analog sticks could have been utilized to get that 360 degree view – having to get up and turn around may be uncomfortable or, at worst, not possible for all gamers.
Fans of off-TV play may be a little discouraged to learn that the feature isn’t supported here, which is a shame because even with the enhanced GamePad features there doesn’t seem to be any real issue with implementing the feature – especially since this game is aimed squarely at an audience (family’s with younger children) that would likely benefit most from the convenience of the feature.
The game also suffers from a few other issues that would be best described as inconvenient. Load times can be painfully long at times – particularly when going from the open world to indoor areas and vice versa – and the camera can only be manipulated at a snail’s pace.
Ultimately, It’s Fun
As annoying as these issues may be, they hardly get in the way of what is ultimately a fun and satisfying experience. There are enough collectables to seek out, enough LEGO structures to be destroyed and enough Super Structures to be built to keep the average gamer busy for hours on end – well after the credits have rolled on the single player campaign.
And it cannot be emphasized enough how charming this game is. Like the best cartoons, there are silly sight gags that will get the kids giggling as well as a plethora of referential humor that only the adults in the room will be bound to understand; an early and well played out nod to Shawshank Redemption is a good example of the kind of humor that peppers the game throughout.
LEGO City: Undercover is a tentative step in the right direction for TT. While it’s hard to levy too much criticism at them for sticking mostly with a formula that will likely sit alright with the average gamer, it would have been nice to see them take more risks and produce a final product that felt less like a retread and more like an entirely new experience. Still, with its abundant charm and simple mechanics, LEGO City is an enjoyable time sink that the entire family can pull some enjoyment from.
By Jesse Miller