Lego City Undercover: the game that took me away from the Witcher 3…

To elaborate on the title: as a late 20-something, I struggle to find time to play games as much as when I was in school or college… I’ve began to affectionately refer to the golden couple of hours where my tiredness levels endure a little longer than my girlfriend’s as my own “shed time”; if the stars are aligned and I haven’t busied myself with tasks like deciding to take the record player apart at 10pm or making dinner after putting it off all evening in favour of “relaxing”, I’ll sit in front of the TV and be transported back to days gone by through the satisfying beep of the Playstation 4 turning on.

A recent pickup for me from the PS store’s Easter sale was the Witcher 3 which although it was a great price and easier for me to afford than Nioh at present, may not have been the best kind of game to get into an hour at a time here or there! I’ve been an RPG fan of any geographical origin since a 9 year old me played Final Fantasy VII for the first time… however RPGs are hard to get into in short plays and trying to only draws parallels with sadomasochism… particularly when you know full well you haven’t got long until you should really be going to bed.

The other day, on a bit of a random one, Luke asks me if I’d like to review Lego City Undercover​: a Wii U game (previously unknown to me!) released in 2013 by Traveller’s Tales that has just been re-released for current gen consoles. Having played a few Lego games, I was vaguely aware of what the game would be like so I gave it a go. Review aside, I haven’t booted up the Witcher 3 since!

The story​ is interesting in regard that it’s an original Lego property: apart from Pre-Traveller’s Tales Lego Games on PS1 about 15 years ago, the last decade of Lego games I’ve played have all been licensed titles. You play as undercover cop Chase McCain, returning to Lego City after events that happen in a Nintendo 3DS prequel; as soon as you’re back you discover that a notorious villain who you’d previously jailed has gotten out… that’s really as deep as the plot gets but to be fair, I wouldn’t really associate a Lego game with a hard hitting drama!

As I comment on the story’s integrity, I of course have to remember that I’m a 26 year old man who is reviewing essentially a kids game; this is painfully evident in the gag-packed script that hardly lets off, save for a couple lines a time. Having said that, there are a few funny old movie references and the odd adult joke that hopefully goes right over a child’s head! Upon reflection, this is similar to picking up on jokes and adult overtones in Disney films with an adult mind….I must go and rewatch all the Disney films and see what I missed the first time around!

The gameplay ​mostly shares the tried and tested formula of all Tt’s Lego licenses which if you’ve played any, you’ll most likely agree is a lot of fun! It takes it a step further however by making the free-roaming areas between levels, which I last saw sprinkled over small portions in Lego Jurassic World, into one big overworld: compared to the sections of the parks in LJW, this time it’s an entire Lego City! Between main story missions that put you in situations such as car chases, brawls and spots of parkour (which can be done in single player or with a friend via co-op), you are free to travel wherever you see fit in a wide variety of cars and bikes that are either spawned or “commandeered” from civilians (Tt were clearly very clever when borrowing GTA / Sandbox game elements in adapting it to their audience!).

It’s not a case of just driving from mission to mission either; there are lots of collectables and extras packed into the world which you can collect if you like… I don’t particularly care about that stuff in games but it’s there if you do! I wouldn’t say graphics​ matter overly for a game based on toys as they’re not exactly realistic to start with… that said, the graphics and definition are a prime example of the latest console generation’s capabilities. It’s the most visually impressive Lego world I’ve seen to date. Replayability​ wise, I probably will delete this after I’m done with the story mode but again it’s worth noting that I’m not really the core audience for this game. If this was around when I was younger however, I can imagine I would have sunk a lot of time into it after the credits rolled….

To summarise, this is a solid effort by Traveller’s Tales who have only themselves to congratulate for giving the Lego gaming franchise the reputation and brand association it has today. I knew when Luke offered me the review copy that I would be up for a well made game that offers up plenty of light-hearted fun; a trait that I feel a lot of big budget titles that dominate the gaming market have forgotten how to do. I believe it was the aforementioned light-heartedness that has kept me playing it over trying to get into a complex RPG for hours at a time. (I’m sorry Witcher, I’ll get back to you soon I promise!)

Score: 8/10