- Format: PS4 (version reviewed), Xbox One, Switch, PC, Wii U (original version)
- Unleashed: Out Now
- Publisher: Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment
- Developer: Traveller’s Tales, TT Fusion
- Players: 1-2 (offline only)
- Site: https://www.lego.com/en-gb/city/games/legocityundercover
- Game code provided by PR
LEGO City Undercover originally appeared on the Wii U in 2013 as an exclusive launch title. Now, four years later, we have a remastered multiformat version. The game tells the tale of an undercover cop called Chase McCain, and his struggle to put his nemesis Rex Fury back behind bars and clean up the criminal goings on in LEGO City. LEGO City Undercover was well received four years ago, but how does it play today?
LEGO City Undercover could be classed as a ‘My First GTA’ game, as it follows the same open world template as the Rockstar juggernaut. Obviously being a LEGO game, the violence, swearing and sexual references have been removed to appeal to the younger demographic, and psychotic characters like Trevor from GTA V have been replaced by characters like the hapless but hilarious Frank Honey, a low-rank police officer who is a big fan of Chase McCain, but is more Inspector Clouseau than Dirty Harry. The story follows Chase as he tries to track down Rex Fury, a criminal mastermind who is causing all sorts of problems in LEGO City. To do this Chase has to go undercover and infiltrate criminal gangs until he finally manages to catch up with Rex, disrupt his super-villainous plans for LEGO City, and put him back behind bars.
LEGO City Undercover features some familiar LEGO gameplay, as you smash your way around the city collecting studs, as well as Super Bricks that you need to build Super Builds. These are used as call-in stations for vehicles, and also additions to the city like bridges, archways, stunt ramps etc. There are also Gold and Red bricks to collect, which unlock cheats like stud multipliers, or silly ringtones for your in-game phone; while there are plenty of characters and vehicles to find and unlock too. On-foot exploration works well, but we weren’t too impressed with the handling of the vehicles, which felt too twitchy for our liking, crashing regularly into the scenery or other vehicles. The best new addition to this remaster is that you can now play the game with a co-op partner, which was sadly lacking from its original release. Being able to roam around LEGO City with your little ‘un and help them out really improves the game, and adds an extra dimension to the gameplay.
Unfortunately co-op has been simply added to the game as it stands, with nothing that requires you to specifically play co-operatively. The characters in the game don’t acknowledge Chase’s new co-op partner either; he’s a mute that Chase has no interaction with, which seems quite odd. You can’t help but hope the game gets a sequel with more levels built for co-op play, with lots of good humoured banter between Chase and his partner, like Murtaugh and Riggs from Lethal Weapon, Holmes and Watson, or Starsky and Hutch. The latter duo are featured in LEGO City Undercover as Studski and Clutch, in a hilarious level where Chase dresses up like Huggy Bear – and there are also some brilliant cameos from other famous detectives like Dirty Harry, Columbo, Sherlock Holmes, and a few others. There are also levels that are inspired parodies of famous films like The Shawshank Redemption, The Matrix, James Bond, Goodfellas and more, which are brilliantly done, and you can’t help but have a big smile on your face as it plays out.
As you play through the levels you unlock eight different disguises for Chase, which give him various powers to access locked-off areas. For instance you get a grapple gun as Chase the cop, a pickaxe and dynamite as a miner, a jetpack and ability to teleport as a spaceman, and an axe and fire extinguisher as a fireman. These add variety to the levels, and help keep your interest. Some of them are pretty funny too; for example, as the farmer you carry around a chicken and point the chickens rear-end at folk before unleashing a hail of eggs. Fighting the bad guys is a simplistic affair, with one attack button and a counter button which you use when a symbol appears above a bad guy’s head. Once you knock them down you have a few seconds to slap on a pair of handcuffs before they get back up. Different animations help mix it up a bit, with Chase sometimes juggling bad guys in the air with his feet, or other times he’ll hover in mid-air Matrix-style before delivering a kung-fu kick.
LEGO City Undercover is a fantastic LEGO game that deserves success with its new audience on the latest generation of consoles and, yes, the frame rate is a heck of a lot better than in the original release (on PS4 as we played it, at least). The city itself is an enjoyable open world that has plenty of secrets, collectables and hidden areas if you are willing to look for them, and the story is an enjoyable romp that has some brilliant parodies of famous films and past TV series. It may be four years old, but Chase McCain and co aren’t ‘too old for this s**t’, as Lethal Weapon’s Murtaugh would say, and we really hope they bring out a sequel with Chase getting a partner in a LEGO-style take on buddy cop movies.