Lego City : Undercover – Review

Lego City : Undercover first surfaced back on the Nintendo Wii in 2013, widely regarded as one of the better third-party titles on the system, it’s now time to step up to the Xbox One.

Lego City : Undercover follows our protagonist, Chase McCain.

Returning to Lego City to hunt down the escaped convict Rex Fury, Chase is a popular good guy with the dedication to see the job through and in typical Lego fashion such an attitude is loved by many but hated by more than a few.

the slightly loose story follows Chase as he tracks down Fury with the usual Lego humour and gameplay that will feel familiar to anyone that’s played Lego Star Wars, Lego Harry Potter, Lego Marvel or Lego *insert licensed brand name here*.  There’s plenty of characters, collectables and side-quests, and free from the restrictions of a licensed story-line there’s plenty of scope to go outside of the box, even though the story remains very much on track with what you might expect.

Lego City: Undercover is at it’s core a 4 year old game, which serves to show how little the Lego trend has changed over the last half a decade and if you go back another 5-6 years, there’s still only minor changes since the fantastic Lego Star Wars, There’s the same humour, the same puzzle mixed game-play approach and as is true for the last 4-5 years the same open world style.

That’s not to say Lego City is a bad game in any sense,  alongside Lego Marvel Superheroes, 2013 was the first year we saw ‘open-world’ done so well and there’s no doubt it would be sat in a much more flattering light had this been reviewed 4 years ago,  but it doesn’t feel as fresh when we’ve seen it in pretty much every Lego title since.

Because of the familiar feeling across the Lego games, a next-gen remake isn’t something you’ll see very often, but Undercover’s Wii U exclusive roots mean we can finally see the game in the hands of a wider audience, many fans just love the Lego titles and there’s still plenty to love if you missed it first time round, even if some aspects feel somewhat dated.

It’s pretty easy to say straight off the bat that anyone who had the game on Wii U will be better placed looking elsewhere, but outside of Nintendo, is Undercover worth it’s price when there’s so many other games that have come out since, most of a similar style and all using a slightly modified system.

Graphically it’s easily on par with the latest Lego titles, not as ambitious as Lego Worlds, but every bit as sharp and shiny as nearly any other Lego release we could mention, characters are well drawn, well animated and full of the usual Lego detail, the freedom away from a licensed story-line does give a level of freedom, but the game doesn’t feel any less linear and there’s still a couple of issues with pop-in which is a little disappointing considering the power available from the latest systems.

For many people there’s a preference to having a story arc that you’re used to because meeting a wide range of characters isn’t quite as interesting when you don’t have a clue who 90% of them are.  As you’d expect there’s still quite a large selection of characters to work your way through, but while I couldn’t wait to use Iron Man, Kylo Ren or Harry Potter, I don’t find anywhere near the same excitement when stepping into the shoes of unlicensed characters, even the protagonist Chase might have the personality and ego of a superhero, but there’s certainly not the same excitement as swinging across the rooftops or mastering your super human moves..

Lego games have built up quite a reputation for the full voice-acted scripts, and Undercover is no different, but it feels much more 2013 than 2017, dialogue feels a little too scripted, conversations don’t flow as smoothly as we’ve come to expect and some sections feel more B-movie one-liners than blockbuster presentation.

The audio goes a great distance in delivering the story, so as intriguing as the feud between Chase and Rex might be, it’s delivery just isn’t as captivating and as explained a little earlier, there’s just not the want to open every last character with an unlicensed product meaning only the completionists are likely to really get the best value for Undercover.

Lego games have always been more of a draw for younger gamers, and my step-son (5) and Twins (9) where equally as ambitious to play, but each where soon asking to play Lego Worlds or another title, rather than the unrivalled dedication I’ve noticed from them with previous Lego titles.

Lego City : Undercover is a worthy remake purely because of it’s console-exclusive beginnings, and many people like the variety of a more ‘standard’ city, offering an almost GTA style offering in a childrens package, there’s plenty to love about Lego City : Undercover, but just don’t head into it expecting the next evolution of Lego titles.

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